What I learned as a Boy Scout

Over the past week, as my thoughts moved toward the new year before us, somehow they also seemed to pull from the past. At one point, a book that was popular in the 1980s came to mind: All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten [Robert Fulghum, 1988]. That book was not about “knowledge learning”. It was about “things of life” learning that begins very early.  That moment of reminiscence, in turn, got me to thinking about a similar recollection in my own life.

I was fortunate to grow up in what most people today would call a “traditional” family, and in what many would call “Small-town America”. The value system this upbringing instilled in me is one that coincides very closely with the value system of our Founding Fathers — see Our Founders at this site.

It was this value system that generated my interest in the Boy Scouts of America. If you look at their Oath, their Law, their Motto, and their Slogan, it is easy to understand why an eleven-year-old boy with my upbringing would be attracted to this organization [my Boy Scout involvement was actually a natural progression from being a Cub Scout from age eight to age eleven].

I went on to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, that organization’s highest honor. I doubt that most people understand what is involved in achieving that rank as a Boy Scout, and what the mindset of a boy in his pre-teen and early teen years has to be to achieve that goal.  Nothing I could write here could produce that understanding, but let me say that a love for God and country is at the root of that mindset.

Although Scouting has in recent years yielded to the “Political Correctness” movement and deviated from what it was in my Scouting years, the basic tenets of Scouting offer much today that could help us become a better society than we are at this point in our history. 

Scout Oath.  On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight [the connotation of “straight” in this context is not what “the LGBT community” might attach to it today — it is much broader in scope].

Scout Law.  A scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

Scout Motto. Be Prepared.

Scout Slogan.  Do a good turn daily.

Can you imagine how many of our problems would just go away if everybody displayed the attitude described in these creeds?

So How Is All Of This Relevant To Anybody But Me? …

In what I’ve written in this post to this point, I’ve tried to articulate a backdrop to saying what I believe are my responsibilities as a U. S. citizen [which I believe are the responsibilities of all U. S. citizens].

The path to the Eagle Scout rank includes a number of specifically-listed requirements, one of which [probably the largest in terms of difficulty and time required to complete] is earning 21 merit badges, about two thirds of which are required [the rest being elective based on individual interests].  Merit badge requirements vary, but on average I’d say the overall load on the schedule of a boy meeting Eagle Scout requirements is about like adding at least one additional middle-/high-school class to a full academic year, maybe more.

Three of the required merit badges were Citizenship in the Home, Citizenship in the Community, and Citizenship in the Nation.  I was reminded of this recently when I read an article in the [Nashville] Tennessean about a bill currently under consideration by the Tennessee House of Representatives that would make passing a civics test a requirement for high school graduation.  And get this … the test would be the same civics test administered to immigrants looking to become U.S. citizens!  It seems unconscionable to me that we require immigrants seeking U. S. citizenship to know more of the basic rudiments of our government and how it works [ostensibly] than we do of a young citizen just entering the ranks of the voting population! If you’ve ever watched Watters’ World or [until he retired] Jay Leno’s Jaywalking segments on The Tonight Show, you can see that this lack of emphasis in our educational system has produced a generation of people who don’t have a clue about their government.

So, with the backdrop I’ve tried to present to this point, I believe every U. S. citizen has, at a minimum, the following responsibilities:

  • Learn, if they don’t know it already, at least the information on the civics test administered to immigrants looking to become U.S. citizens — preferably many times this very basic level of knowledge in civics.
  • Regularly pay attention to news [being careful to evaluate sources] and keep themselves informed on local, state, national and international matters.
  • Prepare for every election available to them — read candidate platforms and decide in advance which ones most closely align with their value system and their philosophy on government’s role [and ignore, to the extent possible, all negative mud-slinging ads].

{Note. … In this regard, it can be helpful for an individual to identify advocacy organizations which he/she trusts and which are aligned with his/her value system and philosophy on government’s role, and use the research data and recommendations provided by those organizations in his/her assessments of candidates for office. However, caveat civis [let the citizen beware] definitely applies here — an individual trusting an organization in this way should know it very well; many advocacy organizations purport to be one thing in order to gain appeal, but actually have much different philosophical views than their names and public profiles might portray.}

  • Vote in every election available to them — local/municipal, county, state and national.

To me, these are the basics that apply to every citizen. The propensity for more active, perhaps intense, involvement will vary greatly by individual. I’ll close with just a few examples of ways in which a person who is so inclined can act on that inclination: write opinion letters to his/her local newspaper; express his/her opinions on issues of the day in discussions with friends; be an advocate for candidates for office who share his/her values; encourage people he/she knows and respects to run for office; consider running for public office; join a political party; help with a campaign; join a civic group; join a community group; give an elected official your opinion on an issue; call senators and representatives; publicly support or oppose an issue or policy.



Charles M. Jones

Election Aftermath – 6

question-mark-faceToo Many People Don’t Vote!

Of all the statistics one can glean from exit polls and from the voting statistics stemming from this election, probably the most alarming is the fact that around 90 million people in this country who are eligible to vote don’t vote. That’s more than 27 times the average popular vote difference in the last 5 presidential elections, and over 148 times the average popular vote difference in 2000 and 2016 [the two closest races in that time period]. Of those, 13 million don’t even bother to REGISTER to vote. That’s more than 4 times the average popular vote difference in the last 5 presidential elections, and over 20 times the average popular vote difference in 2000 and 2016.

Just think about those numbers for a moment.  The people who don’t even vote could literally seize control of America if they could do three things very well in the year or so leading up to a presidential election: 1) develop a common cause [or a small, easy-to-communicate set of causes] around which they could rally themselves and either an Extreme Left or an Extreme Right “base”; 2) put together an effective Social Media campaign strategy [which would require only a fraction of the money traditional campaigns spend on media advertising]; and 3) execute that strategy as effectively as the Trump campaign just did and the Sanders campaign almost did.

In a way, that’s encouraging, and in another way, it’s scary.  It’s encouraging because, as the Trump campaign just demonstrated [and as the campaign that defeated Senator Eric Cantor did in 2014, and as the Sanders campaign almost did this year], there is clearly a paradigm shift underway, and traditional views of what wins elections no longer “rule”.  It’s scary because how the 90 million non-voters think, and what causes they might develop to rally around, is a huge unknown — i.e., other than demographic information [age, sex, race, marital status, etc.], there are no election statistics, exit polls, etc., to give any insight into who they are and how they think, and assuming that they could simply be lumped into “buckets” based on demographics alone would be a very risky basis for making predictions.

Something that would be most interesting to know, but which is probably impossible to accurately measure, is the percentage of the people involved in all the demonstrations going on who actually voted in this election.  If most of them voted and they’re just frustrated because they lost or elated because they won, I guess demonstrations are fine as long as they don’t turn violent [as some have] — and as long as they don’t simply throw back to Trump supporters or Clinton supporters the same kind of hate speech that both of these candidates used in their campaigns [which at this point is totally unproductive and even counterproductive].  But if they didn’t vote and they’re involved in demonstrations, shame on them!  I’ve quoted President Garfield before, but what he said is wise counsel to anybody who is demonstrating but didn’t vote: “The people are responsible for the character of their [leaders]. If [they] be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption.  If [they] be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities [in the people who] represent them”. In other words, “they” didn’t bring this situation about; you did!

People considering running for office in the future, as well as those now in office and having a desire to remain there, would be wise to take the dynamic I’m referring to here into account as they continue in their current roles and/or aspire to other roles.

Moving on to a different and more currently significant subject. …

In looking at key appointments Mr. Trump is already making, I am even more encouraged that he is a man who will ultimately overcome the negative impressions many people have of him and rise to the challenges of the office. Some of his appointments are “establishment” people — a recognition on his part that although he campaigned as — and in large part was elected because he is — an “outsider”, he will need more “political savvy” than he personally has to be successful.  I believe he is a man who has keen insight into “goings on”, and that this insight, maybe even intuition, gives him a unique ability to “know what he doesn’t know” and fill in the gaps with people who do know those things.

Our President Elect has two other qualities which I believe, when combined with that mentioned in the preceding paragraph, will make him a successful President.  He is a proven leader and decision-maker, something that has been grossly missing during the current administration. Also, he clearly has a love for his country and thinks of it as exceptional.  Whether he will be as good a President as I believe he has the capacity to be remains to be seen, but at this point, I am encouraged, and will pray to that end.


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Charles M. Jones

Election Aftermath – 3

Out of respect for our veterans on this day that we honor them each year, I’ll make this post short and to the point. The rights of all citizens of this nation exist because our founding fathers were willing to step up to the challenges and risks of forming this nation and for these rights say “We sacrifice our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor”. These rights have been preserved and defended by thousands of brave men and women who have fought and died to protect them — and they are still being protected today by the finest military forces on the planet.

It is appalling to me to see the hatred and vitriol on display after the 11/8/16 election. It dishonors the people who gave these very protestors their right to protest. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. set the bar for peaceful, non-violent protests as a way to raise the country’s consciousness of issues.  People ostensibly representing both “the Clinton side” and “the Trump side” are passing so far under that bar that they don’t even see that it’s there.

I hope and pray that all of this is just “flash in the pan” temper tantrums being thrown by those who feel they lost and unwarranted gloating by those who feel they won, and that it will subside quickly as all of them realize how foolish they look. All of them need to realize that they are first Americans, and then members of whatever constituency(ies) they identify with. Without that attitude, this nation will not survive in the long run.

Thanks to our veterans, living and dead, and thanks to the men and women currently serving in all branches of the military today. We appreciate what you do, and we respect you for your willingness to protect the freedoms we all enjoy. People in the streets who are holding vitriolic signs and shouting hateful and profane threats and destroying property are not rising to the bar set by Dr. King, are they are not representative of the massive numbers of Americans who will not see this post but who I am certain would join me in saying what I’ve said here.

Thank you!

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Charles M. Jones

Down The Stretch – 1

In deciding on content for this last daily Down The Stretch post before Election Day, my thoughts go to “bottom line” thinking. The byline on the Home Page of this web site is “Currently dedicated to identifying and understanding the current paradigm, and the new paradigm that is rapidly developing, in the USA [and as applicable, in the World]. Future plans: monitor development of the new paradigm and identify signs of future paradigm shifts“.  I am convinced that a major paradigm shift is underway in this country, and I honestly believe this election is, at a minimum, a major “cog” in the “wheel” of that shift.  On the pages of the site, and in the blog posts I’ve made to it over the past couple of months, I have attempted to express an “orbiting the planet” perspective on this highly unusual campaign — a bigger-picture view than the “can’t see the forest for the trees” perspective so prevalent in the media. [Christian readers, please see an important note below* about perspective.]

Practically all we’ve heard in three debates between two very poor choices before us, in billions of dollars in media ads produced by their campaigns and “Super PACs”, and in non-stop media coverage focused almost entirely on these things, is “he said, she said” arguments about scandal, derogatory remarks, etc., always capped off with “this man/woman is unfit to be President” [this “capping off” phrase probably being the only truth in all of that].  Almost everybody I know just wants this entire disaster to be over.

So when I get to “bottom line” thinking, my mind migrates toward the things that actually seem to matter from an “orbiting the planet” perspective. The very first thing that came to mind this morning was prompted by an interview-style article on “Politics and Christianity” in my local newspaper in which a panelist said “We are not responsible for the candidates that have been given to us“. Wrong! On the Our Founders page in the America’s Heritage section of this site appear some very wise words from President Andrew Garfield: “The people are responsible for the character of their [leaders]. If [they] be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption.  If [they] be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities [in their leaders]”.  So in the words of Pogo [Walt Kelly], “We have met the enemy, and he is us”. The candidates have not “been given to us” as the above-mentioned panelist claims. From a long-term perspective, we produced this dilemma and have nobody to blame for it but ourselves.

The next “bottom-line” thought I would offer is that the current system is what it is, and regardless of what we may think we may be doing through a “making a statement” vote for anybody other than the narcissistic bully or the poster child of corrupt politics — or by not voting — all we’d be doing is shooting ourselves in the foot.  There are clearly some flaws in our current system that need to be fixed, and some “statements” definitely need to be made about them — and how we vote is one of the ways we can “make a statement”.  My “bottom line” thought, however, is that this is not the time to do that.  To use military terminology, “hills to die on” must be picked wisely, and with what is at stake in this election, voting in a way that makes us “feel good” could very likely result in our “dying” on a hill where our “death” isn’t significant from the perspective of the overall “war”.

The third and final “bottom line” thought I’d offer going into Election Day is something that has been an underlying theme in many of my posts to this blog — it’s not about the candidates and their equally disgusting profiles;  it’s about the platforms of the parties they represent.  The choice we have before us is between two diametrically opposed ideologies, and those ideologies are clearly evident in the Republican and Democrat party platforms [Republican Party PlatformDemocrat Party Platform]. In one of my blogs I provided this comparison of the two party platforms on ten key issues: Party Philosophy Comparison.  Another comparison I offered in one of my posts was this comparison of “baggage” each candidate carries, weeding out media hype and just boiling it down to known facts [this clearly shows that both of these candidates are more or less “tied” when considering their indiscretions and flaws]: Clinton-Trump Comparison.

So the real “bottom line” is this: every voter needs to 1) vote [i.e., not refrain from voting at all], 2) understand that under the current system, a vote for anyone other than Trump or Clinton is essentially a vote for one of them anyway, and 3) understand that a vote for what they consider to be the “lesser of two evils” if that vote is for the party least aligned with their own worldview and value system, may actually be a vote for the candidate of the other party anyway [because in this election, historical trends like which major-party candidate generally benefits from “alternative candidates” who draw votes away from those two is impossible to predict — not even the “best of the experts” can accurately project those dynamics in this election].

PLEASE vote!

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Charles M. Jones

* Christian readers …

I realize that an even higher-level perspective than the “orbiting the planet” view I try to present is the Biblical worldview perspective [with which I personally identify], in which all things here are transitory, and the ultimate end is known as revealed by God in His Word. From that perspective, movement along God’s path to ultimate fulfillment of His plan will be neither accelerated nor retarded by this election.  My goal at this point is to present concepts in terms that people of any religion or no religion can relate to, so I try to refrain from routine use of terminology that may turn some readers away because it sounds “churchy”.

An Introduction To USAparadigm.com

According to experts on blogs, if I’m going to capture your attention with this, my introductory blog post at this site, I must do so in the next few sentences. I sincerely hope I can do that, … read more

According to experts on blogs, if I’m going to capture your attention with this, my introductory blog post at this site, I must do so in the next few sentences.  I sincerely hope I can do that, because I honestly believe I have a perspective on “goings on” in America that makes me more than just another blogger in the [insert your own adjective: Liberal; Conservative; Republican; Democrat; White; African-American; Asian; Gay; Straight; Religious; Non-Religious; Wall Street; Main Street …] Camp. This country is on a path to a future that the vast majority of its citizens will find very undesirable — from many perspectives, but although I see the country [just as anyone else does] through the lens of my ideological worldview, the financial situation will ultimately make all ideological considerations moot if we don’t develop the political will in our leadership to get ourselves onto a more sustainable fiscal path.  If you don’t agree with me at this point and your interest in what I have to say is waning, PLEASE consider the possibility that there may actually be something to my claim of potentially bringing a broader — perhaps even unique — perspective to the endless stream of opinions from bloggers in the various camps mentioned parenthetically above, and at least read the rest of this introductory blog post before making a decision to move on to something else.  If you agree with me to this point, I’d like to assume that you will at least read the rest of this introductory blog post [if that assumption is incorrect, all I can do is ask you to PLEASE reconsider — for the same reason]. Continue reading “An Introduction To USAparadigm.com”

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