What It Means to Be An American

At the beginning of this year, I saw U2 perform at their 30th-anniversary concert of  Joshua Tree album. It was a humble, reflective celebration of what is probably Bono and U2’s most famous album. There is an emotion that while the album touches on social issues around the world is undeniably American. Bono has stated in several interviews that he loves America and what it has been for the Irish people.

During a San Diego concert, Bono spoke these words: America “has become our second home,” Bono said. “It’s not just a country, is it? … It’s a great idea; it’s one of the best ideas ever.” “A country built on hope cannot be driven by fear,” Bono went on to say in the brief address in between songs. “A country founded on equality cannot allow hate to pull it apart.”*

America is a nation of immigrants. Unless you are a Native American, your ancestors came from another country usually in search of a better life. It is a crazy thought that people in a day and age where they were not as readily connected as we are now would leave all things familiar to travel to a land they have never been. Not only a place they have never been but a land full of danger and trials. My first question is why? What would drive someone to that place? Well the answer I have always grown up being told is freedom, and while that is very true, it is an oversimplification.

Freedom alone isn’t the only thing that draws people to America; it’s goodness. It’s the words written on Lady liberty. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” –Emma Lazarus Those words send a message of hope in a nation built by refugees of political, religious, or economic persecution.

It seems though, that we have chosen to forget that part of our history. When I look that those in the conservative thought camp I hear constant anti-immigrant sentiments, and the fact is none of this is new. The Irish were met with hatred and contempt, and the newcomers versus old comers have been a battle waged since the inception of America.

It seems that when we have tasted of the goodness of America, we have no interest in sharing the blessings.

What it means to be American is to be able to be something new, it isn’t just freedom. It is the freedom to dream and to know that the only thing stopping you is you. While you may believe that the systems are out to destroy you, the opportunity to succeed still can be done in the USA. It is that ideal that has brought millions into this country. Maybe the system is crushing you, and all you can see is the injustice. Instead of pointing our fingers at immigrants and others in general. Maybe it’s time to better ourselves.

U2 has released a single off their new album Songs of Experience. The track Get Out of Your Own Way I think speaks to all of us.

Love hurts
Now you’re the girl who’s left with no words
Your heart’s a balloon, but then it bursts
It doesn’t take a cannon, just a pin
Your skin’s not covering
And resistance
Love has got to fight for its existence
The enemy has armies for assistance
The amorist, the glamorous, the kiss
A fist, listen to this, oh

[Chorus: Bono]
Get out of your own way, oh, I
Get out of your own way, oh, I

[Post-Chorus: Bono]
I could sing it to you all night, all night
If I could, I’d make it alright, alright
Nothing’s stopping you except what’s inside
I can help you, but it’s your fight, your fight

[Verse 2: Bono]
Fight back
Don’t take it lyin’ down, you got to bite back
The face of liberty’s starting to crack
She had a plan up until she got smacked in the mouth
And it all went south
Like freedom
The slaves are lookin’ for someone to lead them
The master’s lookin’ for someone to need him
The promised land is there for those who need it most
And Lincoln’s ghost said…

[Chorus: Bono]
Get out of your own way, oh, I
Get out of your own way, oh, I

[Post-Chorus: Bono]
I could sing it to you all night, all night
If I could, I’d make it alright, alright
Nothing’s stopping you except what’s inside
I can help you, but it’s your fight, your fight

[Chorus: Bono]
Get out of your own way
Get out of your own way
Get out of your own way

[Outro: Kendrick Lamar]
Blessed are the arrogant
For there is the kingdom of their own company
Blessed are the superstars
For the magnificence in their light
We understand better our own insignificance
Blessed are the filthy rich
For you can only truly own what you give away
Like your pain

We are the only ones who make ourselves victims and only we can decide who we want to be. The opportunity to be more is what America is made of. This is the freedom that caused people to sell everything they owned. This is the future that so many died for, and give everything in defense of. The opportunity to become more is the American dream. That is what it means to be an American.

*Source: http://www.glennbeck.com/2017/09/26/a-country-founded-on-equality-bono-encourages-americans-with-this-stirring-speech/?utm_source=glennbeck&utm_medium=contentcopy_link

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Call of the Wild

maxresdefault (1)In a world of Netflix and Play Station, there is a void. A void, that as the lifestyle of bigger is better takes a front seat in our hearts and our minds, grows subtly without many of us noticing. There is nothing inherently wrong with 4K TVs and the latest and greatest smartwatch. I’m for all these things. But there is a disconnect between our reality and actual reality. A disconnect that has caused the culture to collectively go inside. More of us have probably experienced something through digital entertainment then actually have seen or done those things. Now some of that might be good like in the case of FPS gamers, but I think you get my point. Most of us don’t actually do anything anymore. We all can play billiards on our phone, but we can’t play pool in real life.

I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah near the Wasatch Mountains. I moved away before my earliest memories. I spent most of my childhood in Chicago and Houston. There was nothing special about me. I was just your average kid from suburbia. I loved playing video games and pretending to be a soldier. I had an interest in mountain men and history but not really in the outdoors.

My mom was like any other homeschool mom trying to encourage less time on the computer and more time outside. I would often respond to her request for me to play outside with. “There is nothing to do outside.” To be honest, there really wasn’t much to do in the suburbs of Chicago or Houston.

When I was 18 years old, my mom planned this trip across The American West and Canada. We packed up her minivan and traveled the road for a month. When I was in Colorado, a friend convinced me to get up and drive to the top of Mount Evans to catch the sunrise over the Front Range near Evergreen, Colorado. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. The next day I drove to Salt Lake City for the first time in 17 years. There was something about the place and the people living right at the foot of the mountains that drew me in. That trip I saw so many beautiful places, Olympic National Park, Mount Saint Helens, Whistler, and Glacier National Park, to name a few. That trip changed my life. It opened my eyes to the beauty of the great outdoors.

I have never been satisfied since.

I love the mountains and mountain culture. That trip led me to take more into the western United States. I couldn’t get enough of the mountain views, crisp cold mornings, and vast sandstone landscapes. It consumed by senses and stole my heart. I became the biggest fan of musicians that were inspired by The American West. Dan Fogelberg and John Denver were the soundtrack of my travels, and feel that John Denver’s sentiment “I guess he’d rather be in Colorado” is my heart’s desire conveyed through music.

I picked up mountaineering, rock climbing, and backpacking in the years since. I cannot get enough of the mountains. Van life is something that appeals to me. I have since climbed Mountains and camped on a sandbar in the Narrows. I cannot get enough of the American West or nature in general. I’m kind of an outdoor junkie at this point in my life. That is something that I never really had before. I found a home for my soul. Most my life I never felt like I fit in with any culture or felt at home. The mountains are like home to me.

The power of nature and its draw is incredible. God created the outdoors, and we were created to be in the great outdoors. Going out and exploring the vast world we live in has been the most awe-inspiring moments of my life. I found my something to do outside, and it has changed my lifestyle. I think the culture needs more these moments. Getting back to nature I think helps us reconnect with reality, helps us grow, or truly hear our own thoughts.

Go outside, do what you wouldn’t normally do. Find trails, climb rocks, and reach mountain tops. I think you’ll find your call of the wild.

Hitting the wall today out at Gus Fruh.

A post shared by Drew Koch (@andrewdkoch) on

OPINION-Why Ted Cruz Will Not Be Leading the Next Generation

Ted Cruz is a TEA Party sensation and someone who holds many of my same values. His charisma and charm are undoubtedly effective, but he is polarizing to many of the young generation by his followers and his talking points. Please don’t get me wrong, I love Ted Cruz, but he doesn’t represent where the majority of millennials stand on the issues.
Humor me before you click away. Historically young people do play and will play an important role in the national political scene. Young people are the future and liberals know this, so they focus on them. One factor that contributed to Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory in 1980 was the historic crossover of young people voting Republican. My mom was one of those young people. Before that point, she was a registered Maryland Democrat. How did Reagan cause that to happen? It wasn’t his youthfulness, since he was the oldest person to ever be elected U.S. President.

The Situation

Before I answer that question, we must understand where my generation is coming from. The vast majority of young people graduating college are liberal, mainly because our college campuses are used as indoctrination camps for liberal thinking. But what this system has done is created the perspective that there are only two legitimate platforms. One being liberalism, the other libertarianism. In a secular setting the vast majority of young people view the TEA Party as Bible-belt Christianity which has no place for our new generation. Our education system and liberal media have indoctrinated the upcoming generation into believing that social conservatives are not scientific and are crazy Bible thumping teabaggers.

Young people overall view it as narrow-minded and bigoted to think that marriage is between one man and one woman, or that illegal drugs should be illegal. These social issues have been championed with Biblical arguments that have only caused the millennial generation to dismiss those points as mute.

Whether you agree with this or not, that is the reality. People dismiss the Bible. By using only Biblical talking points, Social Conservatives have done nothing but hurt themselves in the political arena. While conservative Catholics have done wonders in protecting the sanctity of life, the marriage battle waged by many Evangelicals has done nothing but gain bad press for conservatives. Keep in mind where the young people stand will be where the next generation will stand.

My analysis of the situation is that Republicanism has veered away from libertarianism something Reagan said was the heart of his philosophy. As he stated in 1975 in Reason magazine, “If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.” Conservatives now have made their talking points about social issues. We have the same people running for office saying they will fight the gay agenda and save babies but at the end of the day continue to accomplish little to nothing. Instead, they keep up appearances and let our debt soar higher and higher. This is crony conservativism, and this is what my generation has had enough of. People who use God as a personal tool to get elected and then don’t fight for half of what they claim to support. Trust me, Ted Cruz does not fit this image I just painted, but his talking points are no different than this crowd of people. This is why he cannot, in the eyes of the up and coming leaders and voters, be the person to inspire young people.


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Can We Bridge the Gap?

There is always hope. The Republican Party needs a facelift if they want to get the attention of young people. I am not suggesting they need to change their values, but only find extra-biblical talking points to prove their point. This concept has been taught as the idea of “Thinking Biblically, speaking Secularly.” If we want to prove to young people that, for example God’s word is true then it shouldn’t be hard to find reasons from hard facts to show that what God said is true. More importantly Social Conservatives need to understand that forcing religious beliefs upon the majority is tyranny very similar to what our founding fathers decided to fight against. It is one thing to tell people what you believe, it another thing to use the government to require that everyone follow your belief.

I know for many this is a hard pill to swallow. As a follower of Jesus, I believe the Bible is true word for word and can give us guidance. What I also believe is that there are examples in our culture that show what God said is true and can be proven with facts. One example is the recent backlash against pornography. A very prominent organization out there called Fight the New Drug uses secular reasoning why pornography is terrible and there are many Christians behind the movement. Their efforts are being aided by Hollywood surprisingly, with voices like Russell Brand and movies like Don Jon which speak out against the use of porn. It is things like this that help bring about change and open people up to the gospel. This is what social conservatives need to emphasize, realizing that is how we can take back our country.

The Case For Liberty

On that note, taking back our country is not going to be easy. I believe that if we truly want to unite Americans in the cause of conservatism, we must embrace libertarianism. What is libertarianism? Sharon Harris, President of Advocates for Self-Government defines libertarianism like this, “Libertarianism is, as the name implies, the belief in liberty. Libertarians believe that each person owns his own life and property and has the right to make his own choices as to how he lives his life and uses his property – as long as he simply respects the equal right of others to do the same.” This is what conservatives need realize is the core of a secular approach to their viewpoints. A conservative government should promote the protection of Life, Liberty, and Property and the principles of limited government. Anything beyond that definition will give grounds to allow the government to impose itself in areas, where depending on the party in power, will mean we will be subject to whims of their philosophies. Conservativism and libertarianism work in harmony to produce a society that will embrace Christian values but make sense of those values for the non-Christians. Liberty must be at the core of our beliefs and if we disagree with those who believe in it more strongly, you must realize those people are who will be with all the way on almost everything else. The idea of liberty is what united a large enough group to declare war against the greatest superpower in the world at that point. It is a powerful principle and liberty must be protected at all cost.

We must recognize that our government must limit its authority only to handle protecting Life, Liberty, and Property and to uphold contracts. We cannot try and legislate our religious beliefs to keep people from doing things that do not harm other citizens. These principles and ideas are essential to establishing the functional government that Fredrick Bastiat wrote about in The Law.

The biggest reason we are in this current cultural situation is because the church as an institution has not been the light to society it needs to be. Politics is a reflection of culture. We cannot use the government to replace what the church was supposed to do. Society should help society, and I believe that the Church should take care of society, not the government.

As a young person I see so much inconsistency in the Social Conservative movement. The media will show no mercy to us, so as conservatives we must be above reproach in our rhetoric and thinking. The vast majority of conservative young people are moving towards libertarianism simply because they see that it is what is consistent with our founding principles even when it’s not convenient. This is what will reboot the Reagan Revolution.

The Strategy

Where do we go from here to truly create the Reagan Revolution? The plan is simple. Conservatives need to change their rhetoric. The element of persuasion requires us to speak to people where they are at. We must use tangible evidence and stories to move this generation, and we must speak their language. If you strongly believe that the government needs to be involved in marriage, then you need to show there are psychological and social problems that involve gay marriage. Quoting the Bible is not going to convince this generation. They want proof, not just words that mean nothing to them. Maybe the answer is that the government should stay out of marriage? This is what is gaining popularity with young conservatives. Remember the Apostle Paul on Mars Hill quoted the philosophers of the Greeks when speaking to the people of Athens. He did not berate them with Jewish Scriptures, he met them where there were at with the truth. This is how you convince and win people over. You get down on their level and guide them to truth.

Most important, conservatives need to embrace liberty and not push against it. As Ronald Reagan himself said, libertarianism is the heart of what he believed. We cannot dismiss the founding principles of our nation because we don’t like the viewpoints of other people. If we do not embrace liberty, we will be the party of exclusion and will never have relevance with the young American voter. We must also understand that libertarianism is how a secularist makes sense of conservative Christian values.

Lastly, the church must be the social light it once was. Instead of embracing social change is should be the influence of it. The church has surrendered culture and in our form of government, the church is a crucial institution. Without it, our society falls apart. We need to actually follow our conservative narrative and promote the protection of Life, Liberty, and Property and the principles of limited government.

So what about Ted Cruz? He is a great statesman and speaker, but again his talking points represent mainly the evangelical voter and he does not use the element of libertarianism to reach out to new groups of people. Republicans talk about how we need another Reagan Revolution. If we truly want to see another sweep across this country of conservatives taking back our nation, we must win the young people. The key is changing our messaging and embracing more libertarianism.

Definition: http://www.theadvocates.org/libertarianism-101/definitions-of-libertarianism/

Hope and Change: A Call to this Generation

About two years ago I was hit hard by life. My dad decided it was time to move on. I was living in Houston at the time and I was left wondering what to do. The questions of whether it was my fault haunt me to this day. It’s a pain that stays with you and turns into anger when people expect you to do the impossible while they are requiring the ordinary of themselves. It was at this time of my life I was faced with two options. I could sit in my house and pout about how the world seemed out to get me or go and change it. It was at this time I saw the poor and helpless for the first time. I saw the murder of the unborn as genocide for the first time. I saw a church shooting itself in the foot with its apathy lack of passion. I asked myself is there hope, and if there was, could I even hope to make a difference? God gave me answers to my questions. He told me I’ve given you breathe, use it to turn the world upside down. The world will hate you and your own friends will criticize you, but you will be about my business. It was that day I decided I would do something. I never looked back. I have never let the status quo be since that day.

40 Days for Life was something that I got involved in after a friend of mine at breakfast challenged a group of us to go out to an abortion clinic. Most of us had never been. It was the first time I was ever emerged into a battle where lives are being snuffed out before your very eyes. It is a sobering experience. I attempted to get more involved but my parents’ divorce was not final so hearings kept requiring me to go to Houston.

It was not too long after that I discovered the judge in the family court back in Houston decided that homeschooling was not a legitimate form of education and that my dad should put my siblings in public school. I could just accept the violation of rights or I could fight it. I chose to fight. I began a petition and was able to get over a couple thousand emails sent to the Judge urging her to reconsider her decision. Tim Lambert of Texas Home School Coalition wrote the judge and there was a change.org petition was shared across the world. A little under 2,500 signatures came in before I closed the petition. It became a success when the judge recognized homeschooling as a legitimate education option after she received thousands of emails and a couple dozen calls.

I then became swamped with emails of people who were encouraged by my efforts and would still fight to be able to home school. I even got an email where one woman said she was inspired to home school her kids because of what I did. All it took was one high school student to stand up and not accept the status quo. People underestimate youth. They have low expectations of them. If just one person goes against the flow it will at the least leave an impact that affects future generations.

One of the next things I did was follow Jason Vaughn around the Capitol for about two weeks. We were working to help push the Texas pro-life bill through, HB2. After watching the first bill die in the first special session there was a great push when Governor Perry called a second special session. Tons of protesters showed up at the Capitol for the next couple of weeks.

Media was crucial for the pro-life group out at the Capitol. There were a handful of us equipped with cameras to record and catch the opposition acting unethically. If nobody was out there using social media tools and getting the footage, people would not know what was going on in the Capitol. Jason Vaughn the guy I was helping out, got Hail Satan trending worldwide on Twitter when several videos of people shouting “hail satan” were produced during the session. Everything that happened only happened because a handful worked overtime to make it happen. If those folks were not there the goings on in the Texas Capitol could be a lot different. The bill may have died because of all the negative media attention and lack of respect for the politically incorrect viewpoint.

 

 

So what am I saying? We need young people to rise up and speak up for their generation. We need 20-somethings with their free time standing for truth. Because if not them, then who will? We live in an exciting time where before us where we have the responsibility to stop an agenda that intends to turn America into a godless socialist wasteland. You don’t have to have connections, great leadership potential, and communication skills. God doesn’t need your talents; He just wants you to be willing to offer yourself to Him as a vessel to use. My story is a testimony of how God chose to use a kid from a broken home who was told his whole life that he was worthless and ineffective. That he would never succeed. That he should be content with his quality of life. It’s a story of how he said no and resolved to do something to fight for justice. That story can be your story if you are just willing to look at the world around you with a different pair of eyes. If we had an army of young people that were willing to fight for the unborn, the widow, and the orphan then if that army was only a 100 strong, I believe that a difference can be made. The only thing that is stopping us is you not getting involved. This generation is in a crucial time in history if we do not defend the Judeo-Christian principles that this nation was founded on we head towards a fall much like Rome’s. If we rise up there is still hope that we can spark a revival to stop the downward spiral into darkness. It can only happen if you are willing to serve. It’s time for you to lead the escape, to light the path, and make known the present danger. Everybody talks about hope and change, let’s be the generation that actually makes these things a reality.

Who is Pro-Choice America?

Beauty-Is-in-the-Street-001Being at the Capitol for the past few days has given me a in depth view of the pro-choice supporters. One of the slogans that I have seen frequently used by many at the Texas Capitol is a poster that is origins from a violent 1968 French protest. While not all Planned Parenthood supporters are violent I have seen a vast majority of them with quite offensive materials pointed at Texas Legislators and pro-life protesters. The fact that they came at the end of the pro-life rally on Monday night and began shouting and chanting trying to drown out the band playing on the Capitol steps should speak wonders about the attitude of this group of people.

The history of the poster pictured to the left is the slogan that people of the pro-choice movement translated in English to “Beauty is in the Street”. This was the leading poster and motto from the student riots in Paris, France in 1968. They were a massive group of Marxist communists that wanted to violently protest the government. The object above the woman’s head is a a brick being thrown. The protests were violent and the use of this slogan was representing the worship of the violence of the protest.

Today, pro-choice protesters proudly flaunt this poster translated into English, which can only mean they want a violent protest and from the footage and photographs I have been taken the desire of the destruction of the foundational principles of due process. IMG_8749

This is pro-choice America. Violent Marxists that want to have the right to murder their children. This is not America, this is not the America our founders wanted. This, this is the evil of Nazi Germany and the USSR making itself known here in America. Where are the righteous? We must rise against evil. We must stand firm on our watch. Ronald Reagan said ” Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” We must stop this pro-death culture from instating their Marxism in our government. We need a revival in this land. The politics of our nation are a reflection of our society. Our society needs Jesus. Please stand against evil.IMG_9356

Loving Our Enemies

When I look at my companions’ and fellow co-workers I don’t just see familiar faces, but the faces of patriots like those of old outnumbered and worn, fighting a uphill battle in the face of staunch opposition. Standing for the unborn is serious job that requires those that believe in life to put in long hours. It taxes upon a person’s strength because evil does not sleep. I have had minimal sleep, and have not ceased to work an almost 24/7 schedule to defend life.

 

Sometimes I do look at my co-workers and wonder why am I killing myself over this? Why am I fighting so hard against a foe so big and abusive like Planned Parenthood? Why do I take endless photographs and walk among angry protesters and listen to people calling me a sexist bastard and illogical fool? Why do take the insults and threats that are sent in hateful passion by pro-choicers? I’ll tell you why. Because I serve a God greater than Planned Parenthood and a God so big that He can’t stoop to their level. I stand for those who can’t speak because it is right. I stand for those who can’t speak because if not me who will stop murder?

 

Today in front of the Texas House doors after House Bill 2 passed to the Senate, I saw a father and a son and the father told his young boy to tell the screaming and chanting pro-choice protestors to say “I love you”. That little boy shouted and his voice rang clear among the shouting. He was heard, and was ignored because truth is meaningless to those that want convenience over it. That young boy voiced a message that while we hate abortion and the effects that it has on our society. We do not hate the people supporting it. Our passion is life and to protect all human life.

 

My challenge to you is to tell a pro-choicer wherever you are and regardless of who they are. Tell them that you love them. Love is the only thing that is more powerful then hate. We need to overcome hate with love. I can guarantee you that even though the people yelling at the Reps walking out of the house heard that little boy and will be responsible for the hate that they inflict on others knowing the attitude of those that stand for life.

 

So go and overcome darkness with light, hate with love, and Satan with Jesus. We need patriots and Christians alike to fight the good fight and stand for life in the Texas Senate and Senate Bill 1. I challenge you to show love whether it be correctional, disciplinary, and parental love to show that love to those that want to murder their children. The world needs answers and we have them. Go let that answer be heard.

Update on the Fight for Life in Austin

The past few days have proven to be the most exhausting and challenging days of my life. The late nights and intense work environment begin to take its toll upon those championing for life. But we are still for that very reason alone, life. If were not for these modern day patriots no one would stand for life and the status quo would reign supreme. That has not happen though, because right now men of valor and principle are voting and standing for the unborn in the Texas legislature.

Thomas Umstattd Jr. has been valiant in his live-stream broadcast at lettexasspeak.com over the past few days and having powerful Texas voices speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. This effort though has not gone unnoticed by the media or those that call us their enemy. But what I want to point out about our opposition is that while the environment  has been intense it has not been by the advances of pro-lifers. I witnessed with my own eyes pro-lifers embracing a more outspoken women to hold and and sing with them. It may not be easy, but we strive love the women that our out here in opposition to house bill 2.

We are here because we stand for life. We love children and we want the government to protect their rights. We openly embrace those that are on the other side. We believe in life and in defending it at all cost. This is who we represent and the reason we do what we are doing.