Last weekend, I attended the Smart Girl Summit in St Louis, MO. It was a bit of a last-minute decision to participate, but something I felt really strongly I wanted to do. One of the speakers was Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the Eagle Forum and author of too many books for me to count on my two hands (and my feet!). I picked up a copy of her latest book, The Flipside of Feminism, and if the speech she gave is any indicator of how good the book is, let’s just say that I am really looking forward to reading it. What’s most amazing to me is that she has been at the forefront of the pro-family movement since before I was born, yet for some reason remained unknown to me. She was a prominent figure in helping to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and has just an amazing life story to tell. What I connected to the most is that her message (and life) exemplifies something that I have felt my entire adult life, but was unable to express, either because I couldn’t find the right words or because I felt almost every other woman I had met in my life disagreed with me, that my life experiences were, in some way, unique. Her message is simply this: that women are capable of succeeding entirely on their own, without the help of men (or even, imagine this…the government) to pave the way forward. That’s right. You heard me. Men did not give women the rights and power and freedom that they have today. It was there all the time, waiting for them to seize it.

See, I was born in 1977 and, while growing up, I repeatedly heard the message that the feminist movement had opened all these doorways that are available for me today and without them, I would simply be stuck raising children and cooking and cleaning. I considered myself fortunate to be born at such a great time, and still do, though not because of women’s rights, but because of all the modern conveniences that make our lives so leisurely. I was doubly fortunate to have parents who encouraged me in whatever interests I chose to pursue and taught me that the whole world was open to me. I had only to choose my dreams and work hard to pursue them.

If you would have asked me growing up if I was a “feminist,” I would have agreed quite heartily, “Of course, I believe in equal rights for women.”

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John Galt may be the man who stopped the motor of the world, but Craig Root is the man who stopped traffic…on I-95, anyway.

In August of 2009, our family made a move from Rhode Island to Florida. Shortly before crossing from Georgia into Florida, along I-95, we drove past a billboard that stuck out, if only for a brief moment, because it bore the single phrase “Who is John Galt?” in large white letters against a dark background. Now, I have to admit that I did not know, at that time, the origin of the bizarre question, hung so flagrantly in midair against the dark background of the nighttime sky and the trees enveloped within it. So, I wondered for a moment about the obscurity of it before shaking myself back to reality and the rest of the long drive that lay before me. It wouldn’t be long, however, before I would find my answer.

That Christmas, I received a copy of Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged. I had been spending a lot of time on the internet and everywhere I went the web was abuzz about what a great book it was. I had attempted to read The Fountainhead my senior year in high school, for a scholarship contest to which I wanted to apply, but didn’t make it very far before more interesting (read: frivolous and fun) endeavors caught my attention. (I never made it past the first chapter.) Needless to say, I was significantly more successful in this attempt and reaped the rewards of not only being able to now take part in conversations which were previously reserved for that exclusive crowd “in the know,” but also of having read one of the greatest works ever written. Ayn Rand was able to express things I had known and felt my entire life, but was never quite able to put into words…that man’s greatest virtue is not sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice alone, but rather discipline, drive, and dedication to fulfill one’s own needs and desires. It’s not giving to someone else that matters, but rather doing for yourself without taking advantage of others. I know, at first glance, that these ideas seem foreign and perhaps even a little outrageous. This was especially true when they were first written. At its heart, however, above all, it’s about personal responsibility. And that’s something I think everyone can agree is important.

So, I’ve taken this same route many times since then. Every time, I have forgotten about the billboard since my last trip and it jumps out at me as a pleasant surprise and makes me chuckle. By the time it occurs to me to take a picture, we’ve driven past and it remains only a memory, to be forgotten again by our next journey northward. I make a mental note, of course, to have my camera ready on my next trip. Each time, I reassure myself “next time…next time.” I spotted the billboard once again (almost two years later), still spreading its mysterious, yet meaningful, message to the world, on the drive home from Beaufort, South Carolina a few weeks ago. This time I became bound and determined, picture or not, to find out something more about this iconic landmark. Continue Reading »

Every life journey will inevitably be cobbled with periods of unrest and uncertainty. As we travel through life we will come upon paths that have become overgrown or muddied. It’s not easy to tell which direction to go. We quite easily lose our way.

It is during these times that we question our lives and the surroundings we find ourselves in. How did I get here? Where am I going? How will I know if I’m headed in the right direction? What tools and supplies will I need along the way to help me reach my destination? We search everywhere we can, trying to find clues. We often can’t tell if the paths that we find are the ones leading forward or the ones we came in on. The faster we charge ahead without any real direction, the more befuddled we become. Conviction is replaced by ambivalence. Our doubts quickly turn to fear.

We all experience these dilemmas in life, because some things are just universal.

But just as we are not the first to become lost, we will not be first to find our way forward. When we rely on the wisdom of those who have gone before us, we are able to find a unique clarity not apparent to those choosing to stumble through the brush without any guidance. And so it is today that I turn to a wiser and more learned man than myself.

There is a time-honored document, well known within Navy circles, that experiences little renown within the rest of society. Penned in 1896, by Ronald A Hopwood, an officer in the British Royal Navy, these “Laws” are just as valid today as they were at the time they were written and have inspired many a sailor to make enlightened, effective decisions throughout not only his Navy career, but his life. I hope that you will find them just as inspiring and that they will provide you some much needed guidance on your own journey through life.

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I was wandering through the blogosphere this morning and stopped in for a visit at Tarheel Red. It’s one of the many blogs I discovered when I first started writing here a few months ago. I enjoy reading it partly for the author’s writing skill, but also because my husband often talks about wanting to retire to North Carolina some day. Of course, I’m still hoping to win the lottery before then, so I can buy a nice piece of mountain property for my luxury estate…but those are daydreams for another time.

Tarheel had an interesting post, Abortion: What Is It?, to which I started to write a comment, when I realized that I apparently had much more to say on the topic than originally anticipated. So, I thought I’d give it a go at writing this post instead. I often find words limited in their ability to accurately express both feeling and opinions, especially on such controversial topics. But the more practice we get, the easier it becomes…

I used to be strongly pro-choice, but that was back when I naively believed that someone would surely only make such a decision under dire circumstances. Nowadays, it seems that many people want to use it as a means to skirt responsibility. There’s no need for caution in regards to safe sex, when we can reserve the inconvenience of worrying about that until after we get pregnant. All the while, we’re being egged on by a President who makes public statements that he doesn’t want his daughters to be “punished with a baby” because they made a mistake in judgment.

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A friend of mine asked on FB, the other day, how she could teach her kids about “giving.”   They seemed to be going through an “I want everything!” phase, as she put it.  So, she wondered how she might instill in them a desire and understanding of how important it is to give to others and the joy that comes from such giving.  Her idea was to take them each to the store to buy gifts for each other, but wondered whether this would simply lead to more presents under the tree.  This raised a very important question, which led me to conclude, after much thought, that the ways we often try to teach our children about “giving” have actually led, in part, to the current problems we, as a society, are facing.

What is “giving”?  What does it truly mean to “give” to someone else? 

To start…”Giving” involves sacrifice.  It’s true that you can give something to someone else that doesn’t belong to you, but that doesn’t invoke the spirit of giving and, therefore, does not produce the joy that results from giving from your heart.  In fact, giving something that doesn’t belong to you isn’t really “giving” at all…it’s stealing (even if it’s just the credit)!  If you haven’t lost anything, what have you given?

When you sacrifice something in order to “give” to others, there is a natural, good feeling that you get from placing another person’s needs before your own desires.  This is what’s meant by the phrase, “The joy of giving”…The joy that comes from being able to make someone else smile, from knowing that someone else’s day was made just a little bit brighter, because of you.  Without this intrinsic reward, “giving” really just becomes a chore, something we do because we think we should. Continue Reading »

Throughout all of the arguments regarding the size of government, one important fact is often overlooked.  It’s not about freedom and liberty or regulation and control.  It’s not a matter of opinion, but a fact, which can be laid out mathematically, plain as day:  Creating government jobs has a detrimental impact on the economy of the country many times as great as the benefit of creating private sector jobs.  How, you ask?  What’s the big difference?  It’s just a difference of ideology, right?  WRONG! Let’s start with an example, because who doesn’t love a good example.  Let’s say you live in a country of 100,000 “working” citizens.  And…of those 100,000, exactly 1,000 of them work for the government.  Let’s also assume that every “working” citizen makes exactly $100,000 per year.  (You can use any numbers you want.  This isn’t a trick.  It’s just easier to use round numbers.)  So, the entire income of all citizens in the country is:

100,000 x $100,000 = $10,000,000,000 (ten billion dollars)

Keeping in mind that 1,000 of these “workers” are government employees, the entire government salaries would add up to a grand total of:

1,000 x $100,000 = $100,000,000 (one hundred million dollars)

So…in order to be able just to pay the government employees, the entire country would have to be taxed at a rate of:

$100,000,000 / $10,000,000,000 = .01 (1%)

And each employee would pay taxes of:

$100,000 x .01 (1%) = $1,000

Let’s assume the cost of all the government programs is equal to the government employee salaries, or $100,000,000 (This number will remain the same throughout).  So, in the scenario described above, the entire government expenditures and tax revenue would both be $200,000,000 (two hundred million dollars) and each “worker” would pay $2,000 (2%) in taxes.

Now the fun part…JOB CREATION!!!  Let’s create private sector jobs, first… Continue Reading »

A disturbing trend that I’ve noticed is that many people today seem completely uninterested in getting involved in politics.  They certainly don’t want to run for public office.  They have no interest in meeting a politician face-to-face.  They don’t even want to talk (or hear) about politics and what is going on in Washington D.C.  It’s as if, somehow, talking about politics, or even having an opinion about public matters, makes them part of some bigger game that they just don’t want to get involved in.  They’d rather just leave it up to someone else to figure out.  Believe me…I know the feeling.  I’ve spent most of my life thinking that politics just wasn’t really my thing.  I figured I’d let other people who were more interested in that stuff to pay attention to all of the details.  You know, I’d vote in all the elections and all that, but otherwise, I’d just let them take the lead.  It seemed simple enough.  I could focus my efforts on what was really important to me.  Of course, in retrospect, I realize just how naive that was.

I’ve always been a strong believer in personal responsibility, but somehow, politics just seemed like this silly little game that I not only didn’t want to play, I didn’t even want to know the rules.  You know all the lawyer jokes.  Well…politicians were the only ones worse than the lawyers.  Besides, I figured, what harm could the politicians really do?  Our Constitution was built with a system of checks and balances to protect us.  Anyway, I believed that all Americans loved what our country stood for.  So why would anyone ever try to take away our freedoms?  Well, that was before politicians began speaking out against our country, our freedom, our economy, our personal choices and abilities…and before the country began to rally behind these types of candidates.

Now…I see things much differently.  I realize what our founding fathers put in place for us and what they expected from us as a responsible citizenry.  It wasn’t just about voting every two years and sleeping the rest of the time.  It wasn’t about electing someone to office, then turning a blind eye to what they do while they’re there.  It was about taking responsibility for OUR country and making sure that it remained in good hands at ALL times.  As citizens of the United States of America, we have been given both an opportunity and a responsibility unlike any others before us.  Sure, it’s a difficult and daunting task, but no one ever said that it would be easy, right? Continue Reading »