More Jackson County Opinions...

JULY 7, 2004


Column

By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
July 7, 2004

We have our priorities
I hugged a tree this morning (Sunday, June 27). I kissed a wildflower.
Does that make me some kind of environmental nut?
I hope so.
If you’ve walked only on concrete or asphalt, I wish you could walk where I walked this morning.
If you’ve listened only to rock and roll, hard rock, heavy metal, rap, country or hellfire and damnation sermons — or, for that matter, the classics — I wish you could hear the music and homily I heard today.
I walked in the woods this morning. I practiced the disciplines of solitude, meditation and prayer. I listened to the birds sing. I heard the squirrels and the tree frogs preach.
Then I came home to the Sunday paper.
* * *
He made the front page, close-up of his face, eyes behind colored glasses; another picture at the bottom of the page, riding the shoulders of two young men wearing helmets. The lead story continued on page A12.
He made Page 1 of the Sports Section, too; took up three-fourths of the space. There was a larger picture of him riding the same broad shoulders.
Pages 7, 8, 9 and 10 are a commemorative pullout section. It includes reflections, Moments in Time and testimonials by 10 family members and friends.
Legend, Icon, Champion, Top Dog and other equally high tributes and accolades are scattered throughout the seven pages of praise and worship.
Look, I have nothing against Vince Dooley. I admire the man. I don’t think there’s any doubt he did a good job as football coach and athletic director at the University of Georgia. I wish him well in his retirement.
* * *
Last week, somewhere on campus, an English professor also retired. A math teacher decided to hang it up, voluntarily, after 40 years. A chemistry prof left wondering how many scientists got their inspiration and motivation in one of the many classes he taught.
A faithful and loyal secretary, who worked just as hard as the professors — and got a lot less pay — went home to be with her sick husband and help with the grandkids.
A dedicated janitor worked 40 years cleaning up other people’s messes. Now he can go fishing.
A groundskeeper spent a lifetime making the campus beautiful. Now he can spend more time in his own garden.
A physical plant guy kept a fleet of University vehicles running smoothly for years. Now he can concentrate on keeping his 12-year-old pickup on the road.
These people did their jobs. They served well. They touched many lives.
No, they didn’t draw a crowd. They didn’t make a lot of money for the University or the Athletic Association. They just went about their daily work, often unnoticed and unappreciated.
Looking for stories about them in the media? Good luck.
Sleep well tonight, fellow Georgians. We have our priorities. You judge whether we have them in order.
* * *
I dropped A and D (front page and sports), passed over B, and moved on to C (the Metro section). Read the Vents on page 2. Here’s a sampling:
“Something that really irks me is that adults have such high expectations for teen behavior and such low standards for their own.
“Have you ever noticed that most accusations originally denied by government officials turn out to be true?”
“Small-town living has its benefits. The police log in the local paper can be hilarious.”
My eyes jumped to page 3 and zeroed in on this headline: “Gays, preachers collide at Pride.” (Great headline, no?)
Personally, I don’t think either group has anything to be gay (happy) about or proud of. But I read the story anyway.
Speaking for the gays: Richard Hubbard of Birmingham. “It seems like Christianity and politics are becoming more and more entwined. God is not just the property of Christians.”
Speaking for the preachers: Rev. Matt Bourgalt of Chipley, Fla. The reverend said he felt morally compelled to travel from northern Florida for Pride.
(Wonder how the reverend would feel if gays rained on his parade? I don’t recall a gay or lesbian ever messing or interfering with my life or freedom. I have been friends and acquaintances with scores of preachers, and 95 percent of them are kind and generous and have a positive influence on me. The other five percent? They are a pain — a pushy, my-way-or-no-way pain — in the . . . .)
“We’re Bible-believing Christians, and we’re called to rise up against evil-doers,” said Rev. Bourgalt.
Asked if he believes all people are evil doers, he said he does not. “We’re not all sinners. Christians are Christians, and sinners are sinners.”
Wonder if Rev. Bourgalt ever read The Sermon on the Mount, especially Matthew 7:1-5? Or First John 4:7-22? Or that verse that says we are liars if we say there’s no sin in us?
Why can’t we all just get along and love one another and leave the people-changing business up to God? Some of us believe He’s the only one who can handle it.
We have our priorities. You judge whether we have them in order.
Meanwhile, I think I’ll go for another walk in the woods.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index

Column

By: Susan Harper
The Commerce News
July 7, 2004

The Doctor Is In – Heaven
When Doctor Johnny Rogers quit practicing medicine, my family felt fortunate to be able to turn to Doctor Joe Griffeth. Here was yet another Commerce citizen who was gifted in the healing arts and (perhaps this is the same thing?) in the person-to-person arts. So now, with his passing, we are sad all over again, with our sorrow tempered by how glad we were to have him in our lives.
My medical acquaintance with him resulted from something careless I did on a summer visit to Commerce: I reached out to touch an odd-looking implement in a garden shop I had gone to with my dad, and the thing took a big bite out of my finger. “No problem,” Dad said, wrapping a golf towel around it. “We’ll just take you to Joe’s office.” I pictured bleeding onto someone’s floor tiles for an hour or two, but I was in and out of Dr. Griffeth’s in 15 minutes, and went home with the neatest line of little stitches you ever saw.
The following summer, when I ran into him in church, he asked how the finger had healed up. “Perfectly,” I said. “I can’t even remember which finger it was. And there’s no way to tell – there’s no scar.”
He picked up both of my hands, looked at them for a few seconds, touched one of my fingers, and said, “It was this one.”
“But how can you tell?” I asked.
He gave me the oddest, gentlest smile – I really think now that the whole essence of his healing gift was in that smile – and said, “I just can.”
In the years since, I’ve had the chance to see him in action many times, and I find I have a store of mental pictures of this extraordinary man. I picture him walking up the steps of my parents’ house on a Sunday afternoon, stopping by to check on my mother, who had had the flu. I see him leaning forward at the little counter in his office, whispering into the speaker – I always imagined someone on the other end, straining to hear what he was saying. Diagnoses, prescriptions, instructions, all went inscrutably into the mysterious speaker, and came out as treatment.
But the best treatment of all was in the way he listened to his patients. Doctor Joe never rushed people through their stories; he seemed to regard them as a crucial aspect of the medical exam, as if part of the healing process was catharsis.
Yet he always had time – made time – for his family, his friends, his church. In fact, one of my memories is from church just a few years ago, right after he had retired. One of the choir members fainted so suddenly that I didn’t even realize it; my first knowledge that anything was wrong came from the sight of Doctor Joe racing to the altar rail. I was amazed by how fast he could move; I think he just missed being there in time to catch her.
He caught so many of us, one way or another. I like to think that he’s been caught up himself, now, and that the doctor is in – in heaven, that is.
Susan Harper is director of the Commerce Public Library.


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