Madison County News

May 15, 2008

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Jefferson, Georgia 30549


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By Zach Mitcham

To enter the world of reading
Some want the easy paperback in one hand. They recline on a sofa with the light-weight novel of romance or murder — or some mixture of the two — transporting them from dull den to detective’s eyes.
Some want only the classics, feeling as though they must sponge up each line of the Western Canon. They gaze only upon what has stood the test of time.
Some seek out the new greats, exploring what upstart writer will carry the spark of a Cormac McCarthy, an Annie Proulx, a Richard Price.
Some want to know about black holes, the fact that time can actually bend, the possibilities of life on other planets. They want to know about the oceans, the oily animals beneath those waves, the volcanoes that spew out the earth’s hot blood. They want to understand tornadoes and poisonous snakes that wade through weeds.
Some want to know what Obama or McCain really think, what the Bush Administration discussed as it prepared for the war in Iraq. We see the daily news, but books offer a more detailed account of how these newsmakers think.
Some want to know what John Adams wrote to his wife, how Napoleon’s men lost their toes, then their lives in the cold of Russia. The realist has little time for fiction, though contemplating the days long gone is an act of imagination, too.
Some want the self-help guide to weight loss, to home improvements, to identifying the trees on their road. Others want technical help for desktop publishing or managing their new hot dog hut.
Some see Curious George ring the fire bell when he wasn’t supposed to, see the pop up books with friendly grizzlies, see the silly hats of Dr. Seuss.
Some want crossword puzzles and word games — pleasant escapes for travel and waiting rooms. Some want a book of jokes. Some want the book of Job.
Some write our books, seeing their names on the shelves. They pour something out from inside, embracing that “negative capability,” the act of plowing forward despite the self doubt, the real potential for failure. Who hasn’t stared at a blank page and felt that powerful nothing staring back? To complete the book, well, that is a journey few make.
But some just feel the weight of the books on their back, waiting for a moment to sling down those shackles and run to freedom, away from school, away from responsibility. Of course, we’ve all felt that at some point, especially at this time of year, when school ends.
But it’s good to come back.
However, some never do. They choose never to notice books at all. They feel it’s a world not worth exploring, not rich with possibility, not related to their own breathing in and out.
Our literacy rates are important, not just so kids can score well on tests and so our community can have a solid work force in years to come. Yes, those things matter, but you want a kid to read, so he or she can enjoy a good part of life and can recognize the value in constant learning — how even an elderly person with a healthy mindset still considers himself a student of sorts.
So it’s encouraging that we have people in our community who try to help youngsters see the value of books. The Rotary Club is trying to do just that right now. (See the front page story). We also have plenty of people in our school system working hard each day to drive these points home to kids. And take note of all the hard work the Madison County Library does in trying to encourage local youth to read.
They all should be supported in their efforts.
That beautiful world of words has so much to do with all of us, whether we choose to see it or not. It’s a vast universe and worth taking the time to explore.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.

By Frank Gillispie

‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’
Several of you have contacted me about my opinion on private property rights. My answer will probably not make any of you happy because I find myself coming down solidly on both sides.
The American Declaration of Independence, which I encourage each of you to read again in preparation for the upcoming holiday, sets the rules for individual rights. It says: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men (and women) are created equal, and are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
I believe that the right to be secure in our persons and our property is a part of these unalienable rights given to us by the creator. But that right is granted equally to each of us. The problem comes when the exercise of these rights by one individual causes harm or limit to the same right for others.
The Declaration continues: To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. In other words, when a dispute over property rights arises between neighbors, it is the job of government to draw the line between the two so that each is given the greatest possible freedom.
So let me make it clear. I believe that every person has the right to use their private property in any way they see fit so long as they do not harm the property rights of their neighbors. This applies to all other actions a free people decide to take. But the truth is that your right to swing your fist stops six inches from the point of my nose!
Many of our citizens are from a rural background where everyone had plenty of room to do as they please without damaging their neighbors. And I wish it could remain that way. Unfortunately it has not. As the population grows, people are forced to live closer and closer to each other. And as this closeness continues to increase, the chances of these conflicts of rights occurring also increase. And as they do so, the necessity of government to set rules to protect us from each other also grows.
Now, I have always believed that any rules that limit our freedoms should be limited to what is necessary. Obviously, rules that apply to highly concentrated populations are not necessary in more rural settings. Thus it makes sense to me that such rules should be made applicable only in areas where we are stepping on each other’s toes. But a court has already found that any such rules must apply to all citizens.
It does not matter to the law how much room you have. If you live on a fifth acre tract and wish to have several inoperative vehicles on your property that you plan to salvage for parts to keep other vehicles in operation, or you are using them as storage sheds, then I don’t see where government, or your distant neighbors, should have anything to say about it. But if you leave these same vehicles parked next to the property line in a crowded subdivision where they create an eyesore to your neighbors, or creates a dangerous play area for children, then I can see the need for rules to safeguard the community.
Finally, there is a rule that is contained in all the world’s religions and philosophies that would, if practiced by all of us, solve the problem. I am speaking of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If you want your neighbors to respect your property rights, you must respect theirs in return.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is His website can be accessed at


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