Madison County Opinion...

SEPTEMBER 17, 2003


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
September 17, 2003

Frankly Speaking

A culture set on avoiding responsibility
Evidence of our lack of responsibility continues to pile up. We are now so intent in avoiding responsibility for our actions and decisions that we throw away vast amounts of valuable resources rather than take proper care of them.
We create then throw away millions of tons of fiber, metal and glass in the form of packaging. Trees are cut down, metal ores are ripped from the earth and vast amounts of energy are used to produce boxes, cans and jars to contain food, cosmetics, toys and home and office supplies. More resources are consumed to make books, newspapers and magazines. All this material is used once and thrown out.
In far too many cases, we fail to dispose of these materials in a responsible manner. Ton after ton of cans, boxes and wrappers are tossed out car windows onto road sides and into other people’s yards. Many of us seek out isolated areas where we can dump our trash by the bag. Usually, these dumps are on other people’s property. From little-traveled back roads to newly constructed subdivision streets, we throw our trash out with total disregard to the problems we create for the landowners.
It is not just trash that we toss aside. Millions of unwanted babies are dumped into the abortionist disposal units ever year. Millions of unwanted parents are dumped in nursing homes. Other millions of people with reduced capacity due to mental illness or addiction are dumped on the streets and join the ranks of the homeless.
If it is inconvenient, we throw it out. If some group decides to attack our heritage for political reasons, we make no effort to defend the work of our ancestors.We simply turn our backs on our history and walk away from the most valuable elements of our culture.
What will become of us when we are buried in trash? What will life be like when our environment is swamped in litter? How many artists, scientist, skilled mechanics and garbage truck drivers are we loosing to the abortionist? How will our lives be affected when our families ripped asunder?
We are one and the same as the world in which we live. When we trash that world, we become the very trash we are creating and discarding. When we toss out valuable material and people, we are tossing out our own value. When we fill our world with trash, we become trash.
If we continue in the direction we are going, the greatest nation on earth will soon be reduced to a pile of garbage.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address is frankg@mcga.net

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Column
By Zach Mitchams
The Madison County Journal
September 17, 2003

In the Meantime

The scene of a first pet experience
(Editor’s note: In writing this, I am relinquishing any future claim to macho-manhood. I am doing the unthinkable...I am writing a flowery cat column — during football season!)

First, let’s set the stage.
(Enter Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” you know the beautiful, sad song at the end of the movie “Platoon,” also heard in “The Elephant Man.”)
The scene: A black cat peeks from behind the door, then walks toward the camera, her belly a loose tuft of swaying fur, evidence of previous victory.
But her belly cannot betray her mission. For all we know, by the sorrow in her sound, she has not eaten in days, weeks.
(Enter the voice of the man who narrates all those movie trailers. You know that low, husky voice, the one who always starts, “In a house, not so far away, with a family, not so different than yours, lived a cat with a haunting secret...)
Cough, scratch, “quiet please”....
The narrator begins: “In a county known as Madison, in a home, where country quiet was broken only by the bellow of cows, lived a man, who took not only a wife, but a cat...”
The camera pans from the golden, green leaves of the almost perfectly cylindrical oak, then across the road, down to the grass that needs mowing yet again, up the porch steps and by the old wooden chairs where a previous generation watched the dust kick up from countless comings and goings, where an old man sang gospels in a deep, deep voice I’m told I would have loved, and into the old farm home, where a man of 30 stands by the cupboard, his wrinkled T-shirt of a decade stained by more than one dining accident, the corner of his mouth crusted with peanut butter, as he gives a final stab of the knife into the empty jar of Jif, then gives up, before remembering the ham in the refrigerator.
There is a pitter-patter of small feet on the wooden floor.
Enter Owen, a female cat, 14 going on 72 (cat years.)
“Meow.”
And it begins like this. But we all know the “meow” is open to interpretation.
And this meow is an introduction. She tells of herself, her fondness for her companion of many years (my wife), the thrill of attacking a backpack or a piece of string, the love of water from a faucet, of jazz on a boombox, of a good hiding place, particularly in the mornings when evil things such as eardrops, cages and veterinarians could conspire against her. She speaks in a hush about the giant that stomps his feet outside the house when it rains. She shows how she runs, low, low, not low enough, straight under the sofa when the giant begins to rumble.
She wonders why the new person in the house (me) speaks to her in such a ridiculous, high-pitched voice. But at least the new one in the house is quicker with the cheese, with the ham, with the creamer, than the wiser, more responsible one. And he does not stick drops in ears or poke or prod or do other unpleasant things that are somehow “for your own good.”
“Meow.”
And this one is the sad sound. Owen seeks the treat.
But in the pantry, human hands are trying to fill a human mouth with whatever will make the animal sound in the belly go away.
So the sadness must be turned up. And it certainly is. Such is the skill. And I can almost hear the strings rise in Barber’s beautiful, sad melody as I try to ignore the pleas.
And Owen asks again, again, and again.
And who am I to say no?
As I pat her head and give her a gift, I think about how I could have some struggles one day as a father, how I’ll have to show tough love at times, and not just give in so easily.
Later, my wife and I laugh as Owen kicks at my backpack on the floor, fighting and playing, then turns, startled to see the two of us watching her.
She sprints off toward the living room, her embarrassment, we agree, seems as real as any human’s.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.


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