Bristol Palin’s pregnant pause

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Bristol Palin is the beautiful, intelligent 17-year old daughter of Sarah Palin, who is a woman many of us hope becomes the first-ever female to serve as the Vice-President of the United States, and one day possibly the first female President.

Sarah Palin is a woman who can serve as a wonderful example for all young women to follow, and whom I would love to become a role model for my own young daughters. Her daughter, Bristol, is now pregnant with a child fathered by her boyfriend.

All the important people are saying all the ‘politically correct’ things that they are supposed to say like “It’s a family matter”, “It’s a private matter”, “It’s no one’s business but Bristol, the young man, and their families.”

All good, correct, proper positions to take. Of course when your mom is running for Vice-President, as Bristol’s mom is, it really is not, nor should it be expected to be, that simple.

Our own parents watched on TV as little John-John and Caroline Kennedy ran around the White House. I watched as a teenager as young Amy Carter went through that awkward, ugly-duckling phase. And most of you old enough to be reading and understanding this were likely old enough to have experienced the growing pains of Chelsea Clinton and both Jenna and Barbara Bush.

Fact is, when you make the decision to accept a call to national office as Sarah Palin has, you accept that your family, your past, your entire life and the lives of those important to you are going to become public knowledge.

In today’s day and age, that means that you and yours are going to become the topics of water cooler conversations, blogger opinions, gossip show episodes, magazine covers, etc.

I don’t know much about Bristol Palin – yet, but believe me when I say that we all will know much more about her in the coming days, weeks, months, and hopefully years.

I pray that she will be healthy, that her child will be healthy, and that the relationship with her boyfriend ends up strong enough to support a happy marriage and life-long partnership and commitment.

All that said, the main thing that I pray for young Bristol Palin is strength. She is going to need it, not just because she will now come under more intense public scrutiny, but just for the fact of becoming a parent as a teenager.

I know, I’ve been there, done that. I was 17 years old when I learned that my high school girlfriend was pregnant. We had been dating for almost three years when we found out that our lives were going to change.

Much like Bristol Palin, we made the correct decision to have the baby, not abort it and end it’s life for our convenience. We also got married, which may or may not have been the best decision.

No matter the circumstances, it is difficult for a 17-year old to appreciate what “the rest of your life” means. The marriage lasted over a decade, and we had another child along the way. We also had many challenges that most young people our age don’t have to face, and in the end were not strong enough to keep it together.

But my two daughters are beautiful young women of whom I am very proud, much as Sarah Palin is proud of her daughter in these trying circumstances, and despite all the difficult times over the years, I just would not want to imagine a life without them in it.

My oldest also went through a similar situation, single parenthood in her 20’s, now twice over. I hope that she marries the man who is the father of my grandson. He seems like a nice guy at this point, one who generally has his head on straight and his priorities mostly appropriately aligned.

We all hope for the best for our children, for some concept that we have of a ‘perfect’ and ‘normal’ happy life. But reality has a way of stepping in and making you adjust on the fly.

Sarah Palin has done the right thing by teaching her children abstinence and providing a moral leadership and value system in her home. But the fact remains that Bristol Palin is her own person, and so are the other Palin kids. They are going to have challenges in their lives that their parents will have to help them through, that is the nature of being a parent.

You don’t weaken your values system just because of a situation, you instead use those situations as opportunities to strengthen your family even more, and to provide an example for others as to how families should react during such challenges. You don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Young Bristol Palin is going to have it a bit harder, at least for awhile, than she would have had she not gotten pregnant. She is going to come under a microscope, because even if many in the more professional news services do generally abide by the public calls for privacy, that won’t be the case with all.

She will be followed, photographed, videotaped. Questions will be yelled, hollered, whispered at her anywhere she goes in public.

They won’t come from her friends and neighbors in Wasilia, Alaska. No, the pregnancy was no secret there, and the regular folks of that town and region frankly could care less as it relates to Sarah Palin’s election efforts.

Young Bristol will have it hard, but her life is far from over, in fact it is just beginning, much as that of her young child will be just beginning. Perhaps more than anything that is the biggest lesson to be learned here. The lesson on the importance of life and it’s value. The importance of the life of Bristol Palin’s little baby.

The baby may force Bristol into a bit of a pregnant pause in her life, but should not change anything about the families value system or what they teach their younger children.

God bless the Palin family and the family of the young man involved, and especially the new life that God Himself created, and that Bristol is bringing into the world. After all, it is a life, not a choice.

It’s a hard rain’s gonna fall

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Hurricane Gustav begins to strike at New Orleans

For the 2nd time in three years, the City of New Orleans prepares this morning to be blasted by a powerful hurricane.

The devastation wrought back in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina is now legendary, but a great deal of that horror was not a creation of God, or Mother Nature, or any kind of natural or supernatural being or event. The devastation was brought on man by man.

For at least decades, the governments, both local and regional, and the people of the Gulf region were warned that this was going to happen, it was just a matter of time.

It is not the responsibility of the federal government to build giant walls and roofs so that men can be protected from every possible disaster. Men need at some point to take responsibility for their own actions and lives.

When you purposefully and intentionally make the decision that you and your family are going to live in an area that is historically prone to certain natural events, then you have chosen to take on certain risks and have the responsibility to ensure that you and yours can survive and recover when those events occur.

And the key word in that entire statement is ‘when’, because this is not an ‘if’ scenario. Hurricanes barrel through the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico every single year. They have done so for all of recorded history, and they will continue to do so into the future.

In the U.S., this means that coastal states such as Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and the Carolinas are always going to be vulnerable to these types of events. Anyone who moves into or remains living in those states near the coastlines makes the choice that the beauty of everyday life there is worth the trade-off in having to evacuate or baton down when these strong storms hit.

When they do hit, those who have made those decisions, along with their local and state governments, should be responsible for any recovery and rebuilding.

It is not as if these events are a surprise, a sudden calamity that could not have been forecast. While any particular storm cannot be foreseen, the fact that there will be storms year after year, and that some of these will be of the devastating variety, means that people who live in these areas are rolling the dice.

When we gamble and win, it is considered being ‘lucky’, it is not usually considered smart. When you gamble and lose, it should not be my responsibility to bail you out and put you back on your feet.

Do people need help out of the goodness of others hearts? Sure, that is the point of charity and volunteerism. But for the federal government to continue to take hundreds of millions of dollars in hits because of the continued and repetitive gambling of some of our citizens is ridiculous.

Every time that a natural disaster hits, the first question is “What is the federal government going to do about this?” The fact is that members of local governments have made the choice to be citizens of those communities, and they need to be responsible. They need to educate their fellow community members, prepare for responding to these incidents, and prepare for recovery from these incidents.

The local governments and businesses and citizens of New Orleans and the surrounding parishes were told that a Katrina-like event was going to happen. They chose to make other decisions over the years and decades in their spending that did not address the issues of basic protections against such a storm. Instead, the federal government was expected to protect them from their choice to live in that area, and bail them out in recovery when the event actually happened.

And this is not the only example of this type of thinking and lack of preparation. For decades, the people in the San Francisco and Oakland areas, and many other communities in southern California, have been warned that a major earthquake of a devastating magnitude is going to strike at some point. Not some point hundreds of years in the future, but likely at some point in the next few years or decades.

It is going to happen: buildings, bridges, roads, homes will topple and hundreds if not thousands or more of people are going to die. It is a fact of the future that every one of those people has been warned about. But they have chosen to live in those areas anyway because there are many benefits on a day-to-day basis.

I respect and acknowledge the right of those folks to live in those areas. But they have chosen to live there in a known disaster-waiting-to-happen neighborhood, and when it happens, likely in my lifetime, it should not be my responsibility to bail them out and help them rebuild right there so that it can all happen again someday.

Sudden, unexpected events are one thing. Predicted and expected events are another. One results in a tragedy, the other results in a bad choice coming home to roost.

It appears that Hurricane Gustav, which will slam into Louisiana today, will not be nearly as bad as Katrina was, but it will be a strong storm that will beat down an area already beaten badly. The fact is that a hard rain is going to fall, and the further fact is that it won’t be the last time.