Greeting, Gentle Readers,

Thanksgiving Day is often referred to as "turkey day", now. I had never heard it called that until somewhere in the 1980s. Now I hear it all the time.

When my husband heard it called that, he told me how much it hurt him. He was one of those who spent World War II in Europe. He was only a small child when the war started, but he lived in Amsterdam, Holland, and the Germans roared into that city on May 5, 1940. He says he was awakened in the wee hours of that day by the roar of German tanks, as they took over Holland.

That war was a horrifying experience for a young child. He was completely dependent on his mother, since the Dutch men began to be taken captive right away. Any man who fought back was shot, immediately. If anyone took part in any resistance, all the men left in that block of houses were brought downstairs at gun point, lined up against the wall of the building, and machine-gunned down. That tactic worked most successfully to keep the populace docile.
By the time the war was over, those who had not starved to death were, nonetheless, so badly starved it took the Red Cross about six weeks to get individuals to be able eat food, without dying from the simple act of eating.

During the war, especially toward the end, the starvation was so ubiquitous that every morning a flat-bed, horse-drawn wagon came through the streets of Amsterdam, and the people would carry their dead down the stairs of the apartment buildings to be carried away for burial.
When my husband was 21 he came to America. He was so overwhelmed by the degree of freedom we, and now he, enjoyed in this country that Thanksgiving Day was a truly sacred day to him.

The first time he heard it referred to as "turkey day", he was horrified. He couldn’t believe so many of our people had come to recognize and revere their freedom so little, that they would call this day, which was so important to him, anything but Thanksgiving Day.

When he died, I suspect one of his first acts was to visit the founding fathers of this nation and express his deeply-held gratitude for the gift of freedom he had found in this country. He probably spent time with my several ancestors who fought to make this country what it came to be, letting them know how he valued their struggles and sacrifices.

Now, if only those of us left here could come to recognize what an aberration our freedom is in this nasty old world. Perhaps, the only ones of us who can truly do so are those who have served in our armed forces, and especially those who have seen combat.

There is one thing I would love to see, and that is for our people to express their gratitude for their freedom to those who have fought for that freedom. Those who have done so have seen how life really is in the nastier places on this tired old planet. They have seen the viciousness to which a great deal of the inhabitants of this globe are subjected every day of their lives.

Please. This Thanksgiving Day, if you see anyone who has served, thank them. They deserve that and more, but anyone of us can do that much. Next, please thank the God we worship for this gift. That is what the term "thanksgiving" really meant. It was not meant as thanksgiving to anyone else, even the Indians who helped the pilgrims. Only our God can preserve our freedom. No other force on this earth can do so, so lets remember just what this day is really all about.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

Perhaps all Americans saw and heard the woman who ecstatically exulted that she would no longer have to worry about putting gas in her car or paying her mortgage. Why? Because Obama had been elected President of this country. She said if they took care of him–meaning if they elected him–he would take care of them.

Is it our President’s job to put gas in the cars and pay the mortgages of his constituents? I don’t remember being taught that in school. In fact, it says nothing about that in my copy of our Constitution. It talks about his providing for the common defense and general welfare of the citizenry, but I can’t find anything about gas in cars and paying mortgages.

So, how did this weird reading of the President’s job come to pass? It may have been a result of his telling people who don’t pay any taxes that they were going to get a tax cut, which, subsequently, has been correctly defined as a welfare check. Then, again, it may have been something they were explicitly told by those trying to get him elected.

It is impossible for someone, who was not where that lady was at the time she learned that he would give them money–provided they elected him–to really know how this reading of his intentions was communicated. Were they actually told he would give them money, if they elected him? We will never know, because no one is going to spill the beans.

Is it correct and proper for Americans to elect a President, in order to get money on which to live from day to day? No. It is not. It is the President’s job to keep the country safe and keep all government departments functioning as well as possible, but to allow people to think they will get money if they elect him is tantamount to bribery, and bribery is very illegal.

It is past time for Americans to return to the level of honor most of us were taught as children. Honor and/or dishonor is a step higher than legal and/or illegal. Legal refers to how people behave when others are watching. Honor refers to how people behave when no one is watching but God and their own conscience. It means giving back the extra change accidentally given you by a young, inexperienced clerk, even though no one but you knew a mistake had been made.

Many years ago my children and I were left alone and destitute. I applied for welfare and got it. Soon, I was able to get a job that supported us, but I did not cancel the welfare we were receiving. Instead, I just put the checks in my purse and left them there, that way we continued to have health care. At the end of that year, I was called into the welfare office and told I would have to pay back a goodly portion of the money we had received, since I was now making enough to support us. I pulled those checks out of my purse and gave them to the lady, telling her I had not cashed them because we did not need them. She looked at them in astonishment. Then she realized some of them were more than six months old, and she absentmindedly said they were not good anymore. Then she told me not to worry about it; she would take care of it, and she did. I never heard another word about having to pay back money.

She had not been used to people living by a standard of honor that said the American people should not have to support those who could support themselves. She knew we were still dirt-poor, but were getting by. That was close enough for us; we were perfectly happy to scrape by, just barely, and she had no intention of allowing a technicality to harm us.

It is still true that Americans should get by without government handouts, if it is possible for them to keep food on the table, and I am not referring to take-out food bought at a fast-food place.

No, our Presidents are not our financial keepers. It is not their job. It is up to us to work hard enough to support ourselves. Nor is it proper for union members making staggeringly high hourly wages to refuse to live on the level of wages the common everyday American receives, if their company goes broke. Incidentally, many companies go broke precisely because their unionized workers demand salaries and benefits that the company cannot truly afford to pay.
No. The new President is not going to take money from working Americans to put gas in that woman’s car, nor to pay her mortgage, nor should she think such a thing is proper, because it isn’t.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

As a man discussed the problem of teens being more inclined to take advice from their friends than from their parents, he said they must be taught to be "source critical."

As I thought of this, I realized that a member of our family had done precisely that. He had trusted his friends advice more than that of his parents, and the cost was incalculable. His friends had told him his parents didn’t know what they were talking about, when they warned him of the dangers of using drugs. But his parents had been right, and acting on his friends advice cost him decades of extreme drug addiction, a stretch of time in a penitentiary, his family and his health.

To use the words of the speaker, he had definitely not been source critical, when he had chosen to accept advice from his friends, rather than his parents.

The speaker also addressed the ripple effect of accepting advice, whether bad or good. As I think of our children who followed our advice, they have made happy, fulfilling lives for themselves. They have become a positive force in this world, and a tremendous blessing to themselves and the families they have created. The ripple effect has been a reward to all involved.

As I look at famous people, some in Hollywood, some in real life, I realize the ripple effect caused by their behavior goes on and on. If they behave in a destructive manner, the damage continues down through the generations. Their children are more self-destructive than they are, and it gets worse with each generation.

If they are solid citizens, living in a responsible manner, their families tend to be the same. Not all of them, but many.

One cannot help thinking their children developed positively by being "source critical" as they sought advice. As they grew and developed, they made sure their freedom to choose the behavior that suited them did not lead them into self-destructive paths, by being careful when choosing their advisors.

For many young people in this modern day, the power of self-determination is a burden their lack of mature wisdom cannot handle. They lunge from one self-destructive behavior to another, and the ripple effect almost guarantees the next generation will do the same.

We parents and grandparents hurt when our offspring hurt themselves and others, but the only power we truly have is the power of persuasion. If it were not for that and the power of our love, we would have no way to stand between our loved ones and potential self-destruction. Fortunately for us, with most of our offspring, we are the source to which they turn for wisdom, especially if we have been successful in teaching them to be source critical when seeking that wisdom.

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

When activists want to change laws, but haven’t a chance, they turn to activist judges, who do their dirty work for them. That is what has happened in three states, Massachusetts, California, and now, Connecticut. In each of these states, courts have struck down laws confining marriage to a man and a woman, and have made marriage legal between two women or two men.

The citizens of California have overturned that court ruling and have, if we understand correctly, returned to the original law, permanently. They put it in their constitution, which should keep the courts from having the power to override.

Too bad I don’t have much faith in their success. Somehow, I think the activists will find a way to get around the will of the people.

So, what is our job? Let’s not wimp out! The citizens of California have shown us the way. They have paid the price, and they won. We must do the same from one day to the next, in one circumstance or the next. While it won’t always be easy, that is our task. When we are convinced something is right, we must be willing to fight for it. If we are short on money, as many of us are, we can write letters to the editor, we can get online and talk to all who will listen.

Most of us have friends, who have friends, who have friends, etc. Personal contact is the most successful way of fighting a cause.

We have entered into a particularly tricky time in our country’s existence. We have some politicians who do dumb things and cause terrible problems. Then we have others who deliberately work to overthrow the will of the citizens, as happened in California.

We live in the one country on this earth that allows its citizens to overrule their government, by passing laws to protect their own interests. So, what is our weak point? Those citizens who should be working to pass laws to protect our interests. Huh?

It’s this way: Too many of our people allow themselves to be manipulated by organizations and individuals who definitely do not have their best interests at heart. It is easy for such types to misrepresent their goals. All they really have to do is convince us they are our good buddies and want only the best for us. They tell a good story, but if we are alert and watchful, we can see through them and circumvent their devious machinations by working with other like-minded people, especially those who are real experts at seeing through these types and their tricky games.

Let’s gird up our loins and diligently watch our elected officials and others who just might not care about our wishes, especially if our wishes are contrary to their wishes. Somebody has to be the grownup in this old world of ours, and I vote that we take on the job!

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.

Greetings, Gentle Reader,

When Brigham Young used this saying, he was simply repeating it. He had most likely heard it from birth. It was a common attitude in the earlier years of our country’s existence.

The difference between America and the countries of the old world was that, in America, if a person worked, he could earn enough to eat. That was not the case in the countries our ancestors left, when they came to this land. Only in America could you truly benefit from your own labor.
While this was not universally true, particularly where slaves were concerned in the early years, it was a more correct principle in America than in any other country. When most men married, they made sure they had a way to feed, clothe and house a wife and the children they assumed, indeed hoped, would be born to them. And they knew that "them as works eats."

My ancestors, most of whom were weavers, farmers or ranchers, depending on the family background, usually grew their own food, which is called engaging in "labor of first intent," meaning they grew or raised what they ate, rather than simply working for money with which to buy their food from someone else. When you work for money with which you then purchase your necessities, that is called "labor of second intent."

Somehow, that business of growing your own food by your own hard labor and by the sweat of your own brow makes you understand the outrage experienced by all farmers and hard laborers in whatever field, who are told they must give the fruit of their labors to others, who do not work as hard or as long as they do. I get up and go to the barn at about 6:00 in the morning, to start my morning chores. When the weather is great and the sun is peeking over the eastern mountains, I go to the barn at 6:00 AM. When the weather is horrendous and that chicken-hearted sun is still shivering under the covers, I go to the barn at 6:00 AM. Why? Because my sense of integrity tells me that "them as works eats." More to the point, "them as works have every right to eat."

I have a heated milking room and my chickens have a warm, lighted sleeping room, but my ancestors, including my own father, went to the unheated milking shed at about 5:00 AM, no matter how awful the weather. Why? His wife and little ones needed milk, whether for butter, cheese, or just for drinking. Then he went to work at his job to earn money for the rest of our needs. When he got home in the evening, the cow was waiting, and not at all patiently.
He raised a calf from that cow, regularly. Then he raised sheep and pigs. Why? Because he knew that we needed meat.

Never once did I hear him say that the government owed him a living. In fact, he regularly expressed his disdain for those who did think the government owed them a living.
When the older members of the family could no longer raise most of their own food, their offspring provided for them. That is the way America used to operate, and in the Amish communities, that still is how it is done.

Too bad the biggest portion of our people don’t think that way, anymore. Many of our people are waiting, in this election cycle, to decide for whom they should vote, according to the number of goodies the candidates promise. The guy who promises the most will get their vote.
There is a serious lack of a sense of fair play in that attitude. Why? Because they are not waiting to see which candidate will work hard to make available the largest number of jobs, by his monetary and regulatory policies. Many of them aren’t looking for jobs; they are looking for freebies, because they have been trained to think that is perfectly acceptable. And those freebies have to come by someone else working to provide them, someone who actually has a right to keep the money used to provide those freebies, for his own family, rather than for strangers, many of whom could provide many of their needs for themselves, if they chose.

All Americans should have a code of honor that says no one should forcibly take the fruits of one man’s hard labor and give it to another. Those who work hard to provide for their own and their family’s needs learn the meaning of, and the satisfying feeling that goes with, developing personal honor. It just feels good.

Best of all, we simply would be a much more fair people, a people of greater personal integrity, if we remembered that "Them as works eats."

Until next time,
Muriel Sluyter

Return to the Neighborhood.