11-09-2017 Letters and Commentary

Combat training for life

Where do we get the notion that religion is supposed to be all sweetness and harmless, passive and private? Jesus taught love, but when asked by soldiers of his day what they should do to prepare for God’s kingdom, John the Baptist (Jesus’ cousin and forerunner) didn’t tell them to quit the Marines (oh, my bad. Marines had to wait until November 10, 1775 to get their first orders), or to leave the army. He didn’t pick flowers so they could put them on the ends of their spears or lace them into their helmets. He just told them not to abuse their power and to be content. (see Luke 3:14)

So what about the love part? Aren’t we supposed to love our enemies and do good to those who mistreat us? OK. We’re also supposed to defend the defenseless, and protect those who are unjustly threatened – including our families and communities. There’s a place for each response.

I think Marines make good real (vs. pretend) Christians. They understand some realities of life. Through grueling training and the shared Warrior Culture they understand that life is not all sweetness and harmless to evil. We are supposed to be a danger to evil – in word, lifestyle, and action. Most people don’t like conflict or difficulty. Marines accept both, do more with less, and prevail. The Bible calls that “Enduring hardship” – see 2 Timothy 2:4.

Another birthday celebration happened this week. On November 6, Billy Graham turned 99. Another warrior in his own right, he kept consistent to his mission as well, boldly sharing the gospel of personal peace through Jesus Christ for many years.

That message of life, forgiveness, and freedom from our own entanglements and wrongs is still available to all, and thanks to God’s blessing on the U.S. Marines, we still have the freedom to declare it!

5 ways Social Security protects you and your family

Next payday, when you see a portion of your wages go toward FICA taxes, rest easier knowing that your investment in Social Security brings a lifetime of protections for you and your family.

From your first job and throughout your career, we track your earnings and give you credits. As you prepare for a financially secure future, you should know about these five benefits that you, your spouse, and your children may become eligible for through Social Security:

Retirement benefits provide you with a continuous source of income later in life. If you’ve earned enough credits, you can start receiving your full retirement benefits at age 66 or 67 — depending on when you were born. You may choose to claim these benefits as early as age 62 at a permanently reduced rate, but waiting until after your full retirement age increases your benefit amount by up to 8 percent per year to age 70. Plan for your retirement at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire.

Disability benefits offer a financial lifeline if you’re struck by a serious medical condition that makes it impossible for you to work and provide for yourself and your family and is expected to last at least one year or to result in death. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability.

Child benefits support your minor children while you’re receiving Social Security retirement benefits or disability benefits. This financial support also is available to adult children who become disabled before age 22. Grandchildren and stepchildren may qualify in certain situations. Please see: www.socialsecurity.gov/people/kids.

Spousal benefits supplement a couple’s income if one of the two never worked or had low lifetime earnings. In some cases, this benefit is also available to divorced spouses. Please see: www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/retire/applying6.html.

Survivor benefits ease the financial burden on your loved ones after you die by providing monthly payments to eligible widows, widowers, children, and dependent parents. It’s likely the survivor benefits you have under Social Security carry greater value than your individual life-insurance policy. Read more about survivor benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/survivors.

You must meet specific eligibility requirements to receive any type of Social Security benefits.

Currently, Social Security provides benefits to more than 61 million American workers and their families. And we’ll be there for you and your family through life’s journey.

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.

THANKS FOR YOUR SERVICE… Saturday is Veterans Day, November 11. The day America sets aside to remember all its veterans for their service and sacrifice.

Happily most communities have services to salute their veterans including our own hometowns of Coloma, Hartford, and Watervliet. Sadly most folks won’t attend the services. Hopefully everyone will salute their family and friends who are veterans and say, “Thanks for your service.”

WHEN TOO SOON IS TOO LATE… it is never too soon to ramp up the discussion on gun control. Twenty-six people lost their lives and 20 more were injured in a Texas church Sunday when a gunman, armed with an automatic rifle opened fire in the middle of the service.

Politicians maneuvering for the spotlight, decried the carnage, expressed sympathy to the families of the victims, and said it was too soon to talk gun control.

I recall the same scenario time and again following each and every wanton killing in recent years.

I suspect the worn phrase “guns don’t kill, people do” promulgated by the National Rifle Association and mindlessly repeated by the uneducated “armed and dangerous” has been supplanted by the “too soon…” nonsense.

Ask any loved one of an innocent victim if they would like to have the clock turned back to the day the gun and ammunition used WAS NOT manufactured.

We can never turn back the clock, but we can change our laws… Today, not tomorrow. And when we don’t change our laws to protect our country, we will change our leaders.

I prompted a “word storm” of comments on Facebook when I shared my view that increased gun control is needed in light of the carnage being visited on our country’s populace. Predictably, the opinions ranged from losing our rights to bear arms, to needing armed civilians to protect us, to banning all gun sales and use, to doing nothing, to banning weapons that are not used for sport (hunting, target, shooting).

I guess my middle of the road view to ban the ownership of military style automatic weapons from the civilian population is too much or too little for much of the Facebook readers.

To be sure, the continued carnage of citizens left unchecked will ultimately result in more draconian measures such as banning the manufacturing, sale, and ownership of all guns. A better solution is a steady and constant national program to educate the public of peaceful conflict options, improve mental health care, increase law enforcement training and networking, and enact national gun control legislation that is workable, enforceable, and fair to all.

MISSING PAGES… Just when I think I’ve seen it all, at least in the printing business, there’s a new wrinkle. A half a dozen Tri-City Record subscribers that we know of were missing pages 5 and 6. In newspaper jargon the half page sheet is called a dinky (a full sheet folded in half is four pages). Print manager at Allegan Flashes, Sue surmised the roll of dinky newsprint tore off during the press run. Even though the press has a sensor that shuts it down, it is possible a few papers, minus pages 5 & 6, squeezed through the folder.

When the flawed papers hit the mail, readers looking for the community calendar & Kute Kids on Page 5 and those for the obituaries and police news on Page 6 were disappointed.

On the assumption that those missing the pages called the office, we were able to mail out the absent pages or email them to all that requested.