The Watchman

The Watchman

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lesson in Faith

I saw this quote today, "Faith in God includes faith in His timing."  These simple words really struck home to me.  I consider myself a person of faith, but I often find myself asking why a thing happened or why another thing hasn't happened.  I often find myself saying, "When I get to heaven I am going to ask God why?"  To me faith is not always needing to know the why or how now, but knowing that one day I will be able to have the answers.  Faith is acting in the way my conscience guides me to act without knowing the why.  Faith is knowing that my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love me and want me to be happy.  They see the "Big Picture" and my view is just a megapixel of that design.

What does faith mean to you?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Vote Is In

A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won't cross the street to vote in a national election. - Bill Vaughan

Much is being made in the media about the pending race for the Presidency of the United States.  While being the leader of one of the largest countries in the free world and a super power one at that is a glamorous position, the real workers in this great nation; those that impact the everyday lives of each of us; are our city or town councils.  Yet the candidates for these positions receive very little media coverage in the days leading up to the municipal election.

In my little corner of the world, communities are facing very hard choices.  Revenues from development and sales tax are not keeping up with costs to maintain city infrastructure, services and programs.  Incoming council members will need to make hard decisions on further cuts or increasing taxes. I was saddened to learn that overall average voter turnout for the election on November 8th was less than 20%.  In some municipal elections here voter turnout was approximately 10%.  And it needs to be noted that this it not 10% of eligible voters, this is only 10% of those that registered to vote.  Even local communities that voting is done by mail, only 70% of ballots were returned.

Many of the comments I heard regarding the choice not to vote showed the apathy of most.  Comments such as "I didn't vote because I didn't know the issues or I didn't know the candidates" were most troubling to me because they show a lack of accepting the role each of us have as a citizen of the United States.  It is our responsibility to learn what the issues are and to determine who will best represent our opinion on those issues.

Many brave men and women have fought for our right to have self-determination and not be ruled by the will of another.  I was raised to know that I was blessed to be able to live in the greatest nation on earth, but where much is given much is expected and it was my duty as a citizen to be educated and to serve my community as I was able.  Many of my early years were spent campaigning for my father as he ran for elected office.  Many nights he was away from home as he served on the Planning Commission or Board of Adjustment.  Just as he offered tithes of money to his church, he offered tithes of time to his community.  I have tried to live this principal and to instill it in my children.

I am grateful that I live in a community that did better than the average.  22% of the registered voters in La Verkin made it to the polls this week.  I am sure that issues in the community helped fuel that turnout, but I genuinely believe the citizens here do care.  Unfortunately, 22% falls far short of 100.

Another election is on the horizon.  Voter turnout for that election will be higher because it is the glamorous presidential election, but there will still be county and state races on the ballot along with a few referendums I am sure.  My wish is that as Americans, we will step up and fulfill our role as citizens.  We have a year to become educated in our choices and to prepare to cast our ballot.  Then we need to SHOW UP!!!  And not just next year, but the year after and the year after and then the next.........  There is much written about the write to vote, but it is also a responsibility each of hold.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Civic Responsibility and Fortune Cookies

Today was another milestone day in a child's life - Wil voted for the first time.  Unlike myself in 1984 or his older brother in 2008, whose first ballot was cast by mail, Wil went to the polls with Rick and I this morning.  On the way in I asked him if he knew who he was voting for and he rolled his eyes and said not to worry, he had it covered.  When I took him to register to vote last month, it felt like it was something he was just doing to humor me.  Sunday in church the teacher asked the class if anyone knew what Tuesday was.  Wil said it was kind of cool to be able to say that he was going to be able to vote.

After voting, Wil and I drove to St. George with Rick so he could pick up some plans from the Town's engineers and to pick up our copy of Inheritance from Barnes and Noble.  The boys in my home have been counting the days till this book would be released.  There was much wailing and complaining when the expected trilogy did not end with the third book, but went on to be a series.  Luckily I also ordered a copy for the Kindle, so I will only have to referee between Jon and Wil for possession of the hardbound book.

After all the errands were completed, we went to Panda Express for lunch - one of our favorite dining establishments.  After eating we took turns opening our fortune cookies.  Part of our family tradition is guessing at the meaning of the little pieces of paper.  They seemed particularly appropriate today.

Rick's - You have made a brilliant choice today. (He voted and then spent the morning in with his wife and son.)

Wil's - Your laugh and enthusiasm pleases those around you. (If you didn't know this already about Wil, check out the above picture.  I mean seriously who wouldn't think he was just so adorable.)

Ann's - You are broad-minded and socially active.  (I think that one is pretty self-explanatory.)

So remember to get out and fulfill you civic responsibility.  These are the elections that should matter the most to all of us, since it is our town and city councils that make the laws that impact our daily lives.  The polls close at 8 PM.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dancing the Night Away

After last night, actually after the last week, I am feeling the need to get on my soapbox this morning.  This past evening, we were privileged to attend the La Verkin Elementary 3rd Annual Dance Festival.  This performance wrapped up a week of performances by my children that started with the band/orchestra concert the Thursday prior.

What makes the Dance Festival so spectacular is that every student in the school participates.  Unlike other programs, there is no direct cost to families for this program; no instruments or costumes needed.  Practice is during regular school hours with the teachers choreographing the dances.  Some might say that this takes away from the real purpose of schools - instruction in reading, writing, math and the sciences.  To them I give this quote by Albert Einstein: Logic will get you from A to B.  Imagination will take you everywhere.

I am currently reading Crossed by Ally Condie.  It is the second book in a series depicting a future society where the needs of Citizens are met by the Society, but choice is strictly controlled.  One way the Society maintains control is limiting the arts.  There are the100 paintings, the 100 songs, the 100 poems, etc.  These are all that are allowed to exist.  Anything else is destroyed and those found to be in possession of an item not one of the 100 faces punishment.  The books are excellent and I would highly recommend them.  

The series cannot help but make me realize how empty my life would be without the variety provided by the arts and the variety of expression found there.  I look back at this last week with my children - band concert, orchestra concert, choir performances, dance festival.  All these things add to life and fill my spirit.

As I said previously, every student in the school participates.  I was touched when I saw the 2nd graders dance and saw the aides helping three severely handicapped (not sure if that is the politically correct term) students with their performance.  Those students had the biggest smiles.  Even more poignant was the performance by the 4th graders when a student in wheel chair was guided through the routine by another student.  I thought of my own nephew and how he is often ostracised by others.   What a great lesson in acceptance these students received in a positive and fun atmosphere.  

Performance Art develops the same sense of cooperation and teamwork that you find in athletics.  While often no expense is spared in maintaining a football or basketball team, funding for the arts is usually near the first on the chopping block when money is tight.  This approach to funding for our schools needs to change.  More students can participate in the arts than ever will in sports.  An appreciation for music, the ability to dance or sing or draw will far outlast the time spent on the playing field.

But most important, the arts allow an individual to use and expand a different part of the brain than the part used to memorize and regurgitate facts.  It is this part of the brain that makes a man a genius and allows the progress of mankind.  Steve Jobs did not have all the answers, but his ability to look at things and put them together in a different way is what made him a genius.  Clifford V. Smith, President of the General Electric Foundation stated: GE hires a lot of engineers. We want young people who can do more than add up a string of numbers and write a coherent sentence. They must be able to solve problems, communicate ideas and be sensitive to the world around them. Participation in the arts is one of the best ways to develop these abilities.

So my plea to all is to do your best to support the arts programs in your schools and in your community.  Volunteer to teach or aide a class in drawing or dance, play the piano or lead a school choir, attend the local drama department's production and your community theatre, become an advocate when needed and let those for whom you vote know the Arts are an integral part of education and society.  And most important, remember you are never too old to learn, so take a class and expand your brain.  And in the meantime, you can enjoy some of what I saw last night.  Thank you to all who made it such a great evening.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Monsters Come Out to Play

This last week, everywhere I went, I was surrounded by monsters, aliens and visitors from other lands.  Some of them were scary and others were very sweet.  Some were very talented or athletic and others just wanted treats.

Luckily I had my phone and my camera so I could document these sightings.  I wonder if I could sell them to the National Enquirer or maybe World News.

Thursday, I attended a benefit concert at the local high school.  The auditorium was packed. Not so unusual, but the site that greeted us on stage was.  The performers all seemed a little different.  Here are a couple of the performances, so you can judge for yourself.  (Sorry for the poor quality, but not expecting what I saw, I only had my trusty Droid to capture the occurence.)

These two visitors decided to come home with me.  Luckily they are kind of cute and seem very bright.

On Saturday, I was participating with my daughters in a benefit race for their school.  The thought was that this would be a good test race for me before my big race this Saturday and would hopefully convince my girls that I wouldn't die in Grafton.  I guess the name, The Monster Mile, should have given me a clue that this would not be an ordinary race.  We were greeted by all sorts of strange characters at the check-in station and a few of them even raced with us.

I think for a first time, the girls and I did okay.  Emily even managed to sneek up and scare her dad after finishing the race.

And then there was Monday.  But now I was prepared.  I knew what to expect.  Besides, the calendar let me know that it was Halloween, the day the monsters do come out to play.  So I was not at all surprised to attend a choir concert at the Elementary School and see this:

I guess knowledge that I was documenting of these peculiar sightings spread, because I did receive the following photos.

After so many days of being surrounded by all these strange guests, I was saddened yesterday to find that they had all disappeared.  But as these little visitors said, "It's a small world."  I look forward to seeing them again next year.  Besides, I understand that an overly large elf is getting ready to come visit in just a few weeks.