04-05-2018 Letters and Commentary

Demonstrations against gun violence, watershed moment Dear Editor, I believe the March 24 demonstrations against gun violence, organized by students from the Florida high school that recently experienced a mass shooting, were a watershed moment in the raging debate on reasonable firearm regulation. I recall such a turning point relative to the Vietnam War. Protests over the draft-training to body bag scenario resulted in the eventual end to that shameful waste of young lives. Unfortunately, not everyone has seen the value in the student’s reaction to gun violence. Rick Santorum, a former Senator from Pennsylvania, criticized the students, urging them to “learn CPR rather than looking for someone else to solve their problem.” What a harebrained suggestion! Santorum later walked back his statement a little, acknowledging that CPR would not be a helpful way to deal with gunshot wounds. He continued, however, to spout the NRA standard argument, asserting that any government action to curb gun violence was not the right solution because it involves looking to “someone else” to solve the problem. The “someone else” that the students are looking to, is the president and those in congress. In our democracy, these are the people we hire to fix such problems. However, those in control place more value on donations they get from the NRA and gun manufacturers than they do on children’s lives. These young demonstrators, and the many millions of people across the country who support their actions, have made it clear to those of the Santorum ilk now serving in Washington: “Shape up and help stop the carnage or we will elect those who will!” Eric A. Wild, Lawrence

“The Legacy of Jean Klock Park” April 12 at the Heritage Museum The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center welcomes the public to “The Legacy of Jean Klock Park on Lake Michigan,” an illustrated presentation by Julie Weiss, on Thursday, April 12, at 6:30 p.m. No admission fee is required, but a suggested donation of $5 will help support the mission of the Heritage Museum. The Heritage Museum is located at 601 Main Street in St. Joseph at the beautiful Priscilla U. Byrns Center. Admission to all exhibits is free. For more information, call the Heritage Museum at 269-983-1191 or visit www.theheritagemcc.org.

Lakeland celebrates lives saved through organ donation Currently, 3,294 men, women, and children in Michigan, and 116,000 nationwide, are awaiting lifesaving organ transplants. Each day, on average, 88 lives are saved by an organ transplant in the USA; but 22 people die daily waiting for a transplant that never comes. During National Donate Life Month (NDLM), Lakeland Health encourages community members to register as organ, eye, and tissue donors and celebrates those that have saved lives through the gift of donation. “Another person is added to the nation’s organ transplant wait list every 10 minutes,” said Maureen Bishop, RN, Clinical Nurse Specialist. “Through organ donation, one person can save up to eight lives while a single tissue donor can help up to 75 additional people in need. We encourage people of all ages and medical histories to become donors.” In 2017, the generosity of Michigan’s 320 organ donors resulted in 876 life-saving organ transplants. So far this year, Michigan donors have provided 190 transplants and saved numerous lives. To become an organ donor, visit any local Secretary of State office or www.lakelandhealth.org/donatelife.

Don’t Punish Pain Nationwide Rally Saturday The “Don’t Punish Pain Nationwide Rally” will be held in every state on Saturday, April 7, 2018, at 12:00 p.m. ET. In Michigan, the rally is on the east steps of the Capitol Building, 100 N. Capitol Ave., Lansing. The CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain was released in 2016. These guidelines were meant to ONLY provide recommendations for primary care clinicians who prescribe opioids for chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care. After the release of the CDC Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, millions of chronic pain patients went to follow-up appointments and discovered their provider would no longer treat chronic pain due to the CDC Guidelines. These patients were compliant patients, who were not abusing their legitimate prescription medications. The vast majority of chronic pain patients has developed good patient/provider relationships with their doctors and uses their medications legally and exactly as prescribed. These health care providers had been prescribing these opioids as part of an overall integrative treatment plan because they knew their patients needed to utilize them. These same health care providers have now removed legitimate patients out of fear of losing their medical licenses or fear of jail time from the DEA. Millions of chronic illness patients found that they were simply dropped from these medications, no safe weaning schedule, the medications were just stopped, period! This left millions who suffer from chronic illnesses, such as Crohn’s Disease, Colitis, Sickle Cell, Fibromyalgia, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Chiari Malformation, Arachnoiditis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Degenerative Disc Disease, Degenerative Joint Disease and thousands of other painful illnesses, “homeless” in the medical community. Many in the chronically ill community are disabled from the pain they endure every second, every minute, every hour and every day of their lives. The chronically ill have been expunged from medical care. Veterans, who have fought for our country were told and continue to be told that they would no longer receive opioid pain medications for traumatic battlefield injuries and are left to suffer. Media hype and false information have the public confused about the difference in legitimate prescribed opioid pain medications and the illegal street drugs, such as illicit fentanyl. This distinction needs to be made and must be made. This is a large step in the fight to have the CDC guidelines modified to fit the needs of all Americans. The mission of the rally is to energize the diverse community of people affected by pain by providing a way for their voices to be heard. The organizers want to help the public understand the difference between legally prescribed opioid medications and illegal illicit street drugs. They also want elected officials to stand up for the 100 million Americans who live with a chronic illness.

Becoming child-like She was fully engaged in her conversation with Peter Rabbit. And Peter Rabbit seemed to be enjoying talking with her. A granddaughter had received a stuffed Rabbit in her Easter basket that afternoon. She named him Peter, and I was pretending that he could actually talk with his new owner. I had done that before with sons’ conversations with Ricky Raccoon and Brown Bear. A child’s imagination allows for that. We adults, of course know that we are the voices and the animators. But for a child, that doesn’t matter. There’s a difference between being child-like and child-ish. Child-like is about humility, reaching out, and imagination. Child-ish is about immaturity, me first, and fuzzy thinking. A person can therefore be child-like without being child-ish. Jesus said we have to become like children to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3). The requirement is for child-like (not child-ish) faith, and its associated humility. We can fool a child into thinking that Peter Rabbit is actually talking with them, but God does not fool us into thinking that He has actually revealed Himself to us and has demonstrated His love for us through His Son Jesus Christ. Centuries of prophetic revelation and interaction laid the groundwork for Jesus’ revealing of God to us. It’s not “make-believe.” But child-like faith has great rewards in the present as well. It allows us to look, for example, at the wonderful universe around us (even as revealed by recent Hubble images) and realize that what we are seeing is only the outward evidence of a loving God who invites us to redemption. Psalm 19 makes the bridge from creation to redemption, from the physical macroscopic to the spiritual microscopic personal Redeemer. Maybe we need to better hear God speaking to us and finally realize by faith that this isn’t pretend.

It’s National Social Security Month! National Social Security Month is celebrated in April and is dedicated to educating you about Social Security programs and services. From programs that help support you through life’s journey, to services that help put you in control, to systems that help protect what’s important to you, Social Security is committed to helping secure today and tomorrow for you and your family. During National Social Security Month, we encourage people to take control of their future with my Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/ myaccount. Create a my Social Security account to check your earnings history, confirm you have enough credits to retire, see an estimate of future benefits while still working, or manage your monthly benefits once you begin receiving them. You can also check the status of your claim or appeal, request a replacement Social Security card, and get an instant benefit verification letter. Our Retirement Estimator is another great tool that provides you with immediate and personalized benefit estimates based on your own earnings record. This allows you to receive the most accurate estimate of your future retirement benefits. Estimate your benefits now at www.socialsecu-rity.gov/estimator. After you have viewed your earnings history for accuracy, confirmed you have enough work credits to retire, and determined the best age to retire, you can get started on the next phase of your life right away by retiring online! It’s fast and easy at www.socialsecurity.gov/retireonline. For more than 80 years, Social Security has changed to meet the needs of our customers. During National Social Security Month, and throughout the year, Social Security puts you in control with secure access to your information anytime, anywhere. From estimating or managing your benefits, requesting a replacement Social Security card, to retiring online, visit SocialSecurity.gov today, and see what you can do online at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices. Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov.

EASTER TRADITION… I trust you all had a happy and blessed Easter. Anne and I did. Part of our Easter tradition is cooking Easter brunch for our family after church on Sunday. An added joy was joining the Loshbough clan at Barb and Sonny’s new home in Coloma for their traditional Easter egg hunt for the kids. There were nearly 30 young’uns combing the backyard for Easter eggs filled with treats and coins. Many, many youngsters enjoyed the same experience at the Coloma and Watervliet Easter Egg Hunts on Saturday and at local churches Sunday.

PARK WORK… Work is underway on the new river park in Watervliet… I can’t wait for when the bridge to the island is completed. The island in the river is a great wilderness experience right in Watervliet. I hope the developers don’t clean it up too much. There’s plenty to explore and imagine, complete with giant oaks (one could be 300 years old), bluffs and ravines, swamps and briar patches, and plenty of wild berries. A handful of fishermen and river paddlers made the most use of the island in the past few years. When the spillway dam had the bridge over it, hikers, explorers and lovers had easy access. One spring Sunday morning, I came up on a small pickup truck parked at the far end of the island. As quiet as I could, I sneaked off as to not disturb the young couple sleeping in after the prom. At other times I came upon campsites of river travelers. The most recent just three years ago, there were two large tents, food and fishing tackle at the site, but no campers. I surmised they had paddled to the park and walked down to the Sidetrack for a sunrise breakfast before going on their way. Hopefully the new North Berrien River Park will host many folks enjoying the waterfront park.

NARROW ESCAPES… watching a news item this past weekend of a youngster in California being rescued from a sewer brought to mind similar circumstances of my own rescues. I must have been an adventuresome lad 60 years ago, at least for a short period of time. My best pal Butch and I were exploring the basement foundation of a house and had brought a coil of rope and a bicycle tire as climbing equipment. What we didn’t allow for was the rope was useless to climb out of the basement and have no idea why I was carrying a bicycle tire. Needless to say, the hole was deeper to get out of than it was to get in. Butch tried standing on my shoulders to reach to top of the wall to no avail. Plan B was to shout at the top of our lungs for help! About the time hoarseness replaced panic a tall lanky teenage boy showed up and hoisted us out of the pit. While Butch was able to save his rope, my bicycle tire was, sadly, left behind. Years later, I bumped into our rescuer, Chuck Eagle. Chuck was owner of Sprague’s Grocery in Watervliet! We compared notes that disclosed we were both Berkley boys. Remarkably he did not recall the rescue or why he wouldn’t rescue my bicycle tire! On another occasion Butch and I, along with Marty were exploring underground service tunnels at a nearby junior high school under construction. Marty and I got separated from Butch and soon made a wrong turn while seeking our exit. Happily Butch found an exit and located us by our yelling for help and guided us back above ground. Toss in a couple tunnel collapses in our backyards and a near catastrophe with the gigantic 12-town Drain (which I still can’t write about), I developed a healthy dislike for closed spaces. My earliest recollection was balking at taking a tour with my dad of a WWII submarine anchored on the Detroit River. With a foot on the bottom rung of a ladder at the forward hatch, I asked the docent where the exit was. His reply “Aft,” with a nod to the end of a long narrow tub interspaced with tiny doors (hatches) sent me scurrying back up the ladder and to open skies.


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