Saturday, April 12, 2008


Diane Prince welcomed everyone and introduced the program.

The prayer was offered by Linda Reeves.

The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Vicki Harbertson.

Presentation on “A Principle of Freedom” was given by Rebecca Bierwolf entitled, “All Men Are Created Equal”.

Rebecca gave an inspiring message of the ways we are and are not equal as a people. The ways we are equal are in the sight of God, under the law and by how the laws protect us. Some of the ways in which we are not equal are seen in our personal lives and within our families. We all are blessed with different talents and abilities, but in these ways we are not equal. She expressed that the breakdown of inequality happens through the minorities. Rebecca is in the minority in that she has been disabled since being hit by a car at 18 months of age. Her parents raised her with no barriers or boundaries. She was chosen to be Miss Wheelchair Utah and then Runner-up to National Miss Wheelchair. It was at the National competition that she realized that there are many who cannot do as much as she can do, and that she wanted to do something to protect their rights and make sure that they were being adequately helped and protected through the laws of our land. She discussed the ADA laws and has learned much about them. In doing so she has realized how important those laws are to those less abled. She encouraged us to celebrate our differences but in so doing, also be aware that inequality becomes exposed with the more freedom and differences that we share. We have a responsibility to protect the minorities, by making sure that the laws of our land that were made to enable them, are being upheld.

Debra Poulsen led us in a wonderful forum activity that helped us recognize the great accomplishments of The United Women’s Forum in this first year of organization. She shared a poem that in essence speaks of our efforts within the forum. It is as follows:

Written by Edward Everet Hale:

I am only one

But still I am one

I cannot do everything

But still I can do something

And because I cannot do everything

I will not refuse to do that something I can do

And what I can do

I ought to do,

And with god's help I will do.

Adrienne Buckley spoke of the efforts by Shelly Davies regarding inappropriate magazines being displayed at Barnes and Noble and the support of the forum in that endeavor, as well as the forums success in helping stop VIVID from recruiting young Utah girls into their pornographic movie industry. There will be a letter on our blog that we can cut, copy, sign and send to Barnes and Noble corporate offices to protest the material that they are unlawfully displaying.

Debra Poulsen made a special presentation to Linda Reeves for being a founder of The United Women’s Forum and for her great vision and efforts given in its behalf. We will miss her and wish her well as she serves with her husband for the next three years in California as Mission President. Lauralee Christensen was also recognized for her generosity in providing her home as the meeting place for forum meetings monthly during the past year.

Diane Prince introduced our guest speaker, Mr. Ike Ferguson. Along with his many academic accomplishments and honors, Marge Clayton said that the best way to describe him is as a “hands on person with a heart as big as the universe”.

Mr. Ferguson has been involved with welfare work throughout the world since the 1970’s as a profession and has spent most of his efforts focusing on the poor people of other continents as well here in the United States. In doing so, he has discovered that we in North America have a highly exaggerated expectation for our temporal lives as compared to most other people in the world; that humans are remarkably similar in their basic needs and wants and that though we all live in different settings, have similar challenges, opportunities and duties. Four questions have repeated themselves over and over in his work, both faith-based and in community settings.

l. Who do we help?

2. How do we help?

3. How and how much do we help?

4. When do we help?

He stated that for him the inner conflict has been – “the conflict of a tender, giving heart seeing need and wanting to fix it, struggling with the more objective issues of teaching correct principles and leading the needy person toward a greater level of self-reliance, security and personal peace in his/her life”. He shared five ideas that might be helpful in our coming to understand the needs of people, and how best to give aid to those less-secure in their lives. They are:

l. The sometimes misunderstood meaning of human equality;

2. The influence of Judeo-Christian ethics in the generosity of American society;

3. The role of government as a player in making us all equal;

4. Understanding the culture of poverty and its influence in peoples’ lives; and

5. How we as individuals evaluate inequality and act responsibly in doing our part to


The following are remarks from his talk that were so poignant in helping us understand how we can most effectively help others.

Bill Bonner illustrated this notion of “discovering poverty” using a New England woodsman as an example. I readily relate to this scenario, particularly from my experience in Africa:

“The woodchopper from New Hampshire…discover[s]… that he lives not only in a "substandard" hovel, but that he is "poor." Poverty is always a relative measure, but relative to what? A man may be perfectly happy with his lot in life. He may have no running water, no central heat, and no money. Imagine him tending his garden, feeding his chickens, and fixing his tattered roof…. In fact, by all measures that matter to him, he could have a rich, comfortable and enjoyable life. But as the scale of comparison grows, the details that make his life so agreeable to him disappear in a flush of statistics. He finds that he is below the "poverty line." He discovers that he is "disadvantaged" and "under-privileged." He may even be delighted to realize that he has a "right" to "decent housing." Maybe he will qualify for food stamps.

“The idea of being "poor" may never have occurred to him before. He may live in a part of the world where everyone is about as poor as he is...and all perfectly happy in their poverty. But now that the spell is on him, it sits like a curse. Poverty seems like something he has to escape...something he has to get out of ...something that someone had better to do something about!

“His new scaled-up consciousness has turned him into a malcontent. The poor man, previously happy in his naïve particulars, is now miserable in his role as a poverty-stricken hick.”16

We who are prosperous often contribute to the woodsman’s woes because of our own thought processes. We eat store-bought processed food—everyone should. We sleep in comfortable bedrooms with carpeted floors and on beds with box springs and mattresses—everyone should. Our children are educated in modern, well-equipped schools—all children should. We have access to the latest in communication and technology—everyone should. The reality is, two-thirds of the world’s population have few, if any, of these luxuries, but are still relatively healthy and happy. These people have their challenges, often temporal; we have ours, as well, often social and/or spiritual. The moral: perhaps we should be less judgmental, sympathetic or pitying, and more interested in understanding the circumstances and priorities of others, from their perspective. I recall a high school educated school teacher in Liberia who walked two hours each way to his $30 per month classroom job at a rural orphanage. He had none of the above-named “basics.” Asked what would be his highest priority for improving life, he remarked that a second-hand bicycle would save him three hours walking each day, allowing him more time with his young family.

Mr. Ferguson encouraged us to understand the “hidden rules” of different of societies. They are the “unspoken cues and habits of a group, and in many cases denote what is most important to them” and how we can best help.

In his concluding remarks he referred to a “landmark” book written by David Landes entitled The Wealth and Poverty of Nations in which Mr. Landes writes:

“History tells us that most cures for poverty come from within. Foreign aid (or any other assistance for that matter) can help, but like windfall wealth, can also hurt. It can discourage effort and plant a crippling sense of incapacity…at bottom, no empowerment is so effective as self-empowerment.”

For Mr. Ferguson’s complete address please refer to the following link:

A special Birthday luncheon was held after the meeting.

1 comment:

united women's forum said...

Becky, You did such a wonderful job on the minutes. Thanks for your work. Debra