The Paw Paw River Journal

Looking ahead In England of the 1600s there lived a philosopher named John Locke. He had a theory that when we are born we are like a blank page… a tabula rasa he called it. Nothing written there! In other words whatever happens to us in life, he said, is what we become. We have come to believe that is not entirely true. Reminds me of a story… a lady brought her child in to be examined by a psychiatrist. The kid was absolutely horrible. He acted out all the time, and just would not mind. They had a conference in his office after the boy had been examined. The doctor said, “Madam, there’s nothing wrong with your child except heredity and environment!” Well, what else is there? So you see we have come to believe it is a combination of the two. For our purposes here I’d like to apply that idea to life… the tabula rasa… the blank page. Our new year has started, and it lies before us ready and available to write on it whatever we wish. For better or worse. What will it be? Some people think we are on the right track in this grand experiment of ours, the most successful democracy the world has ever seen. We are regaining our position of preeminence in the world. We have successfully negotiated, or should I say renegotiated trade agreements more balanced and to our advantage. Tony Blair, former prime minister of England said the measure of a country is whether people are trying to leave it, or trying to get into it. Other people feel we are on the road to ruin. Our country is being run by a businessman who knows how to make deals, but that’s all! And he may even be unbalanced. We should have open borders, free education for all, and universal medical care. Wow! Doesn’t that sound great? But wait a minute! It also sounds like socialism. One smart aleck defined socialism as a system in which the government gives you everything. And it works until they run out of other people’s money. But politics aside, I have a deeper concern than that. What has happened to people’s honesty? Around the holiday season TV news was filled with stories about dishonest people. Some followed the UPS trucks delivering packages. Places where people didn’t come out to get the packages, these leeches ran up, grabbed the loot, and ran off! Others ran scams that collected money for worthy causes (supposedly) and then lined their own pockets. Some time ago I heard a little story that stuck with me. It seems a young man, unmarried, was living at home with his widowed mother. He was an attorney working for the IRS. One day he approached Mom and said, “If you’ve got a minute, there’s something I’d like to run past you.” So she sat down, and he said, “I’ve got this friend, and he has an idea. You know how sometimes people pay more in taxes than they should. He says why don’t I hunt out some of them and let him know. Then he will go to them and offer to save them some money. He will do it for a fee. Then he will split the money with me.” The mom sat there and rocked in her chair for a moment. Then she said, “Son, you know how I come up in the morning to your room and have to wake you up, so you can go to work?” He nodded. “Well, I’d hate to come up there and find you lying awake and looking at the ceiling.” The young man thought for a moment, then said, “All right, Mom… I won’t do it!” I’m afraid in our modern society today not everyone would feel that way. What is the reason? Maybe I’m oversimplifying, but I believe it is because of the breakdown of the family unit. Who teaches our kids to be honest? And it’s not by someone sitting them down and giving a lecture. It is by example. We seem to be obsessed by a desire for political correctness. We have taken God out of so many things. Do we have any idea why it’s bad to lie, cheat, and steal? Where did that idea come from? Why is it bad? Well, I believe it came from God! There has to be something larger than ourselves! Consider the immensity of the universe. Do you think that just happened by chance? Consider the birth of the baby. Do you think all of the systems… checks and balances within us that keep us going… just happened by chance? I believe there is a grand design to the universe and to our lives. We are all related… part of a whole! I also believe part of that design years and years ago was carved on some stone tablets. They were guarded jealously by an old man who was leading his people out of slavery in Egypt. And I believe they are just as relative today as they were then! One final thought about looking ahead. It came to me on the Internet, and I can’t even remember from whence it came: At midnight on December 31, a new year began. This New Year has been given to us. What we do each day is important because we are exchanging a day of our lives for it. When tomorrow comes today will be gone forever, leaving in its place something we have traded for it. May our new year be for gain, not for loss; good, not evil; success, not failure.

Coloma Library News Read with Spirit Spirit, a certified therapy dog will be at the library on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Children may sign up for a 15-minute slot by stopping in at the front desk or calling the library at 468-3431. Reading to therapy dogs is a fun way for children to build reading confidence and fluency. Book Club The Coloma Library Book Club is meeting on Thursday, January 10 at 5:30 p.m. The title to read before the discussion is “A Fatal Grace” by Louise Penny. Generally, depending on demand there are titles available for check-out at the front desk. The book club is always looking for new members. Stop into the library or call 468-3431 for more information.

2019 Southwest Michigan Horticultural Days The Michigan Grape Society and Michigan State University Extension in partnership with Lake Michigan College will host the annual Southwest Michigan Horticultural Days conference Wednesday, February 6 and Thursday, February 7 at Lake Michigan College’s Mendel Center, 2755 E. Napier Ave., Benton Harbor, Michigan. Registration begins at 8 a.m. both days and all educational sessions begin at 9 a.m. Discussion of production issues will be led by MSU Extension agents, fruit growers, and university researchers. There will be educational sessions on tree fruits, vegetables, blueberries and grapes on both days. The event also features a trade show. Restricted use pesticide recertification credits have been requested.

Pre-registration cost is $45 per person and includes lunch for both days. Registrations postmarked after Monday, January 14, 2019 and at the door, will be $60 per person. Mail registration to: Michigan Grape Society, P.O. Box 151, Baroda, MI 49101, Attention: Allen Zelmer. Make checks payable to Michigan Grape Society.

For registration information only, please call Allen Zelmer at 269-870-5265. To view program details of specific presentations, go to canr.msu.edu/swmrec (look under Resources and Reports).


100 yea