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Did you do your homework?

For college kids, August marks the return to school and hopefully renewed vigor to embrace learning. But the pursuit of knowledge requires more than listening to lectures, cracking books and writing papers. Real learning involves research, analysis and measurement against truth before you can answer any questions. Bottom line is it requires some effort, a.k.a. homework. We expect our kids to do it, but are we willing to do the same?

In case you’ve been away or tried to escape what’s going on in the US, it’s an election year. Both the Democratic and Republican candidates are lining up determined to get our vote. Rather than go into the negative ads or address PR ploys and half truths, I’d like to ask a question. Would you be willing to do your homework? If so, you can use the acronym RAM.

Research

Would you be willing to do your own research? This might involve foregoing the nightly news with its biased reporting to find genuine, reliable sources for information on both sides. You can start with each party’s website to see the issues they are considering most important, but I’d suggest you make your own list of priorities first to see if either side is in touch with the pulse of the real people. Then look at their records and jot down the facts. What have they done in the past? How did they accomplish what they wanted to do? Were their methods constitutional? What was their rate of success or impact? Do they share a consistent message with all audiences? Once you get into the research, you’ll find you have a lot more topics for discussion on your own. See if you can find answers. Look for opportunities and forums to ask your questions. When you find them, jot down the responses. You might want to organize the information as you get it. (Time always seems to be at a premium.) A chart might be a helpful tool when you get to the next step.

Analyze

You’ve got some of the facts. Now you need to review them to determine how their platform aligns on the issues. Are they consistent across the board? Do they discriminate against any particular group? (Baby boomers might want to pay particular attention here.) Do they have a reputable track record? Have their programs / policies worked? Are you personally and the country as a whole better or worse off since their election? (Obviously this is for incumbents, but it’s important we ask and not be clouded by media and ads. Do your homework here as well.)

Measure

One last step before you make your decision. How do both sides measure against truth? For Christians, the standard would include the Word of God, but all citizens should look to the Constitution. Some choose to redefine it and history while others understand the original intent of its authors. The Constitution has served us well for over 200 years. It is what made us great as a nation.

Before you head to the polls, I would ask, “Did you finish your homework?”

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How about some 236 year birthday fun?

For those in the US, we’re celebrating the 236th birthday of our nation. Here’s a quiz to test your 4th of July knowledge.

1. July 4, 1776 is considered the birthday of our nation and recognizes the signing of this document.

  1. Mayflower Compact
  2. Declaration of Human Rights
  3. Constitution
  4. Declaration of Independence

2. How many men signed this renowned document?

  1. 56
  2. 50
  3. 54
  4. 49

3. The signers of this document were

  1. Poor men
  2. Men of means, wealthy landowners
  3. Wild-eyed pirates
  4. All of the above

4. The courageous signers of the document knew the win / loss results could be

  1. Peace / prison
  2. Safety / deportation
  3. Struggling hardships / death
  4. All of the above

5. Less than half of the signers lived through the Revolutionary War to forge our country’s future and the rest were

  1. Tortured to death
  2. Had their homes sacked, looted occupied by the enemy or burned
  3. Lost their own lives or their family members in the war
  4. All of the above

6. This signer new King George’s eyesight was poor and courageously made his signature with large bold letters so the king would not miss it.

  1. Benjamin Franklin
  2. John Hancock
  3. Thomas Jefferson
  4. Benjamin Rush

The signers of this document relied firmly on God’s protection and leadership as evidenced by signing their names to these words:

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Our Founding Fathers were men of character, confidence and conviction, yet they looked beyond the comfort of their own lives. They willingly sacrificed all of it for us. Not relying on their own resources or plans, they felt God’s leading and surrendered to it. Though it cost them dearly, they understood the import of their mission and allowed God to lead them to victory. The price of our freedom came at a very high price. We must not forget.

I wonder if we today would be as courageous and bold?

Thanks to all who maintain our freedom and Happy Birthday USA!

Answers: 1 – 4; 2 – 1; 3 – 2; 4 – 3; 5 – 4; 6 – 2 

Peter’s no hero

Who does he think he is, anyway? I’ve absolutely had it with Peter. Sorry to vent, but I just have to tell someone before I scream. I actually caught him in the act, and it made me furious. By the way, Peter is a wild rabbit.

Those who know me well understand my love for gardening and in particular growing my own vegetables. Not only do they taste so much better than grocery store fare, but the garden sure helps the budget. If I can put away some of my fresh produce, I can enjoy the savings throughout the year.

Unfortunately, Peter does not agree, and he has made it his mission to demolish half of my plants. It matters not that my garden incorporates approximately 256 square feet and that directly behind it is over 320,000 square feet of wild land filled with grasses, raspberries and other wild delicacies, all of which, according to the Internet, are actually more beneficial to his health than the plants he’s eating from my patch. They are certainly plentiful and easier to access to satisfy his voracious appetite as well. He does not even have to chew threw a heavy plastic fence to get to them. But no, his only concern is trying to take what he thinks is best at the moment. He has neither logical rationale nor consideration and respect for my efforts, needs and desires. It’s all about his agenda. Maybe he works for the government.

Though this true account is totally frustrating, I suppose the timing of it is appropriate as it makes me begin to think of the 4th of July celebration and our country’s founding fathers. We remember their character, strength and life-giving sacrifices to provide freedom for us. They planted seeds of patriotism and independence providing us a harvest of rights that have proven themselves for over 230 years. Perhaps on this Independence Day, our Declaration of Independence should be renewed in the hearts and minds of every citizen. John Quincy Adams says it well. “Posterity – you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.” We must remember because if we become lax in our vigilance, others will come in to tear down what we have sown, even undermining the protections we’ve put into place.

As we prepare our barbecues and fireworks, let’s reflect on the yesterdays that made our country great before it is too late. Former President Woodrow Wilson provided this warning. “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.”

We need to look back and remember in order to foil the victory of those who would like to sabotage our garden of independence.