More Jackson County Opinions...

May 29, 2002


Column
By: Rochelle Beckstein
The Jackson Herald
May 29, 2002

I’m a person, too
Test Taking Strategy #3: In a True/False question, if the word “all” or “none” is used, assume the answer is false.
I learned test taking strategy #3 in first grade. It helped me to succeed on true/false tests for 15 years, but it didn’t take me that long to figure out that that same strategy could be used in life.
All women can’t drive. Not true.
No man likes to shop. Not true.
Football jocks can’t make good grades. False.
All reporters are sensationalists. Again, not true.
If I were talking about static simplistic characters, all of these statements could be true. (And suitable for minor roles opposite real people.)
Generalizations like these rarely hold up under the microscope.
I’m a reporter. But I’m also a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter and a friend. I spend my free time sewing clothes for my daughter and reading popular fiction. I get up early in the morning because I can’t sleep past dawn. I added a fish pond to my backyard because I like the sound of running water. I still believe every tall tale my father tells me even though he’s been telling them to me for 22 years. I slow to 10 miles per hour when I see anything as big as a butterfly near the side of the road. I’ve never stolen anything in my life, never smoked and I rarely drink alcohol. In fact I wouldn’t know how to break the law. A reporter is not the sum of who I am.
I enjoy reporting good news. I have pride in my country and my state and it makes me happy when good things happen in my area of the world. I like high student test scores and successful building campaigns. But the bad must be reported with the good. If the bad is covered up, there would be few citizens’ improvement projects or petitions circulated to have stop signs placed at dangerous intersections. The news must be printed-all of it. There should never be an “off the record” comment. If you don’t want it printed, then don’t say it during a public meeting. It’s that simple. Not printing a comment because it’s proceeded by “This is off the record” is dishonest on my part. And I’m not going to become the reporter who picks and chooses what to report and what not to report. It’s all news.
As a profession, reporters are ranked below lawyers on the likeability scale, but we’re paid considerably less. We don’t do it for the money. We don’t do it for the adulation of our reading public. We do it because we believe everyone has the freedom to know the truth just as they have the freedom to own property. It’s an American right if not a human right.
And while I’m proud to report the news, I refuse to be lumped into a category of “all” reporters. I don’t deserve to be treated like I scour with vultures looking to feast on dead carcasses. Dramatic and comedic television shows have portrayed reporters as being the lowest of the low for so long that people believe it. We thrust tape recorders at widows and orphans, distort facts to sell papers and create the news if there is nothing sensational enough to report. Look around. That’s just not true.
I do my job and I do it well, but I can always use constructive criticism. Problems with my writing? Send me a note. Problems with society’s perception of a reporter? Take it somewhere else.
Rochelle Beckstine is a reporter with MainStreet Newspapers.

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Column
By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
May 29, 2002

Unhappy with what we’ve got
Have you noticed that more and more Americans are unhappy with what they’ve got? They want a better job, higher pay, lower taxes, a bigger house, a more expensive car, smarter kids, fancier clothes, ad infinitum.
But those wants pale in comparison to their No. 1 want. You might call it an obsession. More than anything in the world, they want a new body. Unhappy with the one God gave ‘em, they’ll go to any extreme to change it. Even risk death. (See Rochelle Beckstine’s column, “Tanning is for dummies,” The Jackson Herald, May 15.)
Some white folks want to be darker. Some dark folks want to be whiter.
You will be happy to know, dear friends, that this insatiable desire for bodily transformation knows no age, gender or racial barrier. We all are caught up in it. Including me. Why do you think I walk four miles a day and eat half as much fat as I want? Ninety-five percent of all Americans are on some kind of diet—off and on, up and down. Nobody’s happy with the way they are.
It’s all about slim, trim and—for some—sex appeal. It’s all about abs, hips, thighs—and more.
Folks with abdomens the size of beach balls want flat stomachs with muscles resembling old fashion washboards. (Well now, that’s not quite true of everybody. A few good ol’ boy, redneck Bubbas are proud of their beach ball bellies; they are their claims to fame and their personal IDs.)
Folks with big hips want little hips. Folks with thick thighs want thin thighs.
Some folks have rears that look like two raccoons fightin’ in a croaker sack. Their wish is for buns of steel.
Nobody’s happy with the body they’ve got. Especially women who want more bust for their money. Apparently, they think enhancement is the way to enchantment.
Ah, the wonder of it all! If I had invested in that bra brand at first liftoff, I’d be a wealthy man by now.
No, fellows, I’m not letting you off the hook. You have your little enhancement gimmicks, too. If you can afford it, you work out in gyms. If you are less affluent, you have all kinds of exercise contraptions in the basement. Some of you are suckers for steroids. And if Viagra isn’t an enhancement gimmick, what is it?
I guess all of us are trying to slow down the aging process. Oh, the time, trouble, money and pain that we are investing in the effort.
And nothing works. We are a day older today than we were yesterday, and tomorrow we’ll be another day older—and several more dollars in debt. If you can reverse or delay that process, raise your hand. I want to be your agent.
But if we could just look younger! Wouldn’t that be great?
In 1996, the editors of Prevention Magazine came out with a little booklet entitled “150 Secrets to Erase the Signs of Aging.” I know a lady who tried all 150 of them, all to no avail.
Whoever said death and taxes are the only sure things was wrong. He should have said death, taxes and wrinkles.
Wrinkles, like fat, have a way of slipping up on you. I’ve told you how to get rid of fat—double the exercise and cut the food in half.
You can’t get rid of wrinkles. Oh, you can mask them—for a little while. But you’ll spend a fortune on creams, lotions, pastes, pills and various, sundry and assorted cosmetics. Some of you, if you have the wherewithal to do it, can make regular visits to the spa to have your wrinkles rubbed away.
They come back.
If you have any money left, there’s Botox. For about one thousand bucks you can have this poison shot into your wrinkles, and they will disappear—for about three months. During this time you will be without facial expression. You won’t even be able to smile about your new, younger look. (Tanning isn’t the only thing for dummies, Rochelle.)
Botox is made of botulin. Botulin is a toxin that is the direct cause of botulism. Botulism causes food poisoning, which can kill you.
Ain’t nobody gonna shoot none of that stuff into my wrinkles. My mama didn’t raise no fool.
Anyway, some of us have reached the age and stage where we no longer worry about wrinkles. You younguns stick around; you’ll get there sooner than you think.
To tell the truth, some of us old geezers are proud of our wrinkles. They are evidence of a long life well lived. And we don’t want any undertaker messing with ‘em when we die. Death is that time in life (yes, life) when we no longer need—or desire—to fake it.
I guess that’s the common denominator. We are all going to die someday. On the way there, which is more important: to have what we want, or to want what we have?
I believe my best self is myself. I believe your best self is yourself. So why can’t we love ourselves, and each other—anyhow?
Why are we so unhappy with what we’ve got?
Virgil Adams is a former editor and owner of the Jackson Herald.


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