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What do we do with diligence?

Posted on by jtcopeiv

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: ‘In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, “Grant me justice against my adversary.” ‘For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!”’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?’


Do we pray with diligence?  Do we pray carefully and consistently?  For that matter do we do anything in our lives with consistency?  Our culture is so wrapped up in immediate gratification we scarcely see diligence and determination. Those few who possess that trait often possess it primarily for the sake of achieving wealth or fame or prizes. But there are some, hopefully some in your life, which do possess diligence toward God and prayer. Find those people and learn from them. See how hard they work and how consistently they search for and pray to God and Jesus.


We must not only find good examples, but we must look into your own lives and see what we do with diligence.  Are we consistently on social media?  Do we always find the hour or thirty minutes to watch that TV show at night?  Do we workout each day?  How consistently do spend time with or serve God?  Do we show love to our spouse day in and day out?  Do we spend time with our children?


I am afraid we won’t like the answers to many of these questions.  We may well find that we are extremely consistent in doing things that don’t really matter too much in the grand scheme and much more irregular in carving out time each day to do the things that really do matter, like prayer, or quality time with our spouse.  It is all about actions, folks. Words can give an indication of character, but they mean nothing without the actions, the careful and persistent actions, to back them up eventually. — JT Cope IV

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What is the Point of Education?

Posted on by jtcopeiv

What is the point of education?  What was it, and what has it become?  This obviously is a much larger topic than can be covered in a single journal entry, but I would like to offer some thoughts based upon my extremely brief teaching career – a graduate assistant for a semester at college, a semester of physical geology at community college, and now right at a year of high school biology.


Is the point of education, particularly public high school education to make scholars of boys and girls?   Is it to prepare as many people as possible to be engineers?  Lawyers?  Doctors?  Teachers?  Any profession in particular?  Is it to prepare students to move on to college, or to get a job?  If every single child in every single high school went on to college and graduated from college; what would the result be?  Would the nation be better off if every single citizen had a degree in business, or mathematics, or physics, or sociology?  Perhaps history or language would indeed improve a nation.  What if every single student left high school to get a job, and none went on to college?


Is education, or should it be, defined by the scores of tests that students receive; by how much information, in as broad a spectrum of topics as possible, we as a country can cram into our youth?  As President Roosevelt said, “To educate a person in the mind but not in morals is to educate a menace to society.”  This is apparent through then annuls of history.  Many a man and woman with brilliant mind full of knowledge have caused far more harm to their country than help.  The names of Stalin, Mao, Hitler, and dozens of others come to mind here.  They were unarguably intelligent and had a great deal of understanding and knowledge, but they also perpetrated actions with little to no morality apparent.  These names may well be some of the most infamous in history, but the same truth applies to the smallest most seemingly insignificant communities in a nation as well.  Therefore the point of education cannot simply be to stuff as many pages and volumes worth of information into a student’s mind as possible.  For if the student has no idea how to implement the knowledge they will be more of a detriment to society than a help.  So, again, what is the point of educating a person?


As President Jefferson commented in a letter two centuries ago we must, “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people, [to] enable them to see that it is [in] their interest to preserve peace and order.”  President Jefferson also noted that, “… it requires no very high degree of education to convince them of this [self-interest],” and that we must do this for, “They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”  So, from one past President comes the rule that education serves to preserve liberty.  But how can simple education preserve liberty?  We can teach a child all there is to know about genetic drift, gene flow, sedimentation, differentiation, diffraction and deflection, sine and cosine, and a dozen other topics without them having even the slightest clue about how to preserve liberty.  We must dig a little deeper.


The answer is not in the material we teach alone, but in how we teach the children to use that material.  A look at some quotes from men who gave much to their nation and to humanity in general is worthwhile:



  • “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
    ― Aristotle


  • “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”
    ― S. Lewis


We must then educate children with the aim of providing the students with the means to use that knowledge in a moral manner.  And this morality must be one that spans the centuries and generations, not one that evolves from one generation to the next or one decade to the next.  The content of the education may change, will change, over time such as discovering gravity or relativity, but the morality, particularly the source of that morality, imparted into a nation’s youth must not change or it is no morality at all.  – JT Cope IV



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What came first … the marriage, or the children?

Posted on by jtcopeiv

Unlike trying to answer the question of whether the chicken or the egg came first, the question of what came first, and what should still come first, between a couple’s marriage and their children actually has an answer.  Doesn’t it?  Well, in theory the marriage always comes before the children.  Now that obviously isn’t true in the real world, but even when circumstances occur in a different order the question is still imperative.  What comes first, both at the beginning of a marriage and throughout?  In essence, what is most important?


If priorities dictate actions and you look at our society as a whole today, would you argue that the marriage or the children come first?  What takes up the most “free” time in our family’s lives?  What do we spend most of our disposable income on?  What is the daily routine planned around?  Are decisions made with the marriage foremost in a couples mind, or do the children hold that position?  At night after a day of work, be it outside the home or in, who dictates the schedule?  How many nights a week do children’s functions control the schedule versus how many nights a week does the marriage control it?  When conversations are going on between husband and wife, do they immediately stop if a child has a question, or must children wait until their parents are through speaking?  This may seem a long list, but the list certainly is even longer.  The bottom line is, what is the priority in the home; is it the marriage or is it the children; and what does either choice foretell about the future of the family, couple, and even the country?


Well, let’s examine briefly what the children coming first looks like.  When the child wants to be involved in something then the parents must shift finances, time and energy away from other possible activities and toward what the child desires to be involved in.  Dinner takes a second seat to baseball practice.  Afternoon work schedules are lengthened or cut short in preparation or participation of the parents in ensuring their child gets to art lessons.  Saturday’s, and perhaps even Friday nights are filled with preparation for, traveling too, and participation in softball, basketball or tennis tournaments.  And depending on the event, Sunday’s are also given over to watching the child’s activities.


Now, when the marriage comes first, life works out a bit differently.  Events that the child wants to be involved in are accepted or rejected based upon whether the event fits into the couple’s schedule.  This certainly can be abused to the point of not allowing a child to be involved in anything, or having the time to spend on a parent’s phone or computer supersede the child’s involvement in softball or violin lessons.  The evening routine for the family though does not take a continuous second seat to the child’s wishes.  Dinner is still served around the dining room table more often than not.  Getting off work early or late is done in preparation for taking your wife out for a date or for taking the family on vacation.  Saturday’s are filled with working together as a family, working out together with your husband, or sitting and watching the sun set from the back porch.  Sunday’s are still spent in a chair or a pew listening to a man teach or discuss the life of a Man who cares deeply about every member of the family.


Perhaps this seems inconsequential, or perhaps this seems like not that difficult a choice.  Either way, what do these choices tell about the future of the children, the family, the couple, and the country?  On the one hand you end up with children who grow up assuming that they matter more than any adult, and therefore when they become adults, more than anyone else.  For if a child sees their own interests supersede that of their parents, what other adult can possible hope to convince them of making someone or something else more important than themselves?  The family becomes merely a conduit for delivering the child to their desired activities or destinations.  Once the child can attain those desired activities or destinations on their own, what need do they have for the family?  The couple, the marriage, becomes little more than a business partnership with one spouse coordinating the logistical moves and another financing those logistical moves.  And when the packages needing that logistical support leave the family warehouse, what need do the business partners have for each other.  Even if they acknowledge the need for each other, they must attempt to develop a new relationship at the middle to end of their lifetime, and as is so often quoted, “it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks.”  The country falls here somewhere now, and to what end can a country hope to come to when the cornerstone of their society has become not a couple committed to each other for life, stable and dependable, supporting and assuring, but a child certain only of their own importance and the need for the world to bend to their desires and wishes immediately upon the announcement (and discovery) of those wishes?


On the other hand, when the marriage comes first, you end up with children who grow up knowing that their parents take center stage in their life, and with the knowledge and desire to seek out a partner of their own who will hold them and their relationship in that same esteem.  You end up with children who understand that there are in fact other people who have individuals in their life who matter more than they do to them.  By default the child also learns to cherish above all others the person who decides that they are that person who matters most to them.  You end up with children who understand that at times the needs of their spouse are best met by following the needs of the country, that their country has legitimate claim to their allegiance and devotion.  And that that allegiance and devotion will serve those they love most.  This again can be abused by ignoring the needs of spouse or family at all times for the service or “betterment” of the country.  You also end up with marriages that survive the loss or departure through maturity of their children.  Marriages where the adults do continue to cherish and hold on to each other above all others and for the entirety of their mortal lives.


In the end, when children claim the most important position in families, above marriages, you end up with children who place their own importance above that of parents, family, and country.  You end up with couples that leave, ignore, or dysfunctionally interact with each other after their children have left the house, and you end up with a country whose stability is reduced and resources are squandered trying to repair at least emotional if not physical damage to her citizens.  Opposite of that, when marriages retain the position of most important position in families, above children, you end up with children who are assured of the stability of their family and parents and are thus able to better prepare for and lead their own lives, contributing more to their own spouse, their children, and their country.

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What is the role of the citizen?

Posted on by jtcopeiv

As a citizen, what is our job?  What is our goal?  What do we strive for in ourselves and others as it regards the place we live?  Do we focus on what we get out of or can take away from that place, or do we focus on what we can add to that place?  Does it even matter?  This is, as with so many others written about here, a huge topic.  With that in mind let us focus on just on the general question of what is a citizen’s role in the success or failure of their nation.


In any scenario in life, if you have to pick from a group, you want that group to be of the highest quality possible, because then no matter what you pick, it will be good, or at least better.  For example, if you had a bushel of apples and you had to pick one, it would be best if the bushel was mostly full of ripe firm apples as opposed to being mostly full of mushy rotten ones.  As the old saying goes, a chain is only as strong as the weakest link.  Along this same line of thinking, all of the leaders of a nation come from the population of that country.  Therefore the better the population, the more integrity and character and honesty that population has, the better the leaders of that nation will be.  The reverse is also true, the more people of low character, integrity, more prone to lying, cheating, and stealing there are, the more likely their leaders are to be of the same quality.


President Theodore Roosevelt summed it up nicely.  “In the long run, success or failure will be conditioned upon the way in which the average man, the average women, does his or her duty, first in the ordinary, every-day affairs of life, and next in those great occasional cries which call for heroic virtues. The average citizen must be a good citizen if our republics are to succeed. The stream will not permanently rise higher than the main source; and the main source of national power and national greatness is found in the average citizenship of the nation.”


Thus, the role of the citizen is to make themselves the most honest, of the highest character and integrity, they can.  This will in turn help to pull many up with them, just as people of low character, honesty and integrity tend to draw people down with them.  It is important to note that academic or athletic achievement in and of themselves do not make the list.  For knowledge or ability without the wisdom or character to use it well and for good purpose are catastrophic.  Then you end up with individuals (a laundry list of whom dot the pages of history) who have great talent, but who use it to tear down and destroy a society in place of building it up and making it more secure.


This role must be practiced by each new generation of citizens too.  If any generation assumes security, achievement, or quality is permanent and chooses to sit on their laurels, or even the laurels of those who have come before them, decline will come, that prosperity and abundance will sprout wings and fly away.  Without the citizen the nation cannot exist.  Without a moral and righteous citizen a nation will dissolve from within.  This applies to nation, state, county, large and small town as well.  Without morality and integrity even the most isolated and smallest of communities will become deceptive and destructive.  And lest you think you cannot make a difference, a “few good men” can monumentally shift the trajectory of a town, a state, a nation, or even the world.  The role of the citizen should be to become one of those few, good men.  – JT Cope IV


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What are your priorities?

Posted on by jtcopeiv

What priorities does a person have?  How can you look at someone, at yourself, and tell what priorities they have.  How can you tell if what they espouse is actually what they believe?  This seems like a simple enough question personally.  Surely a person knows what their own priorities are; right?  Surely we can look inside ourselves and know what is important to us.


Perhaps, but what does having a priority even mean?  Is it what we think about most?  Is it what we spend the most time or money on?  Is it is a bullet on a list that we write at the beginning of each year as a resolution?  Webster’s claims a priority is something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives, or to put it another way, a priority is something that is given more importance than other things.  So, if we take that a step further, having a priority means giving our attention to something before the alternatives that are competing for our attention.


If that is the definition, then in theory we should be able to look at what we spend time on (and perhaps money since we spend time to make money) and that should match what we “say” our priorities are.  Does it?  If you wrote down a list of your top five priorities, and then made a list of the top five time consuming activities of your day to day life, do they match?  It is important to clarify that some things by default take more time, or money than others.  For example, our body must get a certain amount of sleep, usually 6-9 hours for most adults.  And we would be hard pressed to find a common full-time job that would allow us to work for an average of less than eight hours a day.  Mortgages take a huge chunk of our income, so do cars, and so do taxes these days, at least for most of us, but that is a topic for another day.


So what time and money in particular are we talking about?  Our free time.  “Ha!  What free time and money?!”  That is the thought going thru many a head right now, but we do have it.  For those few of you out there who really do not have any spare time or money, that is a different conversation.  For the vast majority of us though, we have time each day, which is not consumed by sleeping or eating, or necessary work.  I say necessary here because there is very much something as working too much, working more that we actually have too.  For most of us, we do have money that is not consumed by car loans or mortgages or credit card debt.  We have the time that we spend on reading books, watching tv, movies, or Netflix, texting or talking on the phone, working out, posting on Facebook, Instagram, snapchat, Youtube, or Goodreads.  We have the time (and money) we spend going fishing, hunting, shopping, golfing, swimming, hiking, and so many other things.  We have all of this “free” time.  The question is, do we spend our free time and money on our claimed priorities?  Do we spend it on the things we say are most important to us, or do we spend it on the competing alternatives?


Make a list.  Just pick your top five to ten.  It won’t take long.  See what matches and what doesn’t.  Do the things claimed as priorities align with the actions, the time and money spent?  Making priorities, priorities may not be the easiest thing in the world, but I’ll leave you with a question which may put the need to do so in a bit of perspective, “What would your eighty year old self wish that you were spending time and money on now?”  —  JT Cope IV



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Why do we have Easter?

Posted on by jtcopeiv

Do we have Easter for the Easter egg hunts?  Is it for all the chocolate bunnies or yellow and pink marshmallow peeps?  Is it just a good excuse for a long weekend away from work and school?  Why do we have Easter as a holiday?  The question is not why we celebrate Easter, for that could lead to any number of answers.  Fundamentally, though, why does Easter exist as a holiday?  What happened to make this candied (somehow most of two family size bags of Robin Eggs have vanished in my house – I’m blaming the attic gremlins), bunny hopping, egg hunting, and early rising day possible?


Easter offers us a modern case study in pretense.  Pretense because while you can hear almost anyone these days say that we care about those who are poor, who are outcasts, who are different, the neediest among us, that we honor those who serve others, who are honest and show integrity, and who give their lives for even those who despise them, our actions and to a lesser extent the results of those actions prove otherwise.  The results of our actions are to a lesser extent because each person still retains the ability to act of their own accord regardless of how others treat them.  Yet we must hold a lion’s share of the responsibility for it is we who honor those who lie, cheat and steal.  We honor the richest and most famous among us by giving our time and attention and money to their efforts.  We honor those who dishonor people who have given their lives in service of others, and we ourselves degrade those who choose to serve.  In essence we treat other people exactly the opposite of the way we would like them to treat us were the roles reversed.    Yet this holiday revolves around a man who cared for the widow and the orphan and who treated his fellow man better than any has done before or since.


So no, the reason we have Easter to celebrate is not chocolate, bunny rabbits, egg hunts, or even presents.  The reason we have Easter is due to a materialistically poor man, an outcast, who spoke and stayed with both the rich and the poor, who confounded and angered those in political power, who rode on donkeys, who gave his life for even those who hated him, and who could have forced every other person in the world to serve him.  This man was soft spoken, often but not always.  He was a teacher and a healer, both in the medical and spiritual sense.  He served literally every single person he came into contact with, and even those he did not.  His actions lined up with his words, and his words were in keeping with his character, a very rare combination of traits.


At some point a couple thousand years ago, this man, for man he was, was arrested.  He was questioned.  He was interrogated.  He was mocked and flogged, that’s a fancy word for beaten really badly.  And in the end he was nailed to a piece of wood much the same way I am nailing shiplap up to the walls of the house we are building.  This man’s death though horrific brought with it hope for anyone who would accept the hand he stretched out to them.  His death was the end of somethings but the beginning of many things, and it alone is the reason that we have Easter to celebrate.


A necessary follow on question may be does it matter if we celebrate Easter for the correct reasons?  Should it matter why we celebrate a holiday as long as it is celebrated?  Have we gotten to the point where the holiday itself, any holiday for that matter, is more about the benefits enjoyed during the holiday than about the benefits enjoyed because of the holiday?  Should it matter whether a man dressed up in a cotton, colored bunny suit carrying a basket of plastic eggs with chocolate inside to give to children on his lap is celebrated over a man in worn clothing, riding a donkey, and offering healing and redemption from hurts of the soul and body?


In the end, yes it does matter why we celebrate a holiday.  For if we celebrate a holiday for the wrong reasons we miss both the point of the holiday, the opportunity to teach our children, and the ability to truly appreciate the holiday as anything more than any other weekend day.  And although the question of why we celebrate Easter may have many answers, the fundamental question of why we have Easter to celebrate has only one answer.  It is a man covered in dust, who walked, and laughed, and cried his way through life.  A man who still to this day stretches out his hand to anyone who will take it.   — JT Cope IV

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Principled Writing

Posted on by jtcopeiv
What is the point of writing?  Is it to entertain?  Is it simply to let the world know your thoughts?  Why do we write (or direct, or sing, or act for that matter)?  And why should we do these things?  Or is that the same question?
These thoughts have bounced around in my head off and on for many years, but have become particularly persistent in recent months and weeks, to the point where I can’t even hear all the other voices in my head … yes there are quite a few.  The subject comes up most often where my children are concerned.  What do we let them watch on TV; what movies are ok and which ones are not?  What books do we get for them, or should we just be glad they are reading anything?  The TV and movie question opens a whole other Pandora’s Box, and we can discuss that at a later date.  For now I would like to focus on writing, particularly books and articles written for children, but really any format of written word for any age group.  
So, what is the point of writing?  It certainly is to entertain.  No one wants to write, or read, something that is not enjoyable.  Hopefully it is well written also, written well in the sense of correct use of language.  But should entertaining be our main goal; should it even be our second or third goal?  What other goals should we have in producing something with which to share with our youth?  To educate?  This seems like a legitimate and worthy goal.  Here again though, should it be our main goal?  What about to “culture” our children, to introduce them to worlds and experiences different from their own?  Again, within a certain scope this is a well-placed goal.  I say within a certain scope, because there are a number of experiences we do not want to introduce our children too.  I cannot imagine that firsthand detailed reports from a battle front would make good bedtime reading material for a nine year old.  
None of these though fits the bill.  No, I would argue that the main purpose of writing, the first priority, for any author in any medium is none of these.  It absolutely has not been in the past, at least not across the board.  Yes, I know the past is old and dusty and unenlightened.  But every once in a while, we can learn something from what has gone on before us.  Every once in a while “the way things used to be” is not bad or worse.  Every once in a while some people other than the current generation “got things right”, and indeed better, than we do.  I argue this is the case with the current condition of our written word, in particular for the youngest members of our society.  
What then is this main concern, this first priority, of writing?  It is to develop and strengthen the character of the reader.  To combine a couple of definitions here, character in the sense of the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual, those principles and motives that drive the life.   Character is what drives a person, what truly identifies them, and through them their community and their country.  Without character a man crumbles, but a story without character is even worse for by it many men may crumble.  
The main goal of an author should be to develop the quality of their reader’s character, not to develop their characters quality.  This concept of “a moral to the story” needs remembering.  It needs remembering for all the cliché and outdated reasons that we seem to scoff at today, because garbage in is garbage out, because what you read sticks with you, and most importantly because “you are what you read.”  — JT Cope IV
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Independence Day

Posted on by smartauthorsites

4 July 2017

Happy Independence Day, America!

Wanted to share a photo with y’all, and of course the annual posting of the Declaration of Independence.


The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:

Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton


John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:

Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery


Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:

William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:

Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark


Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross


Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean


Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton


George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:

William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:

Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton


Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

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Happy 241st birthday to our beloved Corps!

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The United States Marine Corps is one of the greatest organizations in the world! The people who serve in it are some of the best we have to offer in this country. If you know a Marine today, tell them happy birthday please.  Here are a couple of my favorite quotes about the Marines:

“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they have made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don’t have that problem.” – President Ronald Reagan

“The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!” – First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

Hope y’all have an outstanding day!

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Voting, Free Books, and Great Pictures (Weekly Roundup)

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Happy Monday folks!  Hope y’all’s week is off to a great start.  Lovely fall weather here. Couple notes before we get started on all the kind people and their photos and posts of Countryside.

First, if you live in the US, please, please go vote on November 8th!  It’s so important; I can’t stress that enough.  No matter what you think, or which candidate you are voting for, please take some time and go vote.  There are a lot of people who have paid a steep price so that you can exercise your conscious.  Thanks very much!


Second, and much, much less important is that “Countryside: The Book of the Wise” will be FREE on Amazon Kindle from November 22-26th next week!!!  If you are an eBook lover, don’t miss your chance; it’s normally $3.99.


Pictures and Words

Finally, here are some of the great photos of Countryside from last week.  If you have a chance to check out these accounts please do.

Tea @deadlywendyhadley


J.M. @jmstorinbooks


Mags @staybookish


Anna @throne_of_book




Shelly @vixenreads






Thanks so much to all of you who are helping to spread the word about Countryside, whether you are talking about it or taking photos of the books or reviewing them!  I hope y’all have a wonderful week, and we’ll talk soon! – JT

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