By: Virgil Adams
December 15, 2004
Sticking to my story for now
Of course President Bush appointed and will appoint Cabinet and staff members who agree with his polices.
Not to worry, though. He’ll hear plenty of opposing viewpoints, and get plenty of flack, from the media, the opposition party, voters who liked the other guy, and a lot of “citizens” who didn’t bother to vote for either candidate. (Shame on you non-voters; you’ve forfeited your right to complain.)
Speaking of complaints, have you heard the one targeting the President’s choice for Secretary of State? That’s the usual one: She will agree with and be a rubber stamp for Bush. I can understand that.
But what about this one? She’ll never work out because she is a woman a black woman, at that.
Condolezza Rice was playing the piano at age 4, and can play Bach and Beethoven today. She entered college at age 15, graduated magna cum laude, earned her master’s degree from Notre Dame, and got her doctorate in international studies at the University of Denver. She joined the Stanford University faculty in 1981, at age 27, and ten years later became provost at Stanford. She has been a dedicated public servant for two decades. And apparently she agrees with her boss’s policies.
Nothing wrong with President Bush asking people like that to serve in his administration.
What you bet that some of those complaining about her being a black woman never voted, never finished high school, never heard of Bach and Beethoven, wonder who Magna Cum Laude is, and what’s a provost?
* * *
Now, let me take the other side. I have that reputation. Always agreeing, then flip-flopping and disagreeing. Sure, I lose a lot of arguments. That’s the way I learn.
I feel sorry for folks who are set in their ways. “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.” How sad. You just think you are sticking to your story. Your story ain’t sticking to you; it’s done run off and left you.
The story ain’t over, folks. It’s ongoing. Everything changes. You change. I change. We all change.
For one thing, we are a day older today than we were yesterday. (It’s questionable whether we are smarter.) And some folks who were here yesterday ain’t here today. They’ve transferred.
Even the weather changes, and if we don’t change with it, adjust to it, we’d die. (Better check the furnace and get out your long johns. Summer is over for a season.)
Change, change the constancy of change.
Some folks say that God never changes; that He is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever. I’m not comfortable arguing with that. I have not yet received his final Word. He’s still working on me. And I hope on you, too.
But hey, ain’t no use arguing with a religious fanatic who’s sticking to whatever story he happens to believe at the moment. Same goes for the science fanatic who can’t see beyond the microbes in his petri dish. One can’t see any good at all in Science. The other can’t see any good at all in Faith. How sad.
Look, God may not have changed (OK, I should not have said “may not.”), but His Creation sure has. The yellow maple lead that fell at my feet this morning was green as grass and hanging on a limb a couple of months ago. Volcanoes erupt and islands rise up out of the sea. And didn’t I read somewhere that if we pray, persevere and wait on God, He’ll change His Mind about meeting some of our needs? (I’m sure somebody will straighten me out on that.)
Oh, well. Although I’m a frustrated preacher, I didn’t mean to preach. If I were a real preacher, I’d tell the flock that there doesn’t have to be a conflict between science and religion. Both are at work in the world, and it seems to me they can come together and work for a better world instead of dividing the world.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it until one of us changes. And while I was writing that sentence, both my story and I changed. I’ve set foot on a new journey. No moss growing under my piggies. Nothing dull or stale about me. (I wish.)
See? I don’t know anything for sure anymore. I learned that the hard way. I learned some things that were not so, and I got burned.
OK, President Bush, I’m taking the other side. Better appoint some Cabinet and staff members who disagree with your policies. They may know something you don’t. They may have made some mistakes and learned from them.
In a dictatorship, the straight and narrow is real straight and real narrow, and there’s room for only a few like-minded souls. That can lead to disaster. Adolph Hitler comes to mind.
In a democracy, it doesn’t hurt to widen the road and detour a little bit to let a few pesky rebels come on board. Many a family, business and country have perished because a rigid leader and a handful of “yes” men (and women) were trying to run it.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. For now.
Virgil Adams is former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.
By: Susan Harper
December 15, 2004
A Diamond Under The Tree
Senator Bill Frist, also known as Dr. Bill Frist, is the first practicing physician to have become a U.S. senator in 75 years. And one of the first things he did upon being elected was publish a book called “When Every Moment Counts,” about the threat of bioterrorism. In order to wage an effective defense, he says, we need to maintain and upgrade our public health system.
For many of us, I suspect, the local public health department can be an obscure or invisible presence in the community. We assume that we have one, and that it’s doing whatever it’s supposed to, and that it will go on. Then we get a wake-up call, like this year’s sudden severe shortage of flu vaccine, and we see hundreds of people standing in line for flu shots at the one place where the shots are available, and we remember: “Oh, yeah, right the public health department.”
Meanwhile, it’s been there all along, providing a first line of defense for many citizens, whether this means diabetes screening, an AIDS test in strictest confidentiality, prenatal advice and care, or any one of hundreds of different needs.
And because it’s part of a national and even global public health system, it helps gather the statistics that track developing epidemics and other health threats. Here in our area, for example, the public health department is actively working to make sure that our groundwater is not contaminated by septic systems, agricultural runoff, or industrial wastes.
All of this could become vitally important to us in the next few years, if World Health Organization predictions are correct and we experience a global epidemic of “bird flu.” Humans have little or no immunity to bird flu viruses, which have already crossed over from birds to humans. Especially vulnerable are those who work in the poultry business, which is a major agricultural and industrial focus in our area.
The good news is that our national public health system is already at work on a vaccine, and has identified a producer for it. Because we have a network in place, the vaccine can be fanned out across the country efficiently, and because we have our own public health department right here in town, Commerce residents will have immediate access to immunization.
Not all communities are anywhere near this fortunate. Bill Frist notes that “public health offices at the local and state levels have been underfunded and understaffed for years.” Such “benign neglect and underinvestment,” he says, has left us “underprepared” to protect ourselves against the health threats of the 21st century.
The fact that we have our own very good public health department here in Commerce is due to the foresight of our city and county governments, the support of local citizens, and the persistent work of the dedicated volunteers who serve on its board. Their gift to us is like that little box under the Christmas tree, the one you could almost miss seeing, which turns out to contain a diamond.
Susan Harper is director of the Commerce Public Library.