My family still lives on the small family farm in the Uinta Basin, where my parents taught in public schools and where my siblings and I were born and carefully nurtured and taught with kindness, wisdom, and love.
Like most Utahns past and present, my ancestors came to Utah seeking refuge among the Mountains.
I use all three of my names as given to me by tradition, with my first name uniquely representing me and all that I stand for and do, my middle name reminding me of my mother’s heritage, and my last name reminding me of my father’s heritage.
My Hamblin ancestors came here with the Latter-day Saint pioneers. My great uncle Jacob Hamblin was an emissary negotiating peace between the resident tribes and the Latter-day Saints. One of his nick names was “Peacemaker.” He was renowned for his honesty and integrity. My life journey so far seems to be on a similar course of bridging the chasms between disparate groups.
My great grandfather Brown herded his flock of sheep from central Utah, through Ninemile Canyon to his homestead allotment in the Uinta Basin. Decades later I accompanied my parents as they led Boy Scouts through Ninemile Canyon teaching the recent and ancient anthropological history of this desert region.
My Fetzer ancestors came here from Germany to join the Latter-day Saints. My grandfather and great grandfather were architects who designed buildings throughout Utah. As a biology student at the University of Utah I attended class in the chemistry building designed by my grandfather. In a unique and beautiful chapel designed by grandfather, I played piano as a young child accompanying my mother playing violin and her sister playing cello. For many years I remembered the simplified arrangement a hymn which I memorized for that presentation. My grandfather told me that the theme he placed in the stained glass and metalwork of the Jordan River Latter-day Saint Temple is a vertical parabola, swooping downward then abruptly upward in lines that never cross, which he said represents our arrival here on Earth from life with no beginning and our departure from this life to live everlasting. My grandfather, Henry Fetzer, and his brother, Emil, regaled me with marvelous stories of faith and miracles occurring during their work designing temples.
My mother and father met when they were each attending the University of Utah where they were both earning biology degrees with teaching certification.
My father taught at public elementary, middle, and junior high schools in the nearby town of Roosevelt, Utah. My mother taught briefly before dedicating her life to the rearing of myself, my three brothers, and three sisters. She also played violin in local orchestras and volunteered many years with the Girl Scouts. Dad and Mom worked diligently for many years with the Boy and Cub Scouts, teaching scouting values, leading district camps. Their lives have been filled with instilling young boys and girls with hope in a world where they could make a difference.
I attended elementary in the little community of Neola, Utah, where dedicated public school teachers endeavored each day to teach us critical life skills, usually doing very well in their efforts. The librarian in that little country school was a kind, wise, mentor, who ensured that each child was safe and nurtured every day. Well written, superbly illustrated, books in rhyme, which I found in that little school library, kindled the fire my parents had ignited within me of reading, writing, and illustrating.
Life on the farm taught me the importance of fine work, the importance of self, family, and neighbors to accomplish any task, great or small, and an appreciation for the fragility, resilience, and beauty of nature.
I served with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on a mission in South Africa; where I saw the disparity of cultures at odds and the hope of that conflict being resolved; where I saw poverty and wealth and the troubles inherent when resources and opportunities are not equally distributed; and hope in the youth in making the changes necessary for people to thrive together.
My hope in youth everywhere to make wonderful changes for the better is increased with each child I meet. I see their potential to evaluate present and past things, discarding old ideas which limited life and holding on to what is good, helpful, and uplifting. I realize that some may discard the good and hold onto detrimental things, but I have hope that most will choose well if we take the time to teach them and learn from them.
Each generation has the opportunity and obligation to evaluate and critique the values and actions of their parents, then discard what is wrong and hold on to all that is good and true. Each generation has the opportunity and obligation to consider and learn from the evaluation and critique of their children, then give up what is needed and grasp what is grand and new.
With a biology degree from Utah State University, including three years at the University of Utah, I’ve studied birds in the Uinta Mountains, cactus and prairie dogs in the Uinta Basin, native fish in southeastern Utah, marbled murrelets in the Pacific Northwest and western sandpipers on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska.
I have also studied the remote wildlands of Utah and worked to preserve them for future generations in ways which will allow all to partake of their beauty and wonder.
I appreciate that wise persons set aside for all people marvelous places such as Arches and Zion’s National Parks, keeping them from becoming secluded resorts and dwelling places for wealthy people to reside behind fences. I appreciate the tremendous compromise and sacrifice of the locals who relinquished their exclusive use of these areas so that future generations could be inspired by God’s grand artistry and nature’s beautiful diversity.
Inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s, has redirected the course of my life in many ways. I appreciate modern medicine and the need for everyone to have access to it. The biologic which allows me to fully pursue life, is nearly $23,000 per monthly shot! Many necessary prescriptions are only available by limited charity programs or expensive insurance. The outrageous pricing of prescription drugs needs to be curtailed. Insurance, which is also ludicrously priced, needs to be eliminated and replaced by a system which allows everyone equal access to healthcare. If we work together, I believe we can create such a system.
I write song-rhymes to teach, inspire, and uplift children and families; individuals; and anyone seeking or lonely, longing for hope, understanding, and companionship. I meticulously create them in precise rhyme, carefully teaching about animals and teaching life lessons. I create tunes for each song and illustrate them for children. I then place them on my websites, lettersbylaird.com , cuddlingcarolsbylaird.com , and lairdslantern.us , where anyone can access them for free.
For a year I comforted infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Primary Children’s Hospital, calming their fears as I sang my lullabies to them, rocking them to sleep in my arms. These tiny infants with all their potential, so recently arrived from another realm, are the hope in what the future may hold. A future of love and kindness, if we will choose it.
I assist kindergartners at Elementary Schools, teaching them to read and write; encouraging them to utilize words to learn all good and wise things that people have learned; encouraging them to utilize words to tell others all good and wise things that they have learned; encouraging them to carefully utilize meaningful words to express joy, sadness, anger, love, frustration, and hope; encouraging them to express these emotions in poetic, rhyming verse – written, spoken, and in song to notes of their own composition!
I observe children’s kindness and care for each other. When a child needs something, other children immediately respond to meet their need.
Our inherent kindness can be stifled by experience or training.
Tragically, we often stifle children’s kindness, as we prohibit them from helping each other and when we make everything a competition and a comparison to others.
It has been my observation in life that it is the inherent nature of everyone to care about and help each other. Anything otherwise has to be taught with lies that cause fear, hatred, and violence. I see infants empathizing with each other’s cries and joining with each other’s smiles and laughter. I see kindergartners helping each other to learn, joining together in play, sympathizing with sadness and sorrow, delighting with each others accomplishments, filling the lives of all near them with kindness, charity, love, and hope.
Wisdom is a choice! Wisdom is not just a consequence of age or experience. Some live an entire lifetime of experience and never acquire wisdom. Some arrive as infants already possessing great perspective and wonderful wisdom. I choose to constantly search for truth and the wisdom to apply it well.
In a world where both hatred and love exist, I prefer to promote love and kindness in all I do. Even in politics, a place where things are either accomplished through cloaked deception or by carefully decided compromise, I choose honesty, love and compassion to make the human connections to accomplish the great things together.
Even at times when some choose to hate their neighbor, many still choose kindness. I choose kindness! And I, with the innocence of a child, and the wisdom of experience, still hope happiness for everyone today and each day.
As I campaign to become your US Senator, I often feel like “Mr Smith,” played by Jimmy Stewart in the classic film. “Mr Smith Goes To Washington.”