Tuesday, January 22, 2013

King's message was peace ... but, we must face reality

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

Monday was a day of peace in America. It was a day of celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Across America there were marches and commemorative events to honor the great Civil Rights leader, who preached of a peaceful coexistence for all.

Since the reminders about King’s message of peace and listening to the remarks by YWCA keynote speaker Jeff Brown, I can’t get the conflict out of my mind.

Sure, King was a man of peace. Certainly, a world devoid of conflict and hatred is an idealist dream.

Unfortunately, I can’t help but believe that King’s dream is just that – a dream.

While messages of peace were ringing across most of America, Barack Obama was taking the oath of office in Washington, D.C. As King’s words and teachings echoed in our ears, the most corrupt and dangerous man in America was beginning his second term as dictator.

Never in the past century and a half has a president so divided America. Peace? How can we become a peaceful nation when we have a president who is intent on taking away our rights?

In another vein, we can dream of peace. But, we must look at reality. We live in a world that is full of individuals, organizations and countries that are evil and care nothing about the value of individual liberty or human life.

The First Amendment provided Martin Luther King the stage on which to deliver his message. The Second Amendment is what gave King the ability to stand on that stage and exercise his First Amendment right.

I find it ironic that our first black president is the one plotting to take away both of those formerly inalienable rights.

Equally ironic is the fact, yes fact, that in order for us to strive for a peaceful existence, we must bear arms and must be ready, willing and able to fight, be it against a tyrannical egomaniac president or a foreign dictator.

I recall the song “One Tin Soldier” by Coven. The Vietnam War-era song was featured in the film “Billy Jack.” In the song, the mountain people were a peace-loving group who wanted nothing but to be left alone. The valley people wanted the secret treasure that belonged to the mountain people, who offered to share with their counterparts in the valley. Greed ruled the day and the valley people slaughtered the mountain people to have the treasure all to themselves. It turned out that the “treasure” was a simple message – “Peace on Earth was all it said.”

The message was peace. But, did that make the mountain people any less dead?

Our forefathers built this country. They set the rules and principals as to what is required to be a part of what was the greatest nation on earth.

Our service men and women take an oath, to defend against all enemies foreign and domestic. The origins of that oath go back to the Revolutionary War. Foreign and domestic.

Those who choose to blindly follow others, even to choosing a peaceful existence under the rule of a tyrannical dictator, are doomed to be nothing more than slaves … if they survive. If they are allowed to live.

To those who would choose that route, I say, you are not really an American. Americans never bowed to tyranny and oppression. Just because this is the 21st century does not mean that those dangers were left behind in another era.

They still exist and we must be ready to face, and if necessary, take up arms against, anyone who dares to steal what our fathers and grandfathers before them fought, and died, to defend.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Our friends and neighbors need help, please pitch in!

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

One of the things that I hear most often when someone offers an opinion as to what they would like to read in our paper, is a comment to the effect, "I would like to see more good news printed in your paper."

Unfortunately, a majority of news stories seem to be about someone running afoul of the law or a tragedy of some sort.

Most of us who work or live in and around Piqua, have heard directly, or indirectly, about several area residents who are undergoing life-changing health issues. We have run stories related to three of these.

Local resident and highly-talented musician Bob Comstock recently suffered multiple strokes which have left him facing challenges as he fights to regain speech and mobility. Dylan Blair and Mickayla Nelson are two local children who are fighting serious cases of cancer. I am certain there are other area residents who are, or who have family members, facing serious health issues, as well.

These stories would certainly fall into the "bad news" category.

We, as friends, neighbors or relatives of these troubled families have an opportunity to put a good-news label on each of these stories.

There are fund-raising events and benefits on tap and available for Bob, Dylan and  Mickaya — and, of course, their families.

We have all faced a realization from time to time, that when we are feeling sorry for ourselves or our situation, we don't have to look far to find someone whose situation is more dire than our own.

I urge everyone to take some time out of your busy schedule to participate and donate to these people who need not only our support, but also our continued prayers, as they and their families fight to overcome adversity that many of us could never know.

I attended the annual Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce meeting this week. Awards were given to several worthy residents. I was struck by the fact that Piqua is full of people who are not afraid to give back to their community.

If ever there was a time to give back, now is that time. Our community is like family. When one person is in genuine need of support, we can all pitch in a little to help relieve some of the stress.

I don't believe that anyone is asking for a huge sacrifice on anyone's part. All they are asking is that we all pitch in to help some friends who could use a helping hand at this time.

Information on all three of our neighbors-in-need is available on Facebook.

A benefit, Do It for Dylan, is being held today at the Bradford Community Club, 154 1/2 N. Miami Street, in Bradford.

Next Saturday, a event to help offset expenses for Bob Comstock is being held at the Covington Eagles.

For continuing efforts to assist Mickayla Nelson, go to Prayers for Mickayla of Facebook.

We are bombarded with television adds to save everything from dogs to earthworms. I doubt that a nickel out of every dollar donated ever finds its way to actually assist as intended.

Here is a chance to help — locally. Here is an opportunity to do something good for your neighbors.

And no matter if you can attend or donate, I hope that we all take some time each day to pray Bob, for Dyan and for Mickayla ... and for all who could use a little intervention from Above.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Teaching children the difference between fantasy and reality is parents' responsibility

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

What was the best thing that happened to your child in school last week?

Did your child have homework or personal problems that cropped up during the week?

Do you know the answers to these questions, or — do you just think that you know the answers?

As the debate about violence and gun control simmers, I think that it is time to look at the real reason for many of the violent crimes taking place in today's world.

We live in a country where everything is a fantasy. Television programing is filled with so-called "reality" shows. These programs are, in actuality, carefully choreographed programing that incites conflict and strife between friends, co-workers and even family members ... all in the name of entertainment.

I don't know where to begin with the zombie and vampire shows.

Sure, some of you are saying that I am old and out of touch with what people enjoy watching today. The truth is, there were lessons to be learned from television in the bygone era.

Programs such as Lassie, Flipper, My Three Sons and the Brady Bunch were not only entertaining, but had a lesson attached in nearly every episode. Even programs that included gun play had a very simple message — if you break the law, you pay the consequences. I don't recall ever watching Matt Dillon pull the trigger on someone who did not deserve it.

Today, when our kids watch television, they tune into programs filled with walking dead zombies who need to be killed off. The only lesson there is to kill everything in your path, just in case someone might be a zombie.

Then, of course, we have video games. It seems to me that all of them feature nothing but killing and gore. Kids, and a number of adults, say they are fun. I'm sure that they are.

The problem, as I see it, is that that we have succeeded in totally desensitizing entire generations of children, many of whom are now young adults. There is killing, blood, guts and gore everywhere. But, there are never any consequences.

I am not blaming television. I am not blaming video games. The interest in the current trend in both just shows how sick our society has become.

Our children have no sense of value. I see it every day. They do not respect others. They do not respect themselves.

One of the reasons for this is that they spend too much time in front of a computer screen or television set. We have a generation of Americans who has lost nearly all of their social skills. This is evolution?

Oh, the reason that I don't blame television and video games is the same reason that I do not blame guns. That Nintendo set did not reach out, grab your kid, chain him to a chair and say, "No supper for you until you kill 500 people, good guys, bad guys, it doesn't matter, and score a billion points." No!

More than likely, the kid is sitting there while mom and/or dad use the game as a baby sitter to keep the kid out of their hair.

It is a parent's responsibility to know what their child is doing. I know that is difficult. I look back on raising our own children and see things that I could have done, should have done, that would have made me a better parent.

I know that no matter how good a job we attempt to do as parents, nothing can ever guarantee that life will be peaches and cream for our children.

What we can do, what we must do, is balance the time spent killing zombies with family time and explain to our children the difference between fantasy and reality. Talk to your kids!

The first order of responsibility in teaching our children is not our school teachers. They play an important part, certainly. We, as parents, must always be vigilant in teaching our children morals, values and the difference between right and wrong.

The life you save, may be your child's.