The Jackson Herald
November 5, 2003
Voice of reason silenced?
You know whats wrong with America? Everybodys right.
Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th president of the United States (1963-1969), who coined the phrase The Great Society, admonished the administration, political parties, Congress and the Nation to Come, let us reason together.
Occasionally, the administration, political parties, Congress and the Nation did that. But not anymore. The voice of reason has been silenced. It is dead. And so is compromise.
How long has it been since youve heard a president, vice president, cabinet member, congressman or congresswoman, governor, county commissioner or mayor admit that he or she was wrong?
Was Richard Nixon the last one? Yeah, but he did it under duress.
Oh, you think I am going to say Im wrong? No way! The argument is over and I won.
And once the argument is over, there is no need for further discussion. The issue is settled, set in concrete. What, me change? Heck no!
Why should I reason or compromise with anyone? I know everything there is to know about everything: religion, family values, politics, ethics, war, peace and what you should and should not do in your own bedroom.
A friend told me one time that I know a lot of things that just aint so. But what does he know? Nothing. Me? I am an unadulterated know-it-all. I have a corner of knowledge.
If you think this is a ridiculous scenario, you havent been reading, watching and listening to my reliable sources.
Take any issue you like: The Ten Commandments, abortion, capital punishment, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, celibacy, the economy, taxes, Iraq and what one should and should not do in the privacy of ones own bedroom. Have you ever seen so many editors, TV analysts, radio talk show gurus, TV evangelists and lesser ordinary citizens who think they know the answers to these perplexing questions?
Notice I said think. Im the only lesser ordinary citizen who knows for sure. I just wish all of those ignoramuses out there could see the error of their ways. Itll never happen. Im resigned to the fact that nobody wants to sit down and reason with me much less compromise. And since I am right and you are wrong, Im not interested in sitting down with you.
If its any consolation, were all in the same boat. Can you imagine Rush Limbaugh, Neal Boortz and Sean Hannity admitting that maybe just maybe Bill Clinton had at least one redeeming quality? Can you imagine Jessie Jackson cozying up to George W. Bush? Can you imagine the pope saying birth control is all right and that using condoms is a good idea? Can you imagine Israel and Palestine making peace and not war? Can you imagine an ultra liberal Democrat saying anything good about an ultra conservative Republican? Need I ask the same question of the Republican?
Can you imagine members of The Board of Regents and members of the UGA Foundation meeting at the Varsity for hot dogs and love fest?
Whoa, Virgil! Isnt there something good you can say about anybody? Yes, there is. At least one person very close to me thinks like I do. I told her this is a ridiculous column. She read it and said, It sure is.
I think it is satire. Its been many years since Dr. F.D. Mellon, my English professor, told me what satire is. So I referred to the second greatest book every written to refresh my memory. Satire: a literary (literary?) work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn.
I confess: I dont know everything. And I agree with all of you who are like-minded.
The voice of reason has not been silenced. It is not dead. Neither is compromise. People all over the world are sitting down and reasoning together. They are talking, not arguing. Even if they are arguing, the argument is not over. Change, change the constancy of change. All of us can change for the better. For the sake of our country.
This quote from Margaret Mead seems an appropriate way to end this ridiculous (but serious) satirical epistle. Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.:
Virgil Adams is a former owner-editor of The Jackson Herald.
Comments From The O-Zone
By: Oscar Weinmeister
The Jackson Herald
November 5, 2003
Planing For Tough Decisions
If youve been following the news you may know something about the situation in Florida concerning Terri Schiavo, whos been kept alive with a feeding tube since suffering brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped beating. Her husband claims she would prefer to avoid being kept alive artificially, but her parents claim shes not in a persistent vegetative state and that theres a chance she could improve.
When a court order allowed the removal of her feeding tube, the state legislature quickly passed a law, Terris Law, which gave the governor the authority to order reinsertion of the feeding tube. He exercised that authority, and now the question returns to the courts, while the person who inspired the law is kept alive and while the people who love her remain at odds over what is the right thing to do.
I dont know the way out of their dilemma. Ironically enough, in 1990, the Supreme Court said that a person has a right to die if clear and convincing evidence can be brought to show that death is that persons choice in a given situation such as Schiavos. In Ms. Schiavos case, I dont know if there is evidence to show she would have wanted to live or die. I dont know if shes really in a persistent vegetative state. Im sure there is evidence to support both sides of the issue.
I do know that if she had communicated with her husband and with her parents about her preferences, then the chances that theyd been in this heart-wrenching predicament would have been greatly reduced, and thats the point of this column. A program called Critical Conditions is being administered by BJC Medical Center to help people do two things: appoint people to make health care decisions when they cant, and formally declare what kinds of medical treatment they wish to receive under what conditions.
BJC is administering this program as a community service, and employees are making rounds at local libraries to offer workshops on what kinds of decisions can be made in advance and what kinds of decisions someone can make on someone elses behalf.
Im usually not one for hypotheticals in this kind of context, but what would you want to do if you were brought unconscious to the Emergency Room, and nobody could wake you up for the foreseeable future, but you could be kept alive by machines for 13 or more years? There are different answers to that question, but the important part of your answer is that youre not the only one who knows it.
The same goes for the other side of that equation. If a family member were in a coma, and you were making that persons healthcare decisions, would you know deep down in your heart that you were honoring that persons wishes by choosing to insert or remove a feeding tube?
The next workshop will be at the library in Homer in January, and there will be others, but if you want information about making healthcare related end of life decisions, you can call Angie Watson at BJC Medical Center, or you can visit the Critical Conditions website at www.critical-conditions.org. You can also call 877-633-2433.
Oscar Weinmeister is the assistant administrator of BJC Medical Center. He lives in Commerce.