More Jackson County Opinions...

OCTOBER 27, 2004


Column

By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
October 27, 2004

Politics: hazardous to your health
I have little hope that this epistle will heal the rift between far-left liberals and far-right conservatives, vis-a-vis Democrats and Republicans.
The late Lyndon Baines Johnson’s plea, “come let us reason together,” falls on deaf ears today. Reason is on life support. Compromise is dead.
Civility? What’s that?
We are in deep trouble, folks. Be that as it may, as one of the five or six moderates left on earth, I must try to save us. (Oh how I wish I could!)
One great hope is Tuesday’s election. If we don’t get behind the winner - whoever he is - close ranks, come together, stand up for America and stop fighting among ourselves, we are doomed. United we stand! Divided we fall.
If we are to bring peace to the world, we must first be at peace with each other and ourselves. Then, for starters, we can bring peace to America. If parents and grandparents are to bring civility to our children and grandchildren, we must return to civility ourselves. In the current nasty, ugly, bickering, back-stabbing, mudslinging political atmosphere, where are the role models?
In a word, we need to quit fighting among ourselves and realize that there is some good in the worst of us and some bad in the best of us - even in Democrats and Republicans - and that we can learn from each other.
But that takes compromise, and compromise is dead. Maybe we can resurrect it after the election. It’ll happen when everybody admits he does not know everything and is not always right. If liberals understand that conservatives have some good ideas, and if conservatives understand that liberals have some good ideas, that will help. Each gives a little. Each takes a little. And lo and behold, compromise is alive and well!.
What triggered this tirade were my September 22nd column (Flip-flopping and standing firm) and the response I got. I wrote that “compromise and appeasement are not one and the same.”
An old fishing buddy responded, “Ain’t a nickel’s worth of difference in ‘em.”
If my friend owned a dictionary, he could look up those words. But since he doesn’t, and probably wouldn’t refer to it if he did, let me help.
Appease: “to give in to the demands of.” (Anybody remember Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of England from 1937 to 1940, who appeased Nazi German in the hopes that it would achieve “peace for our time?”
“The road of appeasement is not the road to peace, but is surrender on the installment plan.” - The New York Times.
Compromise: “To settle (a dispute) by agreeing that each contestant will give up a part of what he demands; come to terms about.”
“The essence of politics is compromise.” - Thomas Babington Macaulay. That old English historian (1800-1859) learned nearly 200 years ago what the current generation doesn’t understand to this day.
Gayle White, in a front-page story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday, October 10, details just how serious the political rift has become in the absence of compromise and civility. The headline: “Talking politics can be hazardous.” I would add three words: “to your health.”
“For many ordinary voters the presidential race is a topic too hot to touch,” Ms. White wrote: “When differences do arise - whether at a bar, a funeral, or on I-85 - the results can range from uncomfortable to downright ugly.
“The gully between supporters of the two candidates separates friends and neighbors, kith and kin,” she added.
She interviewed several voters, and here is what some of them said about the ugly situation:
“In my own family, politics has become a testy subject best touched on most gingerly,” said Todd Frary of Woodstock. “We’ve all learned to self-censor.” (Good for them! When compromise and civility are no where to be found, that is the best policy.)
“It is an unspoken rule that we do not discuss politics. That way, we are able to maintain our friendships,” said Ed Sullivan of his small North Georgia church. (Nice going, church members. These days, it’s tough separating religion and politics.)
Mike Ramondt, project manager for a heating and air conditioning firm in Cumming, said his boss prohibits political chatter on the job. “Personal attacks create rancor and ill will among the staff.”
Paul Allen, a Norcross engineer, said this: “The political environment is the most sensitive I’ve seen since the Vietnam era.” Allen expresses his opinions “only in the comfort of my own home.”
A University of North Carolina student was treated at a hospital after a post-debate discussion deteriorated into a fistfight. The question that caused the outburst? Who would Jesus vote for?
Speaking of debate, did you see these recent Vents in the AJC?
“Instead of debates, I suggest lie detector tests.”
“Mama always said never believe a man on a first date. I say never believe a man on a 1st, 2nd or 3rd debate.”
Naturally, each side blames the other for the tension. And both sides are miles apart. Woe is the world.
Anne Oliver, founder of an Atlanta etiquette and finishing school for adults, explains how it ought to be - and could be. “A discussion should be an exchange of opinions rather than a campaign effort to win another over to your side. Civility requires you to listen to another’s opinion with respect, and expect them to listen to you.”
That’s great, Ms. Oliver, but . . . .
Wherefore art thou, Compromise?
Wherefore art thou, oh Civility?
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index

Column

By: Susan Harper
The Commerce News
October 27, 2004

Goodbye To A Great Lady
Commerce lost one of its Great Ladies last week when Mrs. Annie Mae Cochran died at the age of 97. I was privileged to say a few words at her funeral, and the first thing I said was that the real privilege was to have known this extraordinary woman.
Her many friends and admirers always describe her as a lady. We seem to use that one simple word to express her complex duality, for Miss Annie Mae was an intense and highly intelligent woman with strong beliefs and the courage of her convictions, and at the same time a woman of truly unshakable courtesy. So she could maintain her own priorities and still honor yours, even if yours were quite different. Plenty of people say, “I hear you.” Miss Annie Mae did hear you. And you needed to think about what you were saying, because she’d remember every word of it.
I knew her first as a colleague at the library, where she was an extremely capable staff member for more than 14 years, until she retired at the age of 89. How characteristic of her to have started a new career in her 70s, an age when most people have been retired for a while and plan to stay that way.
She was ahead of her time, always – a forward-looking woman from a family which placed such a premium on education that she was sent to boarding school and to college in an era when both of these were rare for anyone and almost unheard-of for African American girls.
It was during her college years that she met her husband, Grogan, and they married in 1930 and came to Commerce, where they joined Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church. In the ensuing 74 years, she was a devoted wife, a mother of five children, an active member of the PTA, a regional representative to the National Congress of Parents and Teachers, the local chairman of the March of Dimes and the Easter Seal Society, and a volunteer for the Heart Fund. She was named Citizen of the Year three times – most recently in 2000.
Nor is that all. In her church, she was active in the WMU for 40 years, president of the Usher Board for 33 years, and treasurer of the Mission Fund. She held the Northwest Baptist Association's Award for Dedicated Service.
And she did all of this while maintaining a career that spanned seven decades and included years at the telephone company, the middle school, and the library – and while always looking as if she had just stepped out of a Paris fashion show.
Annie Mae Cochran didn’t care what color you were, or what age. She had no interest in social position. She cared whether you did the right thing, period. Her contributions to the Commerce community are incalculable. She did everything she could, and did it to the best of her ability, and enjoyed it too. And maybe that’s the very definition of a great lady.
Susan Harper is director of the Commerce Public Library.


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