Madison County Opinion...

October 17, 2001

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
October 17, 2001

Frankly Speaking

Anarchy of change
America is facing an anarchy of change. Things are changing so rapidly that we are all becoming disoriented. If this uncontrolled and undirected change continues, our culture will be unrecognizable within a few years.
This problem exists on a national and personal level. Two traumatic events, one in the life of our nation, and one in my own life, are indicative of this fact.
Our nation lost its sense of security and safety on September 11, 2001.
On that day, millions of Americans were going about their business exactly as they had for generations. They had little concern for their security. A group of radical Islamic terrorists hijacked four commercial jetliners and slammed them into key buildings. This act of terror killed thousands of Americans along with people from many other nations. The changes this act will have on our nation are yet to be determined, but it is certain that the changes will be long lasting if not permanent.
Last week I was cleaning up my yard, just as I have done for many years. In the past, I paid no attention to the presence of poison ivy. I was immune to its poison. Just as I had always done, I proceeded to cut the vine from around a pecan tree and used my mower to chop it into mulch.
But this time I reacted to the weed. My arms and face broke out in a bright red rash. My left eye swelled shut. I looked like I had lost a prizefight!
Dramatic changes in our lives are leading to disorientation. We have problems setting goals, planning our finances or even choosing a career.
Our personal and national values are being challenged. Soon we will all be asking "who am I and why am I here?"
What we must have is an anchor, a point of reference to which we can turn when life becomes too confusing. We will find that anchor in our history and heritage. The basic relationship between man and God must be reinforced; keeping in mind that the current crisis is the result of misguided religious teachings. The values for which our fighting men have made so many sacrifices must be preserved. The icons that trace our national and regional history must be protected.
If we are to keep some semblance of stability in our society, more of us need to become active in preservation organizations. Whether it be religious, historical or cultural, we must build stable organizations to which we can turn when change becomes too dramatic.
Meanwhile, we must embrace those changes that events make necessary. I will no longer cut poison ivy with a lawn mower. Next time, I will stand as far back as possible and spray it with a good herbicide. Then I will check behind the tree it was growing on to make sure it is not concealing a terrorist!
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at His email address is

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By Rochelle Beckstine
The Madison County Journal
October 17, 2001

A Few Words From Me

Don't forget to give to cancer research
At a time when Americans are opening their pocketbooks to the many victims of the September 11 terrorist attack, cancer awareness month has all but disappeared.
It is now estimated that over 6,000 people lost their lives on September 11 due to terrorists. On the same day, more than 1,500 died due to cancer.
And on September 12, as the fires were put out and the number of missing people grew, 1,500 more people lost their lives to cancer. September 13, flights resumed and flags flew at half mast and 1,500 people died of cancer. Talk radio shows discussed how best to prevent future terrorist attacks on September 14 and 1,500 people died of cancer. September 15, while major networks began organizing for a huge telethon that would feature Julia Roberts, Will Smith and Robin Williams, just to name a few, 1,500 more people died of cancer.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Americans, yet no telethon has been orchestrated by all of the major networks. Forty-three channels aired the special live. Millions of dollars were raised for the victims of the attacks. Can you imagine the boost cancer research would get if similar attention was paid to it? One in four Americans dies of cancer. This year alone 553,400 people are expected to die from cancer. 286,100 of them will be male. 267,300 will be female. It will strike the old and the young indiscriminately. We have never fought a war that has claimed more lives. And we're not winning the struggle.
In 2000, cancer cost the United States $180.2 billion, more than the cost of the terrorist attacks, yet the government is not granting additional funds to cancer research.
According to the American Cancer Society, of the 553,400 deaths in 2001, 172,000 cancer deaths are expected to be caused by tobacco use. 172,000 preventable deaths, yet every year more people become addicted to cigarettes. Networks should use their medium to spread awareness of lung cancer. Get up in people's faces about it. George Clooney should stand in a candlelit room and talk about heroes who did so much before their lives were cut short by a dangerous addiction. Explain the gruesome truth. Make it PG-13 and scare some 13-year-old into thinking twice before experimenting with tobacco.
One-third of the 553,400 deaths will be related to nutrition, physical activity and other lifestyle factors that could also be prevented. Death from skin cancer could also be prevented if everyone would wear sunscreen.
I know a friend of a cousin's of my husband's who was in the World Trade Center on September 11. I know a girl in my sixth grade class who had cancer and who fought it and who won. I think everyone knows someone who has cancer or who had cancer, so why doesn't it get the attention and the funding it deserves? Movies are full of references to cancer and to mothers and fathers and children dying of cancer. Susan Sarandon, Michael Keaton, John Travolta, John Wayne and Mary Louise Parker all died of cancer in a movie. We sit and watch the movie, cry at all of the key moments and then we talk about how great the ending was without a thought to the lives that are truly affected by the disease. Michael Landon. Eva Peron. Linda McCartney. Katy Cusack. Joan Hackett. Carl Perkins. James Baldwin. Susan Strasberg. Gilda Radner. Dizzy Gillespie. Madeline Kahn.
In the month of October, while our country wages a war against terrorism, why don't we declare a war on cancer? Let's collect our nickels and dimes and quarters and send them to the American Cancer Society. As a country, let's try to give up smoking. We can eliminate second-hand smoke. Wear sunscreen. Exercise. Eat right. Get regular checkups so that cancer can be detected early and treated. All of these things can help us win the war with cancer.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.
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