Parting thoughts - A farewell message to readers

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May 15, 2011

 

In September 2003, nearly eight years ago I began writing a monthly column for the Midland Daily News. It fulfilled a dream and passion I had for many years. My columns generated a lot of comments some months and others not a one. Those who complimented me were a source of encouragement while those who criticized my views gave me food for thought. I even changed my views in some cases. Seldom did anyone call or email me with harsh words and for that I am grateful.

It is time for me to move on however. I have books to write. One is nearly completed about my family history in Leelanau County. Another is more than half completed about the Catholic Church. A third one is about Good Harbor, Michigan, where I grew up. It was once a thriving little lumber village and now there is scant evidence of anyone having lived there. This one will require much more research than I anticipated but I am very excited about it.

With that lengthy introduction I am saying this is my last column. Oh, I may write an occasional one but my goal in writing a column has been reached. I have some parting thoughts.

Civility

The most critical need we have in our country today is respect and appreciation of each other. We need to recognize that we are all brothers and sisters in this journey we call life and we are all part of this democratic experiment we call the United States. Letís try to move our country forward instead of snarling at each other with venom and vindictive language.

Equality

One of the founding principles or values of this country is equality of persons while recognizing the diversity of race, color, religion, and personal qualities. We have come a long way in making that ideal a reality but we have a long way to go. Women, gays, and immigrants are just a few who are left out of that equality ideal.

Opportunity

This country has been a land of opportunity from the very beginning and has enticed many immigrants from many countries. It truly is a melting pot of people and cultures and recently many people of non-Christian religions. While the opportunities are not as evident with the settlement and development of lands across the continent, albeit at the expense of the Native Americans, the lure of a better life still exists. Letís work to make that dream of opportunity a reality for our latest immigrants whether documented or not.

Wealth

I put wealth and its creation in a category separate from equality and opportunity but all three are related. In the last thirty years we have seen a redistribution of wealth that has not occurred since one hundred years ago or so. Wealth has been gradually shifted from the poor and middle class to the wealthy and very wealthy to such a staggering degree that the ratio between the highest and lowest compensated employees has risen from a reasonable 79 to 1 to a ratio of over 400 to one. The only real growth in the last thirty years has been among the top five percent instead of across all spectra as it was in 1950 to 1980. The last time there was such a high concentration of wealth was in the 1920ís just prior to the stock market crash and the Great Depression. Letís reverse this trend before it is too late.

††††††††††† There is a popular belief that people are poor because they want to be or they are lazy or through their own fault in some way. This is just plain poppycock. While I admit that some people abuse the benefit systems we have established, most people would rather work than lay around.

Interdependence

It is clear to me that human beings have an interdependent relationship with each other around the neighborhood and around the world. This interdependence extends to our environment. It used to be that nature could counteract the abuse of us humans when we lived miles apart, but now that there are such high concentrations of people, nature cannot absorb the abuse any more. We must respect our world or we wonít have a place to live. We will be the first species to die out because we destroyed our world.

Conclusion

I hope that my columns have inspired people to think about and wrestle with the issues we face. Lastly, I thank Editor Jack Telfer for his support over these years.