As we struggle to move away from the difficult and challenging events of the past two years, I wanted to take this opportunity to express myself in writing. These past years have certainly been a difficult and challenging time. We have all shared many common and sometimes unique experiences and feelings. Many among us have suffered much, some much more than others. So, I felt I needed to share some personal thoughts and opinions surrounding this very unusual time. For the record, these are just my own personal observations and opinions. I am not an ecclesiastical leader, nor am I a person of authority. I am not trying to impose my opinions; I am trying to express my observations and thoughts. I am just a man with a computer and a viewpoint.
First let me say, I am a proud citizen of the United States of America. I love my country. I support the rule of law, the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights. I strive to honor and support our National and Local leaders. And I vote my conscience!
I am also a retired military officer. It was my privilege to serve in the United States Air Force from 1968 through 1994. On the day of my commissioning, I solemnly swore an oath to my God and my Country. I have not forgotten that oath, and it has no expiration date. In essence, I made the following oath: “…I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, Foreign and domestic, …I bear true faith and allegiance to the same; …I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and …I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
While on active duty, I lived and served in various locations around the World. I am a Vietnam War Veteran (like so many other brave veterans, my eyes have seen and taken mental pictures my brain cannot forget). After Vietnam, I served as a U.S. Air Force Intelligence Specialist. Later, I received advanced training as a Military Foreign Affairs Officer (FAO). My primary area of responsibility (my AOR) was the Middle East Area. My duties included serving as a regional area specialist (analyst, trainer, and area briefing officer). In that capacity, I also served in many other faraway locations, both peaceful and hostile. In 1994, I retired honorably from active duty. I have always been proud to be an American and to wear the uniform of the United States Air Force (USAF).
However, some of the national events these past two years (2020-2021) in our country have caused me to worry a bit about our future. America is still the greatest country in the World, “a Promised Land,” and “a beacon on the hill.” Along with millions of other Americans, I still “acknowledge the providence of Almighty God” on America, the country and home I love. I still have Hope, but I am concerned about some of the events I have witnessed recently in our nation. That said, I now want to express some of my thoughts and feelings about what concerns me most and a little about how I am dealing with these disturbing events.
This has been an unusual and at timed disturbing period in our history! The time has been dominated by a worldwide pandemic …caused and spread by foreign adversaries. It has prematurely claimed the lives of many thousands of American citizens, nearly shut down our national economy, and caused the imposition of national and statewide “social distancing.” Our regular and essential social activities (e.g., traveling, visiting, mingling, dining out, attending religious services, celebrating the Holidays, etc.) have been limited, and in some cases, prohibited. And, we have watched (and sometimes experienced) increased social unrest, violent protests, looting, and rioting (racial and political) in major cities across America. These are apparent attacks on the nation our Founding Fathers envisioned and established. And clearly, they are attacks on our most cherished beliefs and principles of freedom. Sadly, these issues have not been resolved yet.
Also, there have been hate-filled and divisive National Political elections and transitions of leadership. In contrast, we would like to have seen more civil and constructive dialog between the political parties and candidates as we seek “honest and dependable candidates who would uphold and defend the Constitution.” Sadly, that has not been the case. Instead, we have witnessed a climate of social and political unrest, including strident and hateful political dialog in our country. There has clearly been a breakdown in civility and an exhausting struggle between the major political parties, both national and statewide. They have become polarized, antagonistic, and unwilling to compromise. In addition, we have learned, there has been an apparent effort to undermine our otherwise reliable and trusted voting and election process. This includes overwhelming evidence of severe and illegal voter fraud, ballot harvesting, widespread ballot manipulation, and now, an effort to change/corrupt our voting laws to favor one side or another. Clearly, some political party members and players are cheating! And it has become difficult to identify positive, meaningful, and noble campaign efforts.
With all that we see going on in politics, I also see another serious problem. Many of our major news outlets, which should provide honest, fair, and objective coverage, have taken sides in the ongoing electoral process and are providing grossly partisan propaganda. Many so-called news agencies have abandoned real news in favor of and supporting a radical anti-American agenda. It is apparent, we can no longer rely on the traditional mainstream news outlets (print and broadcast news) to gather and present truthful and fair political coverage. Their dishonesty is a betrayal of their professional duty. I know many thousands of U.S. citizens feel as I do. (Frankly, there are a few honest news outlets still available. We just need to look hard to find them.)
These past two years have been unlike any year I have ever witnessed. And I suspect these developments (the pandemic, the rioting and violence, the hateful political dialog, the apparent voter fraud, and the “fake news”) are all somehow related and probably orchestrated. Combined, they have created an atmosphere of “Great Tribulation” in America. These conditions have been troubling to me. They undermine the strength of our great nation. And I fear they are the seeds of anarchy in this promised land of peace!
However, despite these disturbing developments, I still have Hope for a glorious future in America. I am still striving to stay calm and will continue to obey the rule of law. I continue to pray regularly to my God for blessings upon our great nation, the United States of America. I trust in God, and because of my faith in Jesus Christ, I have Hope. But I believe I should also be prepared. I must be prepared! (I confess I have considered buying a firearm to protect my home and family. I believe that is my duty!) I am grateful for a true and living Prophet on the earth today. I trust our Prophet and all the Brethren who serve with him! I sincerely pray for their good health and their continued and inspired leadership as they guide the Lord’s Church in these “times of tribulation.” I strive to align myself with the Prophet and the Brethren and follow their counsel. And I continue to seek and listen for inspiration, guidance, and reassurance from the Holy Spirit of God.
So, what more can I, or should I, be doing? (What should we be doing?) Indeed, we must support national and local efforts to mitigate and control the national COVID-19 pandemic. We must respect and honor our national and civic duties. But we must also take a stand against anarchy. When and where possible, we must expose the lies, defend the truth, and support local and national law enforcement. We should also respect and defend the inspired Constitution of the United States and support and honor the Bill of Rights. We should never allow others to censor or silence our Freedom of Speech nor our right to peaceful assembly. Where possible, we should stand up and fight back against their censorship. And we should always speak the truth.
On a very personal level, I firmly believe we should also be prepared spiritually (we should keep our lamps trimmed)! Find time to prayerfully study and ponder the Holy Scriptures. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ! Learn of Him! “Be still …and know that He is God!” (Psalm 46:10 and D&C 101:16) Remain true and faithful to Him! And serve others in need!
Finally, despite these past years of much tribulation, I am still healthy and comfortable at home. As I write this, I am 75 years old, I am still retired, and I still have my “hobbies.” I live in a great place. I love my wife and my family, and I have good neighbors. Although my confidence in the peace and safety of this great nation has been challenged, I still have Hope for America. I am confident America will survive. I still love and trust the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Savior and Redeemer, the God of Heaven and Earth! He is the Holy One of Israel (2 Nephi 27:30). I am thankful for His love, kindness, and mercy. Because of Him, I have Hope for the future!