Friday, July 3, 2015

Independence Day

As the 4th of July rolls around again, I am excited but also filled with sadness this year. It has always been my favorite holiday. I love the music, the patriotism, and especially the fireworks.  It is also a time to reflect on our nation's founding and history. This is what causes me sorrow, to see how far our country has digressed since 1776. 

Over the years, Americans have been known to have a backbone, to be independent, and to stand up to tyranny. At times, we are referred to as the world's police force. I do not support the level of involvement we have in foreign affairs. However, the underlying philosophy of why we become involved in foreign affairs indicative of our culture, that we hate to see humans suffering or repressed. We are a country of liberty and freedom.  We do not want dictators that have the potential for world dominance. When we have been attacked ourself, our resolve for freedom and justice has been awaken. 

Our Founding Fathers desired to not live under an oppressive power that restricted God given rights and freedoms. They designed a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. The Constitution begins with the words, "We the People." It is not a government of elected officials, appointments, individuals, or special interests group.  America has been a melting pot, opening our doors to all with welcoming arms. 

With recent events, I feel for the first time, it is no longer as popular to be patriotic or celebrate what our country stands for. This saddens me. Despite all our problems, I have always had the belief that we are still the greatest nation in the world. But now I wonder. It seems as if anyone who is bothered or offended by something can remove that offensive item or policy if they just speak up. We have become a hypersensitive culture. This is wrong. It is impossible to appease and please every single person. Someone will always react to something. 

Our past leaders and Founding Fathers were men and women of integrity, honor, and they had a back bone. They stood up for what they believed was right and did not cave to others, no matter what the cost. They are the reason why we are the nation we are today. Those who do not know or understand history are likely to repeat it. 

So this Fourth of July, I will still proudly show my patriotism because I still believe somewhere, there is something left of the principles and freedoms our country was founded upon. I cannot and will not believe that the courage our Founding Fathers displayed is completely gone. I pray and hope for better days to come. With all its flaws, I still love my country. I am a proud American. Let us never forget the sacrifices of those who have gone before us. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Is Life Unfair?

We so often say that something is unfair or hear others commenting about how unfair something is. It seems we often conclude that life is unfair. But is it really? From our human perspective, yes, it is. One might miss out on a job promotion, or not get the desired grades in school. Or maybe someone is misunderstood, their reputation is possible affected, and no matter how much they may want change that, nothing can be done about it. Then what? Sit and have a pity party, complaining about how unfair life is?  Eat some ice cream? Watch a movie? Sounds about right, or does it?

How about being falsely accused for a crime that was never committed and being sentenced to death for it? Unfair? Most definitely! And yet, that is exactly what happened to Christ. He was falsely accused of blaspheme, a crime punishable by death. When we think life is unfair to us, well, there is no comparison to Christ’s death. If there ever was an unfair situation, it was Christ’s death. That was truly unfair. Yet, it was all in God’s infinite plan because through Christ’s death, we can have life.

So what about our “unfair” life? Well, I’m not suggesting life is all rose colored and happy. It is not. But there is a difference between hardship and unfairness. That difference is how we view things. God brings hard times and trials in our life. Without them, we would never grow. Precious metals are refined by turning up the heat, melting them, and then skimming the impurities off the top. If the heat was never turned up, the impurities would always remain. We should accept hard times and trials as refining times in our life when God, the Master Craftsman, is purifying us. Human nature would look at these times as unfair. But through the lens of God, it is His perfect plan. The issue is not the actual circumstance, but how we view the circumstance. Losing a job, failing a course, or being misunderstood are all part of God’s plan. God brings these things into our life to purify us.

So when life is “unfair” or “throws me a curveball” what should I do? Is life easier because the event is a “trial” versus simple being “unfair?” No. Often I complain and grumble when instead I need to relax, trust God. and have faith. He knows what He is doing. He can see what I cannot. His plan is perfect and He is in control of everything. It is not easy though to let go. In the flesh, I want to be in control, I want to fix things, I want to blame someone or something for the problems. It is a constant struggle at times to sit back and not worry. But oh the peace and contentment that comes when I am able to give all that seems unfair over to God and rest in Him, knowing He is in control. I may never understand the reason for some of the specific trials or hardships God has brought into my life. I like to guess and try and figure it out, but that is because I don’t like the uncertainty of not understanding what is going on around me. All I need to know is that God is in control and His ways are better than my ways.

Is life unfair? From a human perspective, yes. But from God’s perspective, no. What seems unfair to me, is God’s way of refining me.

“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10

Friday, June 5, 2015

Campus Carry: Will It Improve Grades or Not?

Skimming the news today, a headline caught my eye "Gunpoint Average: Texas prof claims campus carry law will improve grades." Of course as a proud supporter of the Second Amendment, my curiosity immediately spiked. From a quick glance, I saw campus carry plus improved grades. I was thinking, well sure, that could makes sense — campus carry makes for a safer environment, which leads to less worry about safety, which leads to less stressed students, which leads to better grades. Right? WRONG! At least according to this Texas professor.

The professor ultimately is claiming better grades through fear and intimidation. This is the argument: because professors know that students may be carrying a gun, the professor will give an A for fear of their safety. How illogical is that. The premise is that a student with a gun may go to a professor and use it in an intimidating manner if he or she does not receive the grade he or she thought was deserved. Thus, to avoid this happening, a professor will give higher grades (i.e. A) just to protect themselves from students who lawfully carry guns.

This is a bizarre, illogical argument. First off, numerous campuses across the United States already allow campus carry, such as Liberty University in Virginia. And I know for a fact at Liberty, no professor gives a high grade because they are afraid a student lawfully carrying a weapon will walk into their office and intimidate them into giving a higher grade. Campus carry creates a safer environment for all the students who attend, not just those who carry. Bad guys are not stupid, generally speaking. Part of the beauty of concealed carry is that it is not known who is armed versus unarmed just by looking at a person. Most individuals committing a crime do not want to be caught, let alone shot. So for instance, a would be assailant, why would they enter a campus to commit a crime knowing there was a chance that the person they attack could be armed and would defend themselves? They probably are not going to do that. Just the fact that there are individuals lawfully carrying a weapon will make others around them feel safer. Even campus police often are supportive of students lawfully carrying a concealed weapon.

Second, most crimes involving guns are not committed by those individuals who carry lawfully, but rather those who carry illegally obtained weapons. When news stories break about crimes involving guns, rarely is the criminal using a gun that he lawfully carries concealed. Most likely any campus that allows for concealed carry, like Liberty, will have some time of application process and background check before giving out a campus carry permit. It is not that much different than what it takes to obtain a state concealed carry permit. If a person were to attempt to intimidate their professor through the use of a firearm, that person would most likely do it regardless of whether or not the campus allowed concealed carry.

Finally, if a student is so immature and stupid as to think they can get a better grade by brandishing a weapon at a professor, maybe they are not deserving of the opportunity to obtain higher education. College is a privilege, not a right. Granted there are many immature college students. However, many of those students do not graduate or succeed after graduation. And yes, I said stupid. Grades are based on the student's performance not intimidation. I do not know how many times I have heard grades are not given but earned. If a student wants an A, they can achieve it through hard work and determination. This is not that difficult in undergrad.

If, campus carry were to affect grades, it would be along the lines of what first popped into my mind upon reading the headline. Students who are highly stressed typically do not perform as well in their studies. Granted, college itself is stressful at times, but the more compounded stress in a person's life, the more their performance will decline. If a person does not feel safe, it can be stressful. Now a person may not automatically feel unsafe, but they are quite aware when they do feel safe, particularly females. Stress also often affects females more than males. So a student, and especially a female, who feels safe has one less stress upon them and will relax more. As already discussed, campus carry makes for a safer environment. So the student who feels safer will relax and by relaxing can focus better on their studying which typically equates to better grades.

I am grateful to attend a university that allows for concealed campus carry and I wish all universities and schools had the same policy. If campus carry leads to higher grades, it will not be because some idiot student tried to intimidate a professor.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Picture of Freedom - My America

Triumph. Freedom. Victory. Resolve. Liberty. Independence. 
Undefeated. Future. Greatest Nation. America.

The old saying that "a picture is worth a thousand words" rings true. 

I am back after a long hiatus (more on that another time). This weekend I was in New York City for one of my close friend's wedding. New York embodies the American Spirit in so many ways. Passing by Ellis Island is a reminder of all the immigrants, including my great grandmother, who came to our shores seeking the American Dream. In the middle of the New York Harbor stands the Statue of Liberty, tall and proud, as she welcomes to her shores all seeking a new beginning. New York is not just about tall buildings, great food and shopping. Those things are because of the people who built New York. Each group of immigrants (Jews, Irish, Italian, Germans, etc) brought their traditions and expertise with them. Many, if not most, came with nothing, except a will and determination to work hard and make a new beginning. And a new beginning they made.

The new Freedom Tower is the ultimate embodiment of the American Spirit. Its official address is One World Trade Center. Yes, One World Trade Center. It has risen up from the ashes of the Twin Towers. The 9/11 Memorial lies in the shadows of the Freedom Tower as a reminder of those who lost their lives and why we must fight for our freedom. The Freedom Tower is a picture of American resolve and triumph. One World Trade Center stands in direct defiance to those terrorists who sought to crush the American Spirit.

We Will Never Forget. 

God Bless America.