I had to wind down after NaNoWriMo and finish my writing for my critiquing group. If I do NaNoWriMo again, I want to be a little more organized about where I'm going with the novel I'm writing. Nonetheless, it was a good experience.
On Sunday, I went HTing with a new companion, a guy I think is a little younger than me, but not much if at all. He's a fellow I've known since 1985. Anyway, he was just released from serving in a bishopric somewhere else. He might have even been the bishop for all I know, but I'm not sure about that. He picked me up at 1 PM. We had discussed going the week before, but things hadn't worked out then so that the people we were going to visit could be home when we could come, so we needed to go right away because the month was ending Monday.
I made the arrangements. One family said they could see us at 2 PM --- they were eating dinner at 1 PM. One gentleman --- a guy who is recently divorced and is now single --- said he could see us at 1 PM. He wanted us to come later, but I told him we couldn't. (I could, but my new companion had a trip he needed to take in the afternoon into the evening) So the single brother agreed to 1 PM. I called my new companion, and told him the times and the order. He said he'd pick me up at one o'clock. I thought, okay, we'll go see the guy, then we'll have time to take a break, and we'll go see the other family at 2. As it turned out, the visit to the guy --- the single brother --- turned out lasting until 2:15 PM.
It's the visit to the single brother I want to talk about. I found it unique and odd.
I had been assigned the single brother a year or two before when I had had a different companion, a young man who was on the verge of going on a mission. Back then, the single brother had been married, and he had had a stepson about a priest's age. Not long after that, though, I was reassigned to another family. Another man in the bishopric of our ward had taken over HTing that particular family.
The divorce had followed after I had been reassigned, and not long after the divorce, the brother had been told by his doctor that he needed bypass surgery, that he was only getting like a ten percent flow of what was normal. He had the bypass operation, and the medical personnel had had trouble getting him to come out of the anesthesia and, from what I understand, there was some question whether he would pull through or not. But he did, and when he did, he made significant progress in recuperating from five-bypass surgery.
One other problem relative to the gentleman we were visiting involved unemployment. He had moved to Utah from California. I don't know all the details, but he had apparently had a significant life there, including having had three children who are now grown and still live there. These kids, I take it, relate back to still another marriage, perhaps, and, if I'm correct, the boy who was a priest I alluded to earlier was a stepson, a son of his more recent wife's and not a biological son of him.
In any event, in California this man had worked in an industry that required his skills as a salesman, and he had done it regularly. It paid fairly well, and I take it that he didn't have any problem with unemployment there. However, when he moved to Utah, and I don't know how his other marriage fits into his move to Utah for sure, he had been unable to find steady work in the same occupation. In fact, he had had difficulty maintaining employment here at all. Indeed, it might have been the precipitating problem relative to his more recent divorce, but that's speculation. And he wasn't and hadn't been employed at all since his debilitating bypass surgery, which left him in debt for medical expenses approaching $200K.
So, anyway, my new companion picked me up and on the way to the appointment I gave him some of this background. We got there, we rang the doorbell, and we were welcomed into the house. So it'd been a long time, perhaps a year or two, since I'd been there --- other than the fact that during his recuperation I had delivered a meal to him from our family, but he had been in the garage that day, and I had just handed him the meal and he had taken it inside. But today I noticed how unkempt the place was: the floor was littered and dirty: it didn't look like the carpet had been vacuumed or the floor swept for a long time. There was dust on everything. No problem, I think --- not to me anyway, he'd been through a lot with his recuperation and everything and was going through still more, because he couldn't find employment.
Anyway, we spent maybe 10 to 15 minutes covering this same background territory and information with him, including his current situation involving unemployment. My new companion was asking him all about it, and he was answering him. Then my new companion gave him a two or three minutes message out of the Ensign on how the church was building temples and how much closer they are to most members now than ever before, facilitating visits.
So we're into the visit say twenty minutes. In my opinion, it would have been a good time to say "What can we do to help out?" and then to have concluded in the conventional way with prayer. However, the visit continued on for another fifty-five minutes.
It was at about that time that my new companion asked both of us a question. The question was, "What do you think about what's happening in the United States?" This question wasn't totally out of the blue, because just before it, I believe, or sometime in the preceding discussion the single brother had complained that the current President of the United States was not accomplishing anything except for getting the country further and further into debt.
Anyway, my companion hadn't posed his question rhetorically. He really wanted an answer, first, from the single brother. And then he wanted me to answer it, also. So, the single brother gave him his answer, which was a complete trashing of President Obama, including the familiar diatribe on how the President wasn't a citizen and therefore shouldn't be serving the country.
Then it was my turn to answer. I wanted to be somewhat circumspect and careful, yet honest. I've never found political discussions in such settings that helpful or inspiring, probably because I am about a million times more conservative than most LDS people even though in the scheme of things I am quite conservative. I said I had been disappointed that the laws on the books hadn't been and possibly weren't being funded and enforced, or that they had been weakened and that combined with the lack of funding and enforcement had led to the financial crisis the nation had experienced and was facing, including the widespread unemployment, the foreclosures on so many peoples' homes, and the closing of so many companies. I told about a friend who had worked for a local company involved in the space shuttle for thirty years who had been laid off. I said, I thought there had been a deterioration of citizens' willingness to comply with laws. I gave as an example how crazily people were driving on the highways and roads.
There was some discussion about traffic relative to California versus Utah, with the single brother admitting one of the reasons he had moved to Utah was because of the congested traffic of California. I did note that I thought California drivers were more sophisticated and courteous than Utah drivers.
Anyway, in response to our answers to my new companion's question about the United States, my new companion told an anecdote. He said he had been in a store up by Willard, the Smith and Edwards store, where he had observed, back by the guns and ammunition, I think he said, an area set aside for, as I understand it, political discourse and information. He said they were offering there for just one dollar a DVD with the title "Pretext for the North American Union".
He then went on to say how corrupt individuals in the U.S. government were, including the current administration, in particular, the past administration --- which kind of surprised me--- and just about everybody connected with politics, complaining that there was an agenda to do away with the United States and create the North American Union. He cited the porous southern border, a conspiracy to register guns --- likening it to Hitler, the trade agreements, including talking about a trans-north and south highway, all of which was intended to lead to one world government.
This new companion then told us of bishops of the church who were purchasing guns and ammunition in astronomical proportions. He went on to inform us that he had a concealed weapons permit and that most of the time he was carrying a weapon. He and the single brother went on to trash the current administration and congress. He said he hadn't been able to sleep the past few nights worrying about it.
He asked if we had weapons. The single brother had a shotgun, I think. I said I didn't and told him about the book I'd read of the father with the troubled teenager who had become worried and armed himself and then shot his son dead when his son started after him with a knife. I told him I was a pacifist.
Anyway, eventually, after an hour and a quarter, we prayed and said goodbye. Out in the new companion's truck, he gave me a copy of the DVD.
Since then, I emailed the two brothers:
I've thought about you both today in this bleak economy and these trying times. Especially you, [the single brother], with all the problems that you face. I'll continue to pray for you to find solutions.
A college professor friend of mine ( http://faculty.weber.edu/eswedin/index.html ), a member of the church whose opinion I respect, recommended to always use http://www.snopes.com/ to check out stories to see what, if anything, it might say. Like everything, we should always explore all sides of every story and take our concerns to the Lord. I recommend searching "Obama citizenship" and "North American Union" in the snopes search box.
My best to both of you,
The single brother's email came back undeliverable. Apparently, I don't have his correct email address. I haven't heard back from my new companion yet. I wonder what he'd do if he knew I support SSM marriage? As a pacifist, I wouldn't think he'd see me as much of a threat. After all, he's packing. Sure makes me feel safer being with him when we go HTing, though. Not! LOL