Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Looking for Joy?

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.
William Arthur Ward

As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness -- just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.” 

Laura Ingalls Wilder

 You've never met an ungrateful person who was happy, nor have you ever met a grateful person who was unhappy.

--Widely attributed to Zig Ziglar

The other day a group I was sitting with was asked about barriers to our fellowship with God. There can be many, but a persistently challenging one that I've been convicted by over the last few months is a lack of gratitude. 

Ungratefulness can creep in as comparison: "If only I were more like him", or "If only my life had more..."  A lack of gratitude can sneak up on us with a sudden, "I wish I were..."  It might be born of fatigue or discouragement: "Life would be so much easier if..."

No matter how it slithers, slinks, or slides into our lives, ungratefulness is an absolute happiness-killer and joy-stealer.   

Zig Ziglar's observation really caught me up short.  I've experienced way too many unhappy (discontented) days.  Is this really true?  If I'm unhappy, is it because I am ungrateful?  Looking inside I had to say to myself, "Wow, too often this IS true - my focus has fuzzed out into what might have beens and if onlys or what ifs" - all unruly undertakers of my joy.

So I started a personal campaign to be grateful.  Through the fall it was going reasonably well, and I can testify that it's absolutely true: counting blessings and being grateful leads to more happiness and a deepening of our confidence that God is at work, with a resulting contentment with what He's doing - one way I would define joy.

This month though, sinister Circumstance has reared his proverbially ugly head, as he so often does, and dag nab it - he is distracting and can really be downright scary!  And fear can quickly make us ungrateful.  Uncertainty can leave us wishing "if only." Difficulties can lead us to, well, counting our difficulties instead of counting our blessings, and pretty soon we're not sure that God is working, and we're definitely not content with what He's doing, and there goes our joy and the poor, tattered shreds of our happiness.  

The antidote, which I must keep practicing, is not to make Circumstance go away! (I used to think that was the solution.) The antidote, which I am determined to keep practicing, is to be grateful.  The odd thing is that gratitude reduces Circumstance to a little sniveling irritation that doesn't actually have very much power because, ta da! God IS actually working and He IS actually sovereign and He IS restoring and He IS redeeming and He IS my joy and He HAS blessed me with so MUCH for which I can be grateful. (And He IS NOT threatened by my issues with Circumstance!)

So today I'm grateful for the sunshine outside my office window and the children's voices on the playground.  I'm grateful for my wife (!) and my children (!), my two quirky Bernese Mountain Dogs, my work at a Christian school in the mountains, the challenges of my work, and that we're having chicken nuggets for lunch.  I'm grateful for my church, my co-workers, my somewhat-oddball-but-endearing community. I'm grateful for coffee this morning, and the sunrise. I'm thankful there are left-over cookies from last night's meeting.  I'm grateful for each student here at school; I'm grateful for a phone call this morning with someone who believes in my work and is an active supporter... I'm grateful, I'm grateful, I'm grateful...

Circumstance is still here - he's over there in the corner shivering and looking miserable because I have stolen his power.  And you know what?  I don't even feel a little bit sorry for him. 

Looking for your joy? See how many things you can find for which you can be grateful - I think you'll find it.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Scriptures for Parents

The Bible has much to say about vision for our children, and much as well about things both to do and to avoid with our kids.  Here's a link to a number of scriptures gathered in one place for parents.

Reality Discipline

Once again I'm posting here work connected with an article for my school's blog discussing "Reality Discipline" (Dr. Kevin Leman's term - for his website, click here) - or the idea that an effective way for kids to learn some of life's most important lessons is to let them experience the natural consequences of their actions (as long as the natural consequences are safe for them.) Closely related is discipline through the art of crafting consequences that are clearly connected to the offense. (For example, if you can't stop leaning back in your chair during dinner time, you can eat standing up.)  There's a wealth of resources around on being creative and judicious with this practice of allowing natural or closely connected consequences to form a major element of our parenting and discipline strategy, and at our school's newsletter blog I've listed a number of links - so I won't repeat those here. (If you'd like to see the main article and those links, click here.)

What I'd like to do here is just share a specific example from our experience that I think illustrated the point and paved the way for us to use quite a bit of "reality discipline" in our own parenting. We have to go back in time to somewhere in the early 90's...

Jenni was quite young at the time (I think about 5 or so?) and had been given a set of "Princess Jasmine" pajamas that were pretty exotic.  Pale green, with lots of "poofiness" and gauze, they seemed to make Jenni feel like a princess herself, and she was completely adorable in them. She loved those "jammies"!

I don't remember the occasion or some of the details as well as I used to, but Jenni one day decided to go outside and play in the Princess Jasmine pajama outfit.  Either her mother or I or both told her we didn't think that was a good idea - but Jenni was pretty determined, and out she went.  It wasn't long before we heard wails and tears - the gauze had gotten caught on something in the yard and had torn, and the jammies were desecrated! Jenni was upset, and I learned a valuable parenting lesson.

Jani or I could have argued the point with Jenni before she went out, or we could have really put our feet down and said no. We could have argued that mom and dad know best.  We could have bribed her not to do it.  We could have yelled and gotten angry when she insisted that she wanted her way.  But instead, by the grace of God, we just let her make what we thought was a bad decision.  And she received corrective discipline by experience - or what we used to accurately call, "the hard way."  The damage to her beloved pajamas taught her far more effectively than anything I could have said - and had I focused on preventing the destruction of the outfit ("for her own good," naturally) neither she nor I would have learned our lessons.

We can't always allow natural consequences to run their course - with children younger or older, there are times when we absolutely MUST step in to help prevent disaster. But where we can let our children make decisions, or give something a try by themselves or with minimal help, we should.  Some of their efforts will turn out badly, and we will share in the grief with the child who has made a bad choice or bungled along the way.  But many will turn out well, and we will share in the rejoicing. Either way, we will be empowering our children with some of life's most valuable lessons, things like...
  • Right and wrong exist, and I have to choose which way I will go.  There's no living for long in the grey.
  • My choices have consequences.
  • If I ignore the advice of others who have the wisdom I need, I'm more likely to get into trouble.
  • If I try to pretend that reality does not exist, it will bite me.
  • If I work hard and "pay the price," I will enjoy the rewards and satisfaction that follow.
  • Every achievement in life has to be worked for.
  • If I want an abundant life, I need to pursue actions and attitudes that lead toward that abundance.

Learning or correction through experience often truly is the hard way.  We also know, however, that it is often the best way to deeply acquire new wisdom, or patience, or a new skill or attitude.  We parents do our children a disservice if we consistently try to shelter them from the consequences of their actions.  Jani and I have found it difficult many, many times to not step in - and sometimes we have stepped in at the wrong time, and probably ruined a good time of instruction that the Lord was engaging in with our kids.What has probably continued to help us the most from the pajama incident on has been to remember that we're not raising these guys to be our kids.  We're raising them to be God's adults, operating with wisdom and strength in His world.  They will need to be independent, persistent, clever, tough, loving, creative, responsible, insightful, patient...  and they will never develop those qualities if we interfere with the discipline of reality.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Five Love languages

I've just been revisiting this subject in conjunction with an article soon to be published on our school's blog  (Click here if you're interested in a visit to the online newsletter/blog of Darren Patterson Christian Academy), and figured I would post here at GreenPlaces as well, since learning about the Five Love languages really has been one of the top most-helpful pieces of marriage "counseling" I've ever received.  If you're not familiar with Dr. Gary Chapman's work, this could literally change your life; if you've seen this before, perhaps this will just be a helpful reminder.  So that you can explore more, I've included a link to Dr. Chapman's site down below.  Learning to be fluent in your spouse's or child's love language is a great way to cultivate the "green pastures" in your life and your loved one's...

Quite a number of years ago now, I experienced one of those significant, eye-opening events that don't usually happen every day.  It's not typically every day that we experience what many have called a paradigm-shift -- a significant, even radical, change in the way we view the world around us.  This particular shift in perspective happened to me in a Sunday School class -- a class in which we were discussing a book by Dr. Gary Chapman entitled The Five Love Languages.

During the discussion time, my wife revealed that there was something I was doing that made her feel that I was taking advantage of her, that I didn't love her. And here's the source of the shift:  I had no idea!  I loved her as much as always, but I had no idea I was communicating in such a way that what I thought was loving she was perceiving as neglect.

The problem was that I was speaking the wrong "love language" -- saying and doing things that to me made sense, even communicated love and commitment, but to her said, "I don't care about you."  Learning about the Five Love Languages, and the revelation that learning to speak the right language at the right time was so important, changed our marriage and our parenting for the better.  Because, of course, the love languages apply not only to couples, but in the relationships we have with our children, our teens, and in many ways, those outside our homes.

How do we tell those around us that we care about them, that we love them?  If we speak "love" in a way that makes sense to us, but doesn't make as much sense to our spouse or teenager, we may not be expressing our affirmation or love nearly to the degree that we believe we are.  In fact, as was true in my case, we may not be communicating love or affirmation at all.

So what are these Five Love Languages?  In no particular order, they are: (these descriptions are from Dr.  Gary Chapman's website: more on that down below...)
  • Physical Touch:  A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face – they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive. Physical touch fosters a sense of security and belonging in any relationship.
  • Words of Affirmation:  Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten. Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.
  • Quality Time: In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there – with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby – makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful. Quality time also means sharing quality conversation and quality activities.
  • Acts of Service:  Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts.
  • Receiving Gifts: Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous – so would the absence of everyday gestures. Gifts are visual representations of love and are treasured greatly.
Dr. Chapman points out that most us, and most of our children, have one primary love-language, but often have a secondary language that also speaks strongly to us as well.  For example, one's primary language may be Quality Time, but receiving gifts also makes the person feel loved.  

A major challenge can occur when a husband's or wife's (or parent's/child's) primary language really doesn't mean very much to the other.  For example, if my primary love language is quality time, and gifts don't mean that much to me, I probably will try to spend lots of time with my wife, and am not likely to give her many gifts -- because to me gifts don't mean that much.  But what if her primary language is gifts, and time spent doesn't mean that much?  We're likely to go through life struggling with feelings of neglect -- of "just missing something."  But if I know she speaks "gift", then I can learn to speak that love language as well, and my wife will feel much more affirmed.  If she can learn to speak "quality time", then I in turn will feel much more loved.  

Since my wife and I first experienced this paradigm shift many years ago, we have the benefit now of recognizing that these things can change somewhat over time as we go through different life stages.  When I take Dr. Chapman's profile quiz now, my primary love language is different than it was around 20 years ago. We're discovering that the joy of working to learn and speak a spouse's or child's love language continues and grows with time - and that if we have different primary languages, we must continue to develop our ability (and willingness!) to actively speak the other's language.

Dr. Chapman has a whole host of additional resources on his website.  There you will find his books on the Five Love Languages, study guides to use with small groups, helps for understanding how to speak these languages in the midst of real life, and perhaps most helpful for taking this to the next level, a profile quiz  that will help you identify your primary love language, and help you explore your children's primary languages as well.  We've just scratched the service here; so much more is available to help you become fluent in the love-languages of the people you care most about.

To continue the journey, click here to go to Dr. Gary Chapman's website, or paste into your browser: www.5lovelanguages.com. 

I encourage each reader (and remind myself!) to explore more, learn more, and invest a little in becoming a better communicator of love and affirmation.  I can all but guarantee that your own "joy-meter" will go up, and that those closest to you will feel more surely how much you love them.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Relative Everything, Meaningful Nothing

I originally wrote the following poem after (as it says) attending a large convention of professional educators in Chicago some years ago. It's still meaningful to me, as I contemplate a culture that wants to create everything in its own image, and in doing so, loses any definitive meaning.  We live in a culture that overflows with words, but (possibly, at least) says very little.  So from out of the past, here are some "reflections."  The Ferocious Love that answers is still answering...  who's listening?

Reflections on a Big Meeting

(c) Erik Ritschard April 2000

You can feel the mental energy: intellects
Taking off on sudden flights of
Fancy, wheeling and soaring carelessly,
Or purposefully, delighting in the
Intoxication of a mind well-tuned,
Comprehending great ideas and high ideals,
As the delegates swirl in well-ordered
Confusion from one session to another.

Trouble is, most of it doesn’t mean anything.
Oh, the delegates will return
To their respective places
And positions with renewed determination
To Become Significant, but to what end?
One here said, “We must save the planet.” 
Why? While in all the prattle the pretensions
Of relative everything are carried forward
And promoted with such fervor,
No one speaks to the Ultimate Why.

The gods of this particular association do not like why –
At least not Ultimate Why.  How and When are easier
And much more comfortable than
The deep Why that would shake the sandy underpinnings.
Why is painted over with careful word-strokes that seem
To capture everything while saying nothing,
And the delegates depart without
Seeing that the Ferocious Love that answers has gone
Unrecognized and unnoticed.  Why? 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

On Voting

It's amazing to me that it has been since August 7 that I posted anything.  School has started, which means the I'm-Preoccupied-With-All-Things-School meter has been firmly pegged at the high end for several weeks now, and I haven't gotten back to this project -- though I am carrying around in my head some things I'd like to explore.

Where to start again?  Perhaps addressing a question I was asked not too long ago: "What do you say to someone who says their vote doesn't matter?" In addition to the question, I'm also bothered by a certain political sign on a lawn in my neighborhood -- not because of the sign itself, but because I know the folks who have posted it, and  I fear they haven't considered some important things. (Of course, they may just disagree with me -- isn't that a great thing about freedom?)  So I've been thinking about these things for a few days now, and thought I'd get back into the swing of things by jotting (can one "jot" on a computer?) down some of those thoughts...

Historically, voting is a very rare privilege, so I approach the subject with something almost like reverence - -I get to live in one of the relatively few cultures in history in which ordinary people like me can have at least some say in selecting the people who rule us. (Or in more democratic parlance, "serve as our leaders.") So my first thought is that every vote matters simply as a statement of privilege -- of the amazing ability to have a voice, even if it is a small one.

Beyond that, though, I think some important principles apply and are worth the consideration of everyone who brings to the privilege of voting  any degree of sobriety:

1) The Candidate. I believe that from a Biblical perspective, Being is more highly regarded than Doing.  Who is the candidate?  What values form the core of their being, and the way they see the world?  And out of that framework, how likely are they then to support and uphold Biblically important values?  Will they lobby for and uphold elements of our country or community that are healthy and good?  Will they seek to change elements in our culture or society or world that are unhealthy and destructive?  How does the candidate personally measure what is good and what is evil? Finally (and this is where Doing comes in), does the candidate's general life and actions match his words?  A vote for a person who demonstrates integrity and who upholds foundational values and perspectives could never be wasted, even if they don't win -- see below...

2) The Party.  Unfortunately (to my mind), most candidates come associated with a party, and most will often in the end vote for or in other ways support their party's agenda.  So some of the same questions from above apply:  What does the track record of the party look like?  What do party members typically support and lobby for?  What is the party affiliation of those in the news who uphold the values you believe in?  What is the party affiliation of those in the news who typically oppose those values?  Unless the candidate is an Independent, party affiliation may be an important reason to reevaluate voting for a particular candidate, because of the likelihood of the candidate using her influence to further party objectives.

3) The Voter.  The questions I've raised regarding the candidate and the party assume some important things on the part of the voter.  When it comes to an election, what are Biblically important values? What is good, and what is evil? The Scripture says that God values doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with Him. (Micah 6:8)  How are we to apply justice and mercy in the public square when dealing with modern issues? For one example, the Bible indicates throughout that economic gain belongs to the person who worked for it -- how does that idea get applied with wisdom in the modern U.S.?  The point here is not to supply many specifics (that would probably be many additional articles), but to raise the question for all of us voters -- have we really thought about how the candidate or the party sees the world and forms opinions and judgments about it, and do we agree with that vision and believe that it is the right vision? Or do we at least conclude that of the options available to us, this one or that is the best or the least bad? And from a Christian perspective, have we subjected that vision and our vision to the words of Scripture to see whether they line up with Biblical norms?

4) Success.  If success in voting is that "my" candidate wins, then there are certainly elections in which it is a waste of time to vote.  But I think that is far too shallow a measure of success.  We can vote and let our voice be heard for a number of reasons that are all valuable:
  • Voting is (as I expressed above) a privilege in and of itself. It seems to me that to not vote is to undermine the value of the democratic system, to be apathetic, to refuse to be heard, to refuse to come to a conclusion, to refuse to exercise a stewardship that God has given to all who live in free countries. I believe that just for these reasons, one should vote, and vote intelligently.
  • From direct democracies to federal republics, the size and strength of the opposition is important. We all have to live together - we all have to build a society that will contribute toward a sustainable, peaceful, productive way of life. (Or we can descend into anarchy -- it has certainly happened before.) My candidate or your candidate or party may not win, but the winning person or group will be checked and held in balance by a significant minority position.  Significant opposition groups can create compromise, mitigate the effects of bad legislation, ensure healthy loopholes or exceptions, and at the very least demand debate. This healthy give and take requires that people work together to try to create something sustainable.  After all, the fundamental element missing in a dictatorship is meaningful opposition. Political power is checked and called to account by opposition - so vote even if you think your position is the minority one: at the very least, you can be part of creating and maintaining meaningful opposition.
  • Surprises happen.  Many times people have voted for what they assumed was a minority position only to find that many of their neighbors felt the same way -- and have ended up winning the day.  Some issues in our community have been settled in recent years by literally just a few votes.  Five or six more people voting might have changed the outcome.  So it seems unwise to assume what will happen, and better to exercise the privilege of voting. 
  • Personal benefit.  The effort to pay attention, understand the issues, and try to reach conclusions is at the very least good for our minds and can help us develop and understand our own position and values.  Even if in the end you felt your vote didn't "count," if you put some thought into it and tried to engage, exercise your reason, and understand how your values intersect with the larger community and culture, you are coming out ahead.

We often have candidates who have very different visions of what the world should look like, and of how people should live and be governed.  We often have issues on our ballots that are important for shaping our culture either for good or the other way around. As we hear the candidates speak, and as we examine these issues, are we filtering the ideas through a Biblical framework?  When we don't know what the Biblical framework is, are we seeking to find out?  When the issue seems to be concerning a subject to which the Bible does not speak, are we checking to be sure it doesn't? Are we then looking for general Biblical principles that might still apply? 

And in the end, are we then voting for the candidate, or the party, or the issue that to the best of our understanding will promote, pursue, protect, and otherwise work for those principles and values?  Finally, will we vote as an act of stewardship, leaving the results to the God who is sovereign over the affairs of men, and trusting that we don't have to "win" to win?  After all, remember this:

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning?... He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than He blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away...  "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One...                                                                                                   Isaiah 40:21-25

I encourage you to engage, vote, make your voice heard. I don't think there is such a thing as a vote that doesn't count.

When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.  Proverbs 29:2

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dear Senator

Today I received Senator Mark Udall’s newsletter in my email.  His blog for the day was entitled, “The Wrong Time to Tax the Middle Class.”  (You can read his blog here: http://www.markudall.senate.gov/?p=home .) I tend to agree with that idea, but not with a number of the ideas he put forth in his blog – or, rather, the number of important elements about the economy he did not mention at all.  So, I wrote him a letter, which  I’m reprinting here.  I’ve been thinking about how to say some constructive things about our current economic situation and what I would like to see from our leaders, and perhaps this is a good way to start that train of thought.  Eventually I want to return to the “life as a story” theme, but for now, let’s take a “short cut” through the political and economic scenery…

Dear Senator Udall,

First let me say I enjoyed your blog, "Rising Together from a Summer of Heartache" -- well said.  However, I cannot say the same about your recent blog, "The Wrong Time to Tax the Middle Class."  I'm just hoping you are pandering for votes, or that you can explain how you believe that an economy can be grown "from the middle out."  I'm aware of no such economic theory. Economies, as I am sure you actually know, grow when capital, labor, natural resources, and information are efficiently allocated by a free market to produce goods and services that people freely and genuinely want.  In order for capital to be allocated, there has to be capital, which means two things:  1) the government can't take it all, and 2) people who have it (aka "The Wealthy") have to be free to use it.  The "middle", whose support you are currently trumpeting, have relatively little capital to allocate, and thus cannot be a major growth engine by themselves. Perhaps you think I am wealthy, and just defending my own status - but such is not the case.  I'm firmly lower middle class, and I am certainly aware that I have no ability inherent in my personal finances to help rebuild the economy.

So here's my plea: you are correct that the economy is a top priority for Congress. But you do not address an important fundamental issue: you all in Congress spend bucketfuls more of our money than you take in. That practice must stop. You must find ways to immediately balance the federal budget and gracefully communicate those painful choices to the American people.  You must be honest about cuts in spending that have to be made.  And you must support allowing people with capital the freedom to allocate it as the market indicates.  This means a reduction in corporate income tax, and a reduction (or holding the line) in taxes for the wealthy.  Failure to be courageous and honest will mean that the US will become like Greece, whose leaders are still too cowardly to boldly tell the Greek people that their welfare, nanny state must end.

Our president is arguing in a television commercial right now that this "top down" approach is "how we got into this mess in the first place."  The trouble is, that is both untrue and misleading. First of all, the mess was caused, and continues to be largely continued, by well-intended but misplaced actions by the Federal Government that have interfered with the "invisible hand" of the free market and have caused untold economic pain for millions.  I refer to the extension of housing loans to those unable to pay (a specifically Democratic plan, by the way, that contributed in huge measure to the housing crisis) and to recent monetary policy, "stimulus" bailouts, tax incentives for technology unable to hold its own in the free market, over-regulation of business large and small, and on and on. 

Secondly, our president's claim is misleading because "top down" is a fundamental element of growing a healthy economy. If the "wealthy" don't invest, who will? The poor cannot do it, and the middle class is primarily limited to contributing through honest, diligent labor, smaller-scale saving, and consumer spending.  The government cannot do it, because  fundamentally government is a wealth consumer, not a wealth creator. It is the "top" who have the capital needed (or should have it, if the government leaves them alone) to invest in new ideas, new technology, and new hiring. 

So your article might sound appealing to members of the middle class who are only interested in their own financial circumstances.  I like the idea of a tax cut as much as anybody!  But those of us who are interested in the economy as a whole (and that should be everyone) are hoping to see much bolder, freedom-oriented leadership on economic matters.  

Balance the budget. Stop talking about it and just get it done.  Spread it over a few years, so that the pain can be somewhat mitigated.  But be honest with your voters: we do not have the means to pay for all our current wants, and as a nation we must do the same as individual families do: make challenging choices and live within our means. Be honest with your voters about "the wealthy" too -- it is in everyone's best interest to have a large, thriving upper class. Even though you are yourself a member of that class, do not be shy about defending it.  Protect everyone's freedom (NOT entitlement) to strive for wealth, and everyone's freedom to use their wealth to try to grow more wealth, and the economy will grow. Wealth creation is a virtue, not a vice.

Reduce regulation.  Give businesses more freedom. Pay down the debt. Tell people the truth.  Be bold.  And be courageous enough to put your own job as Senator on the line.

Tax cuts for the middle class will not fix the economy unless significant action is taken in other areas as well, and I think you know that. Don't tell us what you think we want to hear, and don't try to give us what you think we want to have.  Speak of what we need to hear, and do what will lead toward strength and growth in the long run.  We're headed for economic disaster if things do not change soon.  I'm looking for elected leaders who will stop telling only part of the story, stop trying to get me to vote for them, and just help get things fixed.  Are you one of them?


Erik Ritschard
Buena Vista, Colorado