Even an ‘icon’ needs our prayers and support

January 16, 2009 

The moment that Barack Obama was declared the winner of the presidential elections on the evening of November 4, 2008, he instantly became a global icon. Since then, commemorative items bearing his likeness have been flying off the shelf in celebration of this historic moment. A nation that has for centuries wrestled with the doctrine of white supremacy has done something that would have been considered highly unlikely just a few decades ago — elect a man of African-American descent to the highest office in the land.

We should be cautious, however, in not hailing Obama as some kind of “savior” who will magically transform this nation by himself. It took a coalition of voters to get him in and it will take us, the entire nation, to help him straighten out the mess that we are in. There is always a danger when you elevate someone to iconic status that you downplay his weaknesses and forget the fact that he is also human.

Once Obama’s honeymoon is over and it has really sunk I that we have a black president, he will have to face the huge challenges ahead: an economy in crisis, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the war between Hamas and Israel; these are just the most pressing issues on the table now for now. He will quickly realize that saying one thing on the campaign trail and actually coming through with those promises are two totally different things. Obama will be criticized and examined closely, as any president and pioneer should, but our hope should be that he has the wisdom that he needs to make the best decisions for us as a nation. That should be our prayer for him, regardless of whether you voted for him or not.

Stephen Akinduro, Columbus

True service

I would like to compliment the Public Works Department of Harris County for its rapid response to my calls over the years about fallen trees, missing stop signs or potholes in the road. During 30 years at Pine Lake, there have been many of those. The people there have always been friendly and helpful.

Karl J. Mollenhauer, West Point

Makes no sense

I am at a loss to understand my good friend Seth Harp’s continued push for allowing retail alcohol sales to be added to our present Sunday laws prohibiting this practice to accommodate a “Northern” visitor’s surprise at our rules.

As I understand it, alcohol can be purchased up until midnight on Saturday or, if one is in desperate need, they can cross the bridge to solve their unforeseen problem.

How in the world can adding Sunday retail sales to the present rules benefit our great city? By letting visitors know we are trying to catch up to Northern practices?

Jim Sigmund, Hamilton

Sweet sounds

It is sadly funny how many times I’ve heard people of our city, young and old, tell me that they simply love music; that they can’t live without it; that music is one of the most important parts of their lives; yet in the same breath, they vociferously scream vitriolic diatribe against jazz as if the music exists solely for their personal, horrific torture.

First of all, music is music regardless of ilk; some music is more complex than others, but all music follows universal laws created by celestial deities, and to categorize music is merely segregation. And if you’re into segregation, that’s really not my concern, but if you didn’t attend the most recent monthly meeting of the Columbus Jazz Society (at the Liberty Theater) simply because you think you don’t like jazz, then you missed music at its quintessential. The host band featured Laura Croyle, Atlanta vocalist, a bassist and a keyboardist, and all three displayed emulous virtuosic musicianship. The diminutive dynamo sang with the dulcet sounds of laughing crystalline dreams; the bassist galloped up and down his instrument’s fingerboard like a soft-trodden baritone butterfly; the keyboardist tickled ivory innocence, giggling sweet tone-dancing that painted terrestrial rainbows.

Jazz is magical. Certain versions of Ellington’s “Caravan” touch the deepest harbors in the most remote regions of my cerebral port cities. Give jazz a chance.

Russell (Rusty) Allen Taylor, Columbus

Real threat

Global warming is a threat to the health of our children right here, as well as worldwide. A new report reveals that children may be especially vulnerable to the effects of global warming. The report recommends that steps should be taken now to safeguard their health as temperature rises: Researchers say global warming exacerbates common childhood diseases such as asthma and allergies.

Children are also at risk of losing a parent or caregiver due to extreme weather conditions. Researchers say the following are examples of the effects global warming could have on children’s health:

1. Damage to lung function and growth due to increased air pollution.

2. Increased waterborne and food-borne illnesses, including infectious diarrhea from increased temperatures and disrupted food supplies.

3. Increase in infectious diseases spread by mosquitoes and ticks, such as West Nile virus, malaria and Lyme disease.

Researchers say children are often the most vulnerable to adverse health effects from environmental hazards. Researchers encourage pediatricians to be role models for minimizing greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming by making changes such as switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, reducing thermostat settings in the winter, and increasing them in summer and using cars less.

We should all remember that nobody can save us from us but us. With God’s help, we can conqueror these environmental health hazards.

Ronnie Reed, Phenix City

Fine Alabamian

It was with sorrow yet fond memories that I learned of the recent death of former Elmore County Probate Judge Edward W. Enslen.

I didn’t know him well, but I knew of him as a kind, caring, and generous gentleman who befriended me as a stranger many years ago shortly after I retired from the Air Force and settled in Wetumpka.

Many early mornings I would go below Walter Bouldin dam to fish. If Judge Enslen was there, as he often was, he would engage me in friendly conversation. When it came time for him to leave and go to work at the courthouse he would give me what live bait, usually crickets, that he had left, and wish me luck.

Those crickets provided the main course of many delicious meals of large bluegill and other fish for my family.

Thank you, and RIP, Judge Enslen.

Don Seibold, Wetumpka, Ala.

English-impaired

Is it too much to ask that people who write the headlines for the paper know basic grammar? I was dismayed by the news that John Smoltz is leaving the Atlanta Braves, but the blow was even worse when I read your headline, “Smoltz tell his side.” I’m going to mourn the loss of my favorite pitcher and the demise of subject-verb agreement. Like Smoltz, copy editing has done gone.

Terry Irvin, Columbus

We got it

Yes Columbus, there is a free house!

A couple of years ago, my wife and I were lucky and blessed to win the St. Jude Dream Home. It was a very beautiful home and we planned on moving in until I experienced health problems.

Some of you may have read the news story Larry Gierer wrote and interpreted it as a negative situation. It was not. Let me assure you St. Jude did give us the Dream Home free and clear.

I think the misunderstanding came with the IRS, as usual. They demanded we “share the wealth” with the banks, automakers, and people too lazy to work. So yes, you do have to pay the IRS immediately, even though income taxes are not due until April 15.

St. Jude gives the winner the house; they have no control over IRS. But then, does anyone?

The bottom line is we sold the house at a good price. With the cash from the sale of the Dream Home we gave our five children some money, paid cash for two cars and put money in the bank. Winning the Dream Home was a great blessing for us.

I encourage everyone to purchase a ticket or two this year, as I will. I do not expect to win, but I know the money goes to a great cause — St. Jude Hospital for Children. That is what it’s all about.

If you are lucky and win, you will discover — as others have — that fairy tales do come true.

Tommy Bassett, Columbus

It’s obvious

Sen Hillary Clinton is at the confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee not because she is best qualified, but as consolation for having lost the Democratic presidential nomination to Obama.

Jim Slaughter, Fortson

Next meltdown?

Corporate greed … exorbitant executive compensation and unbelievable bonuses … lack of congressional oversight … total disregard for existing laws and regulations … lack of self-regulation … deceptive business practices … kickbacks … questionable fees … manipulation of market … coercion … sharing of customer information … insatiable greed.

This description would lead one to think that the topic being discussed is Wall Street. In the context offered, this very well describes the pharmaceutical benefit manager/insurance relationship and the way it is being used exploit the American consumer and the federal government. This may very well be the next industry to implode, with very costly consequences, if something is not done to get it under control and demand the accountability it requires.

Norman W. Davis, Phenix City

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