Banks County Opinions...

January 31, 2001


Column
By Phillip Sartain
The Banks County News
January 31, 2001


Two halves don't make a whole
There's a theory going around that men and women are different. At first, I thought it was just a rumor. But then I heard about some important scientific evidence to back up the claim.
As I understand it, the reason men and women are different is that they use their brains in different ways. In fact, researchers claim that while men use only one side of their brain, women use both sides. And therein lies the explanation for all the gender discord for all the ages: women have twice the brain power of men.
Initially, I was offended by both the scientific finding and the implication. Although there is no way to measure it, I have been operating under the assumption that I was working at full brain power for over 40 years.
And now someone has come along and decided that, instead, I'm a half-load short of a full bale. I've been operating at distinct disadvantage and no one even bothered to tell me. That's not fair.
Even worse, the obvious implication of running at half-speed is that women, who are running at full throttle, are superior in all matters. What used to be just an assumption is now a scientific fact.
The idea bothered me for a long, long time. I lay awake at night trying to find some way out of this obvious and tragic disparity in brain loads. If I only had half a brain, I'd have to stay up twice as long and work twice as hard just to keep up with women.
But that's impossible. Not only am I married, but I have three daughters. Based on that, I'd have to stay up four times as long just to carry on an intelligent conversation with my family. It can't be done.
In the midst of my worrying, though, I had a brainstorm. (OK, half a brainstorm.) It occurred to me that if I was operating on only one side of my brain, then that meant that I'm totally absolved of a full one-half of all my actions.
It hit me like a bolt of lightning. It's what all men have wanted all their lives- a license to do stupid things without the responsibility for having done them. Science is suddenly a wonderful thing.
Now, instead of apologizing to my wife for some completely atrocious and selfish act of insensitivity on my part, I don't have to say, "I'm sorry, what could I have been thinking?"
Instead, now I can say, "Thinking? Why no, I wasn't thinking at all." And because I have only half a brain, it's the perfect, ironclad defense. I can't be blamed for my behavior because I have a documented 50 percent brain deficiency. From now on, I can get away with murder.
As you can well imagine, my wife is a little suspicious of this whole business. "I think that the researchers who came up with this study were just a bunch of stupid men," she speculated.
I didn't have the heart, or the brain, to tell her she was only half right.
Phillip Bond Sartain is a Gainesville attorney.

 

 

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Column
By Shar Porier
The Banks County News
January 31, 2001

Honorable purpose
My, my, my! It's nice to know so many of you read the opinion page. Such a response to Rochelle Beckstine's column!
When I first read it, I thought, "Whoa, doggies! There's going to be stir over this." Sure enough, all these letters came in.
I can't personally tell others what to do - teach your kids about guns or not; teach them to hunt or not. That's something for each parent to decide.
Dad taught us to shoot at an early age. I may have been 7 or 8 the first time I held a gun. It was a single-shot bolt-action .410. I remember how heavy it felt. What it was like to look down the barrel and sight the bull's-eye of the target.
We'd go to a range once in a while, but mostly we shot at a target he set up for us against the old barn. I enjoyed shooting. Enjoyed the time with my Dad. It was the one time when I wasn't treated like an ("eeeewwwww") girl. With two older brothers, it was hard not to grow up a tomboy.
I was never allowed to shoot alone, and didn't. But, this one day, my oldest brother had left his new BB pistol out. Hmmmmmm...
It was one of those double temptations. First, I was messing with something of his; a strictly forbidden act risking bodily harm. And second, a chance to shoot by myself.
"Hey, it was just a BB gun," I thought. "Can't hurt anything."
That is, unless my brother caught me. Well, I loaded a few BBs and looked for something to shoot at. The target I chose, which to this day I will never understand why, was a starling perched about 30 feet away.
I took aim and fired. The bird fell. It hit the ground. It didn't move. Neither did I. My feet were concrete. My arms were paralyzed. My stomach, a knot. I couldn't breath. My heart, my heart...It was as as if I had shot myself.
I looked up at the blue sky and thought, "God's gonna get me for this." I expected to be struck by lightning or the earth open beneath my feet and swallow me. The way I felt, I wish it had.
In a foggy daze of tears, I found myself standing over the poor bird. I picked it up. It lay limp, still, and warm in the palm of my hand. The feeling I had was indescribable. Beyond grief, beyond shame. I knew how ignorant, how foolish I had been. How I had failed to heed Dad's first rule: Don't shoot at anything without honorable purpose.
Excuses started pouring into my mind. I didn't really think I would hit it. It was just a starling. No one knows you did it. But, someone did know what I had done. Me. And no excuse could take away the pain and guilt that overcame me.
When I came of age to go hunting with Dad, I declined. I couldn't take another helpless life, ever. It was a long time before I could even pick up a gun.
Over the years, I heard friends talk about similar experiences. How they, too, had been affected to their soul at their first "kill." What it meant and how it felt to take a life. I wondered if it was some sort of rite of passage that many kids encounter on the road to maturity. For most, that one instant in time made a life decision against hunting, against killing.
I still enjoy a little target practice now and again with my single-shot bolt-action .410. And I'm glad I learned the proper use of and respect for firearms. Especially up here in the "wilds" where danger can lie a step away. I have a friend who is grateful for my ability. One shot saved her from the nasty bite of a timber rattler.
Life's journey can take many twists that have many lessons... important, perhaps even unbecoming, lessons to be learned, and at the time the objectives may not be clear. Inevitably, there will come a time in life when honorable purpose will call upon just such knowledge.
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.


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