Wednesday, September 28, 2011


one of my favorite books is Why Nations Go to War by John Stoessinger. if you like history, war, or are interested in the effect individuals can have on society, then you should look it up (also if you live in provo and want to read it, i can borrow it to you). as i read the book, the thing that struck me the most is how each major conflict began, escalated, and concluded with the decisions of either one person, or a very few people. i think it is so interesting to contrast the few decision makers with the thousands or millions of lives that are affected by their decisions. it is so easy to analyze the lives of these great (and in some cases terrible) leaders and see what they should have done.

and imagine-- if not for the mistakes of history, life could be how it "shouldabeen" instead of how it is. who wouldn't go back and prevent WWI--that senseless, horribly bloody war, started by the decisions of a few monarchs and emperors . . . who wouldn't prevent the holocaust? who wouldn't change the continual escalation of the war in Vietnam, if only we could know the outcome at the outset?

(On a side note, Stoessinger's analysis of war seems to draw heavily from the Great Man theory, which basically states that history can be explained by analyzing influential individuals and the decisions they make)

on sept 12th, the Onion published a fascinating article regarding the events that have taken place since sept 11th 2001. knowing the Onion's general insensitivity and horrible political incorrectness, i saw the article title and did not read it. later, with my brother's recommendation, i looked it up. The article is a great commentary on what "shouldabeen." without placing blame on any individual or group, the article covers a broad scope of events and situations that have happened, and using 20/20 hindsight vision, talks about what we all wish would have happened.

in 2001, full of patriotism, all of America stood shoulder-to-shoulder in firm resolve against terrorism. we supported war in Iraq, the search for Osama in Afghanistan, and had no problems with the new security measures at the airports. as time went on, we have been decreasingly patriotic and increasingly dissatisfied with the wars, the long search (finally culminated with Osama's death on may 1, 2011), and the difficulties of establishing democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

what i like about the onion article is that it describes what we would have predicted when we went to war ten years ago: a swift capture of Osama bin Laden; the establishment of a stable government in Afghanistan; the completion of the Freedom Tower in NYC; and the maturity of the American people, as evidenced by an increase in mutual respect and understanding between the Muslim and Christian communities.

now it is easy (with hindsight as our guide) to say what could have been done differently to achieve those results. unfortunately, we don't have any idea what would have worked. we only have these ideas of what "shouldabeen." as usual, our society looks for a scapegoat. we throw blame around in some frantic attempt to absolve ourselves of responsibility. but blame doesn't make me feel any better about our failures, and it certainly doesn't change the past!

bringing this a little closer to each of us, i suggest that we consider our own goals and dreams. as an individual, a youth during much of the last ten years, i had little understanding of the implications of an event like september 11th. most of us had little influence on the international events of the last ten years. but while we may be unable to alter world history, we should all make an effort in our own lives to avoid personal "shoudabeens."

we have control of our own lives. sometimes we feel like the external forces around us keep us from being in control, and i admit that some things are beyond us. however, in most situations we are in control of our lives. we can choose what we do, and when we do it. we don't get to decide where we start out in life, but with hard work and consistent effort, we can control where we are at and set the course for where we want to go. since we can control our lives, we ought to be able to prevent "shouldabeens." we can set goals and work towards them. we can conquer our fears, establish peace in our lives, complete the goals that we set, and learn to respect and understand others. with these guidelines, we will look back ten years from now without "shouldabeens" on our lips. we will be able to say, like george w. in our fictional onion world, "These last 10 years could have been divisive, turbulent, sad, hopeless, and grotesque. But instead, they were the exact opposite of those things. And for that we must all feel both blessed and truly proud."

The architects of the past 10 years of peace and prosperity drink to their success
from the observation deck of New York's Freedom Tower. (Source:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


ever heard of perspective? it is that little thing that makes you see things differently than others. some decisions that seem easy to us can be incredibly difficult for someone else. we may see the world as something ugly, while another finds it beautiful. we may respond to situations in a completely different way than another person would. (see Alma 62:41)

i guess perspective is what gives people hope. although our circumstances may not always be under our control, each of us has control of the way we respond to difficulties around us. We can allow our difficulties to make us cranky, or we can respond with patience and humility.

the optimist and the pessimist are both self-made. the difference between the grouchy old man and the friendly grandpa is simply attitude.

at this point, i would like to insert a side note about how much i love africa. not the country, but the person. she makes my head go round and round. she is the peanut butter to my jelly and the flip to my flops. she had my heart at 'hello.' i knew it from the moment that we met. she's everything; she's a falling star, the get-away car, and the line in the sand when i go too far. so africa, tell me that we belong together. dress it up with the trappings of love. i'll be captivated. i'll hang from your lips. instead of the gallows of heartache that hang from above.

back to perspective.

the other day i was climbing the stairs at the Provo temple, trying to get up to the chapel in time for the session. i was kind of in a hurry, as i was running a bit late. an old man was struggling to get up the stairs and blocked most of the staircase. i was pretty impatient, and slipped past him quickly. he said 'hello' and gave me a smile as i ran by, and i muttered a lame 'hi' back at him. when we got to an endowment room, the old man was the last one inside (right behind me). he shuffled in, and i noticed that he was in pain--moving slowly and limping. before he sat, he gave me a big smile and extended his hand. we shook hands, and he thanked me for being at the temple. my opinion of him skyrocketed; his sense of perspective really uplifted me. that man could have been anywhere, sitting around and wasting away the last years of his life. he could have hated his body for the pain it caused him. he could have been cold and dour in his interactions with others. instead, he was at the temple, serving his fellow men and serving the Lord. He lifted my spirits with a smile, kind words, and a firm handshake. what a good man! in his pain and old age he did not shy away from living an active, happy lifestyle. he didn't even take the elevator.

i love the temple. it has such a powerful influence on my mood. as i go there every week my worries and difficulties melt away, and i find myself entirely at peace. just going to the temple grounds or looking at pictures of the temple helps me to feel the Spirit and want to be a little bit better.
To check out some of the temples, click here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

gender equality

hello internet.

today i am going to talk about a controversial subject: gender equality. it can be a difficult topic to approach, so i am going to start with a great joke:

question: if a tree falls on a woman in the forest, does it make a sound?
response: what is she doing out of the kitchen?

i suppose the first person could tell the joke differently, and say: 'if a tree falls on a woman while she labors in her kitchen-in-the-forest, does it make a sound?' but that sounds far too wordy.

okay, enough silliness. maybe. the fact is, there is a lot of demand for women's rights out there nowadays. most of the demand, i would assume, comes from women. there are too few men advocating for women's rights, and that is totally uncool. i strongly believe that women are in most cases equal to men, and in nearly every other case superior to them. historically, (and currently) men haven't looked at women this way. throughout the years men have prescribed certain actions and behaviors for women, effectively putting up walls around them that limit them from reaching their full potential. women's rights has been a bigger issue on the political field during recent years, and most people would admit that there has been a lot of progress.

none of this is what i want to talk about.

though there has been progress made in the realm of gender equality, i would argue that not all of this 'progress' has been positive. though our society has been breaking down barriers and overcoming obstacles that have limited women for centuries, i believe that if we are not careful, this idea of gender equality could go too far. i am afraid that we may get so concerned with gender equality that we may forget some of the things that make women so much better than men.

in expressing this, i don't intend to demean any woman that has aspirations for excellence in the professional world. i just want to express my feelings that women do not need to be men to be happy. in breaking out from these barriers of limitations, women should not forget who they are or what they have historically done. just because women have historically been confined to childbearing and childrearing does not mean that a woman must now become a lawyer or a doctor to be successful. gender equality means that men and women are equal to choose a profession. in this discussion it should be realized that each gender has areas in which they excel above the abilities of the opposite gender. gender equality also means that men and women deserve (and should expect) mostly equal treatment (note that i say 'mostly'). let me touch upon both of these aspects of gender equality:

1) men and women should be able to choose a profession of their choice.

women and men should take careful consideration of the numerous circumstances surrounding their individual situation as they make career decisions. these changing circumstances may make it impossible to dictate or even suggest what would be right or wrong for a specific individual. here are some thoughts to consider in the meantime.

men and women are different. there are the obvious biological differences and the more subtle emotional and logical differences. these differences are important and beneficial. there may be exceptions, but the crying child doesn't go to mommy for no reason. the child goes to mom because mom is a great comforter. she loves and forgives and is patient with her child. this may have something to do with the fact that mom gave birth to the child, but that isn't the entire story. when science gets 'good' enough (advanced enough?) to allow men to carry a baby in pregnancy, it will not change the inherent differences in behavior and emotion between man and woman. this has great implications for career choices. society is made up of families who are made up of parents with children. the children of today form the society of tomorrow. very simple concepts. someone needs to teach the children, and the majority of the teaching should NOT be done at school, but in the home. so in making career and educational choices, a woman should consider her options carefully. a professional business path may be more appealing (and lucrative) than the option of being a mother. are they mutually exclusive? maybe, maybe not. are men and women equally capable of both? i would say no. both can be successful in business. both can have a measure of success with children, but whether you believe in God or no, the biological fact of womanhood (or maybe more specifically motherhood) involves the care and nurture of children. this should influence a woman's career decisions.

another quick comment. what is culturally seen as 'successful' or 'unsuccessful' should not be a major consideration in a woman's career choices. motherhood used to be the only option for women. now that there are other options, a woman should not leave behind motherhood as if it were somehow as outdated as societies' inequalities. whatever you choose to do, do it well. in this lies success.

2) men and women deserve mostly equal treatment

this is true. remember that women and men are not the same. sometimes we look at events or situations and say, 'ah hah! that was sexist--the man was somehow preferred.' but rarely (if ever) do we look at events from the opposite perspective to say, 'ah hah! that man held the door for that girl, but not for the man behind her! how sexist!' women tend to expect premium treatment from men, and i think that it should be given to them. whether or not they deserve it. women are not men, and do not need to be treated as men, but should be treated with more care and respect. this is sexist. it is also what most women prefer.

a brief story. in high school, i was in a class taught by an older gentleman. he was very good at what he did and everyone loved him. looking back, it was more of a college class format than any other high school class i had. this included occasional side conversations as the teacher lectured. on one occasion, this girl in the front row was continually talking. though the teacher was not angry, he did have to ask her to quiet down a few times during the class period. finally, at one point he interrupted his lecture, walked up to her and asked, "do you believe in equal treatment for men and women?" she responded, that yes, she did. he promptly slapped her in the face as he often did, playfully, to his male students. she didn't say a thing, though she was certainly surprised! i have often thought about that instance, not trying to judge whether it was 'right' or 'wrong,' but just to consider the expectations of women in regard to gender equality.

do women want equality or fairness? are they the same thing? are women already equal?

i would be interested in responses from both men and women.

in conclusion i would like to share with you this horribly politically incorrect demotivational poster. i hope it makes you smile.

with love,

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


so i guess i would like to start this out by talking about the title: RONHIC. it is an acronym.

okay, moving on.

ROTD: there is a certain phrase that people use that kills me. and when i say 'kill,' i mean that i feel murdered when i hear it. there is no other phrase that could possibly be more offensive than this one. it usually comes about because a friend, classmate, or coworker does something nice for you and you thank them. however, instead of responding with a polite and sophisticated 'you're welcome,' they say something like this: 'it's the least i can do.'

oh the horror! the agony! the unfairness of this cold, bitter world!

'the least you can do?' wow, thanks for explaining it to me. you see, from my point of view, you did something of value for me. i was thankful! thankful enough to actually voice my gratitude. but the fact is, two people often see the same situation in different ways. so perhaps i should thank you once more. usually i do not get the pleasure of understanding how others see me, but this is informative. i can imagine exactly how this happened from your point of view:

< wow, he thanked me for trying to help him out. this morning as i ate my corn puffs i pondered, looking for some way to make him mad. i thought of all the things that i could do for him, including some that he is probably expecting me to do, and formed a mental list. eventually i decided to do the very least helpful thing possible. yes, despite all i am capable of, i settled for the thing that would require the very least effort, that would not require me to give of myself in any way. yet somehow i still got a 'thank you.' weird. or wait... maybe that was sarcasm. he was saying 'thank you' to show me that he noticed how little i did for him. perhaps i should respond by saying 'it's the least i can do.' >

perhaps in the future i will talk about the wisdom of installing what i call a BMSF. a BMSF can prevent us from saying stupid things that we will likely regret. a very useful device, i assure you.

that is all for now. until next time,