05 Mar Lessons from Home
From the Desk of Laura Bunker:
From January through April, the lives of our pro-family volunteers and staff are particularly busy!
From working with state legislatures on pro-family policy, to a hectic series of UN meetings where we labor to protect the family, to releasing our new publication: “Divorce: 100 Reasons Not To…”, to presentation after presentation on the dangers to Religious Freedom – we at United Families International are giving it our best for you and for families around the world.
We do want to remind you of some of the tools that we have created to help you in your efforts to educate and unite those around you in the cause of families.
There is much that all of us can be doing. Please make sure you start with strengthening your own family.
Faithfully for families,
President, United Families International
Lessons from Home
By Tom Christensen
In 1998, Robert Fulgham wrote a national bestseller, All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Fulgham concludes that the application of simple childhood lessons–sharing, being kind, cleaning up after oneself, balancing work, play, and studies–can help one avoid or overcome many of life’s most difficult challenges.
Likewise, adherence to simple values taught in the home (i.e., family unity, self-reliance, spiritual and temporal preparedness, private charity, and character education) can help a nation achieve a balanced, “more perfect union.” National systems grounded on such principles truly excel in caring for the poor, maintaining an adequate tax base, and growing the economy. To sum it up, All I Really Need to Know (about running a government) I Learned at Home.
Following are examples.
1. Strengthening the Family
My parents stayed together and modeled for me and my three siblings the basic skills, values and attributes essential to a full, prosperous, balanced, happy life.
A network of strong, independent families is the most effective welfare and human development program on earth. At very little cost to the state, children in stable, enduring families are created, loved, cared for, nurtured, mentored, and protected. Indeed, “the family springing from the lifelong union of a man and woman in the holy estate of marriage is the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization” (Murphy v. Ramsey, 1888). Wise leaders thus stress “the integrity and preservation of the family unit” (John F. Kennedy), rather than ignore, denigrate, redefine, or replace it.
2. Taxation Policy
I was taught in childhood to pay tithes and offerings. The word tithe means a tenth part of one’s income. While tithing is used to pay for administrative and infrastructure costs, other donations such as fast offerings (where every able member fasts for 24 hours each month and gives the cost of the missed meals) pay for medical, clothing, food, and job training programs.
Likewise, nations with a flat tax and a voluntary/separately funded humanitarian program are superior to those saddled to a graduated, complicated, redistributive tax system. Something is wrong in a country where half of its citizens pay no federal income taxes. The prescient French historian Alexis de Tocqueville observed in the 1830’s: “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
3. Fiscal Responsibility
I was taught to work hard, be honest in my dealings, operate on a budget, be frugal but generous, spend no more than is taken in, avoid debt (especially credit card debt), and save for a rainy day.
Such principles are often lost on politicians and appointed officials. In the United States, the government is $18 trillion in debt, not counting entitlement debt. It has not balanced a budget in years. To stay afloat, it prints/borrows money, artificially holds interest rates down, and raids trust funds. Although the sky has not yet fallen on the US, the day of reckoning is coming.
4. Private versus Public Charity
My parents stressed the principle of private charity, which blesses the giver and receiver. Private charity is voluntary “temporary and partial assistance…with basic life-sustaining goods and services… with work opportunities for that which is received… to build integrity, self-respect, dignity and soundness of character in each person assisted, leading to complete self-sufficiency.” 1
On the other hand, public charity is compulsory, long-term, governmental, and usually demands nothing in return. Not having a choice or knowing how or where one’s funds are spent, the giver seldom experiences joy or satisfaction in paying taxes. Recipients often develop a feeling of entitlement to money compelled from the anonymous “rich who make more than they need” and feel little incentive to work or pay back. It undermines individual dignity, the family, and job/capital creation.
5. Character Education
There is more to learning and success than academic mastery. Mahatma Gandhi, whose nonviolent leadership led to the unification and independence of India, warned of “the seven great blunders” that over time would take down both government and civil society: (1) wealth without work, (2) pleasure without conscience, (3) knowledge without character, (4) commerce without morality, (5) science without humanity, (6) worship without sacrifice, and (7) politics without principle.
Fortunately, I was taught the second element of Gandhi’s paradigm–the moral element—in my home. However far too many learned people are ignorant of the value of work, sacrifice, character, private charity, and humanity. “To educate a person in mind and not in morals,” stated Theodore Roosevelt, “is to educate a menace to society.” Societies controlled by such menaces quickly lose their goodness, freedom, families, and prosperity.
“The family is the corner stone of our society. More than any other force it shapes the attitude, the hopes, the ambitions, and the values of the child. And when the family collapses it is the children that are usually damaged. When it happens on a massive scale the community itself is crippled. So, unless we work to strengthen the family, to create conditions under which most parents will stay together, all the rest – schools, playgrounds, and public assistance, and private concern – will never be enough.” 2
A nation will endure so long as it resists the blunders that tear it apart and embraces the moral values and institutions that make it good, strong, free, balanced, and united. Just ask my mother!
Tom Christensen, a founder and former CEO of United Families International, is an expert on local government law, having served as a civil attorney for Salt Lake County for thirty years. He and his wife, Dixy, have fifteen children, four married with outstanding families of their own, and ten grandchildren.
1) Thomas Monson, “Guiding Principles of Personal and Family Welfare,” Ensign Magazine.
2) Lyndon B. Johnson, “To Fulfill These Rights,” Address at Howard University, June 1965.