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Editor replies to Kushner’s criticism and perspective on what a newspaper should be

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Mr. Kushner has always taken my replies, clarifications, whatever you want to call them, personally. I have told him more than once, they are not personal, but simply an editorial reaction to his presenting his opinions as facts, particularly when those opinions advance a partisan political ideology. It is a policy not reserved for him alone, but done on any Letter to the Editor sent to me for review that presents opinions as facts in any context. I’ve found on most occasions when explained that it is the wording presentation, rather than the expression of an opinion I might personally agree or disagree with, the writer is willing to reword to avoid confusion, and in some cases potential libel or slander liability which this paper will not risk. Mr. Kushner has made it clear he does not appreciate his submissions being suggested for rewording, particularly by me, so that course is not pursued. Hence, responses for clarification such as the one tied to his open letter to Joe Manchin.

And may I point out that while Mr. Kushner’s personal sense of “his space” on our editorial page may be offended by it, attaching an editorial response to reader submissions when necessary is not an unprecedented Opinion page methodology, though in a virtual world it may bear rethinking. And actually, I liked the separate, adjacent reply with its own headline better than the originally submitted editorial note at the end of his letter. But there was certainly no “scurrilous attempt” to conceal the response from him – but “paranoia does strike deep; into your heart, it will creep” (a musical nod to The Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What It’s Worth’)

Let me begin where Mr. Kushner ended his 2214-word commentary on my 4-point reply to his Manchin letter, with his closing accusation that my belief system, which I have attempted to accurately represent below, as opposed to his negative stereotyping, doesn’t reflect “the majority conservative perspective of our community” and should perhaps disqualify me from continued employment at Royal Examiner.

I will say that my publisher and I, while we may not always agree on the national political scene, agree that our job, the job of any responsible newspaper, is not to represent a community’s majority political opinion, nor anyone else’s, as truth, but rather to accurately report what we cover, and ask appropriate questions to give context, motive, and any other relevant aspects to governmental and citizen initiatives and actions impacting the community. If we feel it necessary to deliver an opinion, it is so identified.

To bend reporting to reflect a majority’s, or minority’s for that matter, partisan political ideology is commonly known as “propaganda”. And in many totalitarian societies, such partisan ideology promotion masquerades as “news”.

Verbally and in writing, Mr. Kushner tends to present his highly partisan political opinions as objective facts. Consequently, on the letter-writing side, it has fallen to me in an editorial role to point out where his opinions and objectively supportable facts may clash. Since Mr. Kushner seems not to believe in any truth outside his partisan ideological perspective, that has brought us into conflict. And since we have personally talked enough about our relative socio-political perceptions for him to have developed a not entirely accurate perception of my politics, Mr. Kushner attributes political motive to my editorial comments on his letters.

As to Mr. Kushner’s assumptions about my belief system, let me say that I do not give blanket approval to social welfare programs not thought out to balance the “general Welfare” and the national economic means to achieve that welfare. Let me also say, I do not believe everyone or even a majority in need of social welfare are lazy people, often stereotyped as a specific race, seeking a free ride on the backs of hard-working people. I might add that Democratic Administrations are not the only ones to operate at a budget deficit, and Republicans generally manage to create their deficits without the variable of social safety net programs vilified as “free rides for the lazy”.

Let me reiterate several points I have made to Mr. Kushner verbally in the past, several of which he continues to ignore:

1 – I am a political independent, and have never been registered to ANY political party, in my life. I have not been a fan of either the Republican or Democratic Party national hierarchies since the 1970’s when I studied Political Science as an elective in gaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, with credits for a minor in Psychology from VCU. All three of those disciplines, I believe, gave me an excellent perspective to eventually end up in the field of journalism and political governmental beat reporting.

2 – My socio-political perspective guiding my personal beliefs is that a person must balance personal liberty with social responsibility to their neighbors, and to the nation as a whole. No, I don’t believe in unnecessary governmental influence in one’s personal business conducted at home or on private property. However, when one’s personal business is taken into the streets, into the general population, how behaviors impact others must be a concern of every citizen. People who couldn’t accept that standard, I believe used to be called hermits – because at least they had the courtesy to take their anti-social tendencies away from the society they did not want to be a part of.

3 – And yes, I do believe the wealthy, the truly rich, should be taxed more than the middle and lower classes to support general welfare and other governmental programs to a national and collective good because they can afford it.

Does that make Roger – OH, SHIVER-SHIVER – a progressive socialist philosophically aligned with leftist “demons” like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders? Perhaps, though I have recently created a new political category for myself to explain conflicting perceptions of what I believe socially and politically. I have declared myself the first “Conservative Anarchist” – at least I think I’m the first.

What is the Conservative Anarchist ideology, you may ask: It means that while I don’t believe in any societal rules to limit my behavior, I don’t believe in breaking the existing rules either – hence, Conservative Anarchy.

That said, as to Mr. Kushner’s objection to my first point on the opening paragraph of the U.S. Constitution’s reference to “promote the general Welfare” as a fourth and “final” specific goal in establishing the rationale for the Constitution guiding the American nation while leaving out “and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” I will admit to looking at that final phrase differently than the four preceding it. That difference to my mind was the more general nature of the reference to “Blessings of Liberty” – Liberty from what, the British Crown and British taxes? Or perhaps from a notion 200-odd years later that an effort to minimize rampant domestic mass murder incidents by instituting legal controls on who could own and in what social settings firearms, hand-held semi-automatic weapons in particular (which didn’t exist in 1787), could be publicly carried?

Regardless of your perspective on that 21st-century liberty issue, it seemed to me that “Justice” (treat everybody fairly by a set legal standard), “domestic Tranquility” (a social expectation of general livability), “common defense” (an organized central defensive force), and “general Welfare” (survivable living conditions for the general population) were all more specific and easily identified references, while “Blessings of Liberty” was a more general end result of the previous four. If mistaken, I apologize. But I ask, how in 1787 might the Founding Fathers of the American experiment in democratically based representative government have viewed personal liberty issues of the 21st century? Since they’re not here to ask, we can only guess and express opinions, so here is mine:

Somehow I doubt it would be the “Me First/Every Man for Himself” personal liberties outlook of the late 20th and early 21st centuries that would arbitrarily judge an individual’s right to act their opinions out in a public context, above the group’s right to collective survival. Particularly with their introductory concerns about insuring “domestic Tranquility” and promoting “the general Welfare” – their capitalizations – I doubt the Founding Fathers would share the modern Sovereign Citizen or Libertarian perspectives on securing “the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”.

And that IS my opinion based on readings about them, and the written words of some of them on their collective desire for the new American nation to strive toward a more perfect union, including the final line of the Declaration of Independence in which the signees, some wealthy landowners: “mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor” in support of the creation of the new, independent nation” outside control of the British government they were about to go to war with.

And as to Mr. Kushner’s lengthy analysis of presidential election results, congressional majorities, and minorities, and legislative mandates I will say a few things:

In addition to gaining the White House by a nearly 7-million vote majority in 2020, the Democrats currently have working majorities in both houses of Congress, despite the gains Republicans made in the House in 2020 – This isn’t advanced math, Gary, a bigger minority (in the House of Representatives) is STILL a minority. So, it would appear that currently, the Democrats do have a legislative majority, coupled with a president, elected by the American people with which to forward proposals reflecting their socio-political agenda, just as Republicans do when they have the majority.

And in my opinion, Mr. Kushner’s level of outrage at that thought appears to reflect an increasing tendency of the American political right to stereotype people and legislation they disagree with as fundamentally “evil”, often in a religious context, and allied with shadowy figures of darkness like Communism, the Chinese (also Communists), Dr. Fauci and the medical establishment, or perhaps Satan himself, rather than simply Americans with differing social and political perspectives with whom one can negotiate toward a resolution regarding costs and details for a common American good.

Is believing in and striving toward an economically elevated common good such a sin?

Should people who believe in legislatively lending a helping hand to the less fortunate among us be characterized as shadow communists, or on a more fundamental level, evil? I don’t know, maybe we should reference the historical record of the teachings of Jesus for an answer. And while Jesus didn’t lobby for governmental legislation “to sell your possessions and give to the poor” he did threaten the withholding of heaven from those who failed to follow his instructions, and there were many given in this regard.

And on the subject of “Saviors”, including self-anointed ones, as to the rightful occupant of the White House, we’re back to square one with Mr. Kushner: “There is irrefutable evidence that voting activities occurred in 2020 in several states that were inconsistent with procedures approved by their legislatures which resulted in illegal votes that could have influenced the election outcome,” he wrote.

Opinion, Gary, not fact.

And in my editorial opinion, one verified by every court review – was it 30? – often overseen by Republican-appointed judges, and reported by reputable news sources (to some degree anyway, as opposed to online conspiracy websites) the only verified 2020 electoral fraud found by any court, or legitimate recount in any state, as I understand the reports, amounted to 12 votes here, 30 votes there, and the like – the type of individual pathological behavior fraud that occurs in every election, but not an organized institutional fraud in the numbers to have changed any state’s presidential result in 2020.

So, no matter how many places you read it, Gary – NO, the ghosts of Manuel Noriega and Fidel Castro did not rise up into 2020 voting machines to “white-out” – that’s the technology those ghosts would understand, isn’t it?!? – millions of Trump voters. Didn’t happen – and that IS my opinion, but one based in a factual, not an “alternate factual”, universe.

And while I have a hunch, you won’t agree no matter how many state courts and state legislatures contradict your opinion, I think we have both sufficiently made our respective cases – and will just have to agree to disagree.

Consequently, I have editorially recommended that publication of our conflicting perspectives on reality and journalism end here.

 

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Why Poor Self-discipline Can Destroy You

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When you are self-disciplined, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. When you are undisciplined, you can’t even get started.

Self-discipline is one of those things that we all have, but few of us practice.

Have you ever thought about how much your life would change if you were more disciplined?

How would you feel if you lost weight, got healthier, or made more money if you just set goals and made a plan?

If you are lacking in self-discipline, you’re missing out on a lot. We all need discipline. It’s required for our daily lives.

Self-discipline is what allows people to get things done. Whether you’re a professional athlete or a college student, you need the self-discipline to succeed in life.

But there’s a flip side to self-discipline. You can either use it to achieve your goals or let it get in the way.

There’s nothing worse than being a slave to your own bad habits. Most people fail in life because they don’t discipline themselves enough to do what they need to do to succeed.

Bad habits can ruin your life, and there’s no way around them. Even if you want to change, it’s not easy. You must be very strong-willed to overcome these habits and start a new life.

Keep reading, and we’ll talk about how to beat your bad habits so that you can create the life you deserve.

In the world of psychology and personal development, we see a lot of people struggling with self-control and self-discipline.

They might not be able to control themselves enough to stay on track with the things they need to accomplish in life, so they wind up in situations where they feel like they’ve been defeated.

Self-discipline is difficult for many people to grasp, and most of us have been trained to believe that discipline and self-control are mutually exclusive.

This is one reason why so many people struggle with being able to control themselves and manage their own lives. They might give up on self-discipline and self-control, which they believe they’ll never have to deal with, and they wind up with situations where they’re incapable of controlling themselves, which they then get frustrated over and angry at.

It’s important to understand that self-discipline is an ability that all people have. It’s just that they’re not doing anything with it, or they’re not using it properly.

What’s important is that you’re able to use your self-discipline and self-control to help you live your life. You can’t just sit back and expect that someone else will take care of everything for you, and you can’t always rely on luck to pull through for you.

If you do, then you’re in trouble, and you’ll never be able to grow to your full potential. You need to have some sort of plan in place and be able to stick to it and follow it through. You also need to be able to handle any challenges that arise along the way.

Bad Habits Can Ruin Your Life

Some people have a tendency to make the same mistakes over and over again. These people might not even realize that they’re doing it.

In fact, they don’t even realize that they’re doing it, until it’s too late. The bad habits these people have become addicted to are ones that they’ve done for years and are now part of their subconscious, and they aren’t aware that they’re doing it.

They’re doing it unconsciously, and they might be able to identify why they do it, but they just don’t want to change. If you’re one of these people, you’ll have to devise a plan to beat the habit.

If you’re a smoker, you might have been smoking for years. You might be able to give reasons for why you do it, but if you were to try quitting, you’d realize just how difficult it is. It might be easier to just quit cold turkey.

It might be difficult to quit something like smoking, but it’s not impossible. You just need to put in the effort and willpower, and you’ll eventually be able to break the habit.

It’s possible to stop doing the habit altogether, but you need to be dedicated to stopping it completely. Don’t just go through the motions of trying to quit. If you don’t stop, then you’ll find yourself back at the same old point, and you’ll be repeating yourself and setting yourself up for failure.

You don’t want to do that. Your whole purpose in life should be to quit and never go back to being a habitual smoker. You shouldn’t set yourself up for failure because you’re hard-headed.

You’ve seen people who are addicted to drugs, but they’ll tell you that it’s a choice they make. They’re able to quit, but it’s a struggle because they can’t seem to break the habit.

It’s much harder to break a habit than it is to form one. While it’s true that habits can be formed, it’s almost impossible to break them. People do things over and over again because they’ve been doing them for years, and it’s ingrained in their subconscious.

When you’re able to break the habit, you’ll feel like a new person. It might take you a few days, weeks, or months to get to that point, but it’s worth it. You’ll be able to do a lot more with your life once you finally get past that point.

You Need Self-Discipline To Succeed In Life

If you were asked to think back to your childhood, you might remember a few things that you used to do and enjoy. Maybe you were a picky eater, or you had a short attention span. These habits might not be anything that would ever really stand out in your adult mind as being too problematic.

But they could be, and when it comes to breaking free of bad habits, it’s something that can easily happen. The only way to break these habits is to be aware of them, and to realize that you need to be disciplined enough to rid yourself of them.

Self-discipline is an incredibly important part of your life, and it is what will allow you to make changes that you might not be able to otherwise. There are a lot of things that you can’t control in your life, but you can control yourself and your choices.

In other words, you can’t control the world around you, but you can control how you react to things that happen to you and how you respond to people and situations.

If you have any type of addiction or a bad habit, then you can’t just “get over it” and magically forget about it. Your self-discipline has to be strong enough to let you put your bad habits to rest, and to let you change your lifestyle in order to do so.

If you don’t believe in yourself, then you won’t do it. It’s as simple as that. You need to have faith in yourself, and you need to see yourself as worthy of doing things that you normally wouldn’t have the desire to do.

You can’t just want to do something and have it magically come to fruition, because it never will. You need to make it happen. If you want to do it, you’ll need to be the one to actually do it.

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Dr. Damian Fedoryka will be remembered and treasured with deep gratitude

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On Wednesday, around 3:00 pm, there may be a traffic jam downtown because an hour earlier at St John the Baptist Church will have been the final farewell to a remarkable man, Dr. Damian Fedoryka. His extraordinary life was a connection here in Front Royal to a piece of history we don’t usually think about.

Damian Fedoryka was born in the Carpathian Mountains of Western Ukraine on November 2, 1940. By the time he was four, his father was in Auschwitz concentration camp. His mother could tell that the Russian occupation was inevitable, so she fled with Damian, his sister Marta, and baby brother Leo. His brother Leo “Levko” died in their walk to freedom from dysentery and was buried in a field by a farmer’s house. The trauma burned the memory into Damian’s mind, and years later, he returned to the same spot with some of his own children to finally complete the grieving process. When the war ended, the family was reunited in a Displaced Persons camp outside of Regensburg, Germany.

In 1948 they arrived in the United States, where Damian cleaned the poop out of their first home: a re-purposed chicken coop in someone’s back yard. The Catholic education system was still strong in those days, so the children were able to attend Catholic schools. They were in Mahwah, New Jersey, by the time Damian got a scholarship to Regis High School in New York City, and for four years, he rode the train an hour each way to attend. After high school, he got another scholarship to the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. There, he and other poor students lived with an old Ukrainian priest whose kindness he remembered his whole life.

After college, like the good American he was, Damian joined the Army and became a second lieutenant. The night before he was going to accept a permanent commission and deploy to Vietnam, he went to a dance at a Ukrainian community in New York City and met Irene Kondra, so he decided to stay in New York and pursue a Master’s Degree in Philosophy at Fordham University, and then a Ph.D. in Salzburg, Germany. He and Irene were married in 1966 and went on to have ten children. She died in 2010.

He taught at the University of Rhode Island and the University of Dallas, and in 1985_ he became President of Christendom College here in Front Royal. It was under his leadership that Christendom retired its earlier debt, built two new residence halls, and received its first full accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. These significant accomplishments created the foundation that allowed Christendom to launch its subsequent growth.

But Damian Fedoryka was called to do more. When Communism fell in Ukraine, he returned to his native land to help open the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv in 1992 – the first Catholic university to open on the territory of the former Soviet Union and the first university ever opened by an Eastern Catholic Church. He also taught philosophy at Franciscan University of Steubenville (Gaming Campus in Austria) and at Ave Maria College in Michigan. Soon after the passing of his beloved wife, he moved back to Front Royal, where several of his children had settled. He was the oldest member of Saints Joachim and Anna Ukrainian Catholic Parish on Linden Street in Front Royal.

All who met him knew him as a kind and patient man and a sage to countless people right up to the end. He leaves behind a close-knit family spread across the country: ten children and their spouses, thirty-five grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and thousands of former students. His sons Alexander and Danylo are the founders of the Celtic/folk/rock band Scythian, which organizes the Appaloosa Festival to be held at Skyline Ranch Resort on Labor Day weekend.

Connie Marshner 
Front Royal

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Until we meet again, my friend

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Recently, I attended a celebration of life for my departed friend Dr. David Carter Blanton.

When Pastor Roberson opened the floor up for comment, I found myself speechless as my emotions, remembering our life growing up, overcame me.

David and I were what I might define as Rust Belt friends (friendships that survive all lapses in time). As young boys, we became friends on Doc Sherman’s field located on Sherwood Avenue on our sandlot baseball and football field, emulating our favorite pro sports teams.

On that day, he became my quarterback and helped me establish a strong moral and ethical path in life. He demonstrated strong leadership skills by keeping a bunch of unruly kids in line by enforcing etiquette.

As a young man, I remember David being interested in topics such as futuristic vehicle designs, space travel, and medical science. As an adult, he continued his thirst for knowledge about new research and technology improvements.

A brilliant person with a sense of humor who was grounded and could fit into any social setting. Many of us remember his Dentistry practice, but his real contribution was his unselfish personal contributions to community charities.

David loved his family, community, and his country. In his final days, we never got to say goodbye, but I guess that was how it was supposed to end. He was my Quarterback, and I was blessed to be part of his life. Until we meet again, my friend.

Bruce Rappaport
Front Royal, Virginia

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3 Questions to Ask Yourself Every Day

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We’ve all heard the saying “if you don’t ask, you don’t get.” But what if we took that to another level and made the question into a daily habit? What if we asked ourselves three questions every day to improve our lives?

We’ve all been there before. Whether it was the day of our first job interview or a huge promotion, we’ve all had those moments where we felt nervous or anxious.

While some people thrive in these situations, others find themselves totally paralyzed. We’ve all had those days where we felt like giving up and just decided to quit. But here’s the good news: we don’t have to be like that.

In our fast-paced world, there is a constant barrage of information, advice, and tips from all kinds of sources.

This is especially true when it comes to self-improvement. We’re bombarded with so much information about personal development, that it can become hard to decide which bits of information are really worth putting into practice.

Luckily, we’ve put together a list of three questions you can ask yourself to help you choose what to focus on and what not to worry about.

Question #1: “Am I doing what I love?”

When you’re starting out in life, it can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine of getting through the day. It seems like a lot of people are happy just going through the motions of life, but that can’t be the case.

It’s important to remember that life isn’t just about doing something you enjoy, but also being passionate about it. After all, no one ever becomes successful in life without putting in a lot of work, but that doesn’t mean you have to put in an equally large amount of work.

The key is to find what you really enjoy doing, and then take it to the next level. If you’re not sure what that means, try to look at your current job, and think about where you can make it better or even completely change the game altogether.

This will allow you to become successful in the long run, and you’ll find that you’re not only doing something you enjoy, but also something you’re passionate about. Don’t do anything just because you think you have to, because that will only make you miserable and unsatisfied.

Once you find something you love, you’ll realize that you’re on the right track to achieving your goals. The key is to keep yourself on track with the things you enjoy doing, and you can make it a reality.

Question #2: “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Many people tend to live in fear of failing or making a mistake. They think that if they fail, it will define them for life.

In reality, failure isn’t anything terrible. It’s simply an opportunity to learn. If you want to succeed in anything, the most important thing to keep in mind is that whatever you do will either be a success or a failure.

You’re only as good as your last attempt, and that means that you’re only as bad as your last attempt. If you fail at your last attempt, then you can still be successful overall.

Think of your success or failure as a game. If you play the game with integrity, you’re able to move forward and try again. You’re able to improve and become a better player in your particular game.

If you lose the game, it’s okay. It’s actually a good thing because you’re able to learn from your mistakes and figure out what you did wrong. It’s a chance to improve, and if you lose, you’re able to come back and get better.

It’s only when you don’t learn from your mistakes that you find yourself repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

Sometimes, when we’re working towards something, we get caught up in the excitement of it all and fail to take any precautions.

We’re always afraid of the worst that could happen, and in order to help ourselves get over that fear, we need to remind ourselves of what’s most likely to happen.

It’s easy to get too far ahead of ourselves and think we’ve already accomplished our goal. We get excited about the idea, and then just assume that everything will go as planned.

However, this doesn’t always happen that way. What’s worse is if we assume the worst-case scenario, and end up failing miserably because of that assumption.

Instead, what you need to do is make sure that you’ve already thought through the worst-case scenario so that you don’t fall victim to it. In order to do that, you should try to look at things in detail, so you can plan for them.

If you’re trying to make a new goal, you can start with a simple goal of what you want to achieve. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have a goal in mind.

Next, you’ll want to ask yourself what the worst-case scenario might be. Think about what’s most likely to happen, and then try to figure out how to deal with it.

For example, if you’re trying to get a new job, you might think that it’s going to be really difficult, but what you need to do is try to find out whether or not it is. You might discover that the job market is pretty slow right now, or that you need to do more in order to stand out and get noticed.

If you know that you need to do more, then you can start working on that instead. Instead of thinking that you’ll never be able to get the job, you can just focus on the fact that it’s still possible, and then start to work towards that goal.

This will help you stay focused on what you need to do, and you’ll be able to avoid getting discouraged by the fact that it might not be as easy as you’d hoped. By taking the time to prepare for the worst, you’ll be better prepared for the outcome of your goal.

Question #3: “What good have I done today?”

Many people don’t ever think about the importance of their accomplishments, and that’s a big mistake. Your life is only as good as the actions you take every day, and you can be proud of how you conduct yourself in every situation.

When you look back on the course of your life, you’ll realize that no matter what you’ve accomplished, it pales in comparison to what you’ve done to change other people’s lives.

You’ve gone out of your way to make a difference in other people’s lives, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. It’s something that most people can’t even fathom, and that’s why it’s so important to be conscious of your accomplishments and to celebrate them whenever you can.

You don’t have to be a doctor or a professor or anything to make a difference in the world, and that’s something that you should embrace and embrace wholeheartedly.

It’s one of the best things you can do to raise your own self-esteem and bring out your inner happiness. You’re here to make a difference in the world, and you’re only as good as the impact you’re making on others.

Grow A Little Every Day

Life is made up of lots of little moments. They pass by quickly but we should be conscious of every single one of them. Our lives are not perfect and neither are our days. We make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes turn into disasters.

Every day, I try to focus on a few small things that I can do to make my life a little bit better, a little bit brighter.

Even though I may fail a lot, I’m still going to continue doing what I can to grow my life.

Just like every little leaf that grows, I am trying to be more aware of the little things I can do every day to help make my life a little better, a little brighter.

Let’s learn from our past and try to improve our future.

There are two types of people in this world – those who grow and those who don’t. It is your choice which one you want to be.

A person who never changes will never go anywhere. They’ll spend their whole lives where they are today. They won’t progress or change.

The one who grows little by little every day will grow stronger every day. They’ll become wiser and better with every passing day.

So, who wants to be a person who doesn’t grow? There’s nothing more boring and uninteresting than someone who’s not growing and changing.

Who wants to be stagnant? No one!

But if you want to be stagnant, then you’ll be the same person you were yesterday. You’ll never move forward in life.

It’s up to you – do you want to be stagnant or do you want to grow?

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Touched by another’s kindness

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We live in an age where world news is increasingly negative. In our nation’s largest cities, neighbors openly prey upon one another in the name of ideology over humanity. Yet against that dismal backdrop, I was reminded yesterday how lucky I am to live in the Shenandoah Valley. That reminder was given to me by a beautiful little girl.

I was driving down the 340, nearing my home in Bentonville when, to the best of my knowledge, the engine in my truck blew up. With a big shuddering “thunk” smoke filled the cabin and the vehicle controls locked up. I was able to yank left, cross the oncoming lane and aim for an empty parking lot, stomping the brakes.  The truck shuddered to a smoking rest in front of a small ice cream shop.

People were seated only yards away; until my dramatic arrival they had been enjoying ice cream on a quiet afternoon. Among them was a lovely mom and her small daughter. I noticed that the girl was tugging her mom’s hand, pulling her towards me. They were talking to each other; mom looked at me, then nodded to the child. They walked up.

Mom explained that the little girl’s response to seeing me skid to a stop was neither fear nor alarm, but to bow her head and pray that I was safe inside. When I emerged from the smoke intact, the girl then asked her mom if they could come over and let me know she would keep praying for me in my time of trouble.

I was taught as a boy that angels watch over us; that they walk among us. Today my angel stood just a couple feet tall, with a shy smile and a kindness that put everything else into perspective. I was touched beyond words and hope by some chance this gives me the opportunity to say thank you.

Michael Marks
Bentonville, Virginia

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Opinion

The Abortion Decision

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historically speaking

Few court cases have been as controversial in the United States as 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision. It has become one of the major touchstones in American politics ever since. As controversial as it is, the fact that a shift in power on the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade has led to a great deal of political and legal turmoil. A lot of the frustration concerns how a modern court can just overturn a previous court’s decision simply because of a shift in ideology. However, historically speaking, this is not new. There have been reversals in the Supreme Court before that were just as controversial and saw as much an attack against the high court as the recent Roe reversal.

First, the law. The decision did not make abortions illegal. It simply put the decision for legality back to the states where it had been before 1973. Elected legislators will now make the decisions, not the courts. The U. S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, claimed the original Roe v. Wade was not made on Constitutional grounds, as the Constitution does not mention abortion. Nor does any federal law or common law. The idea is that a federal law allowing abortion should be made by Congress, not the courts. Until then, the Supreme Court said it should be a state issue. According to the Tenth Amendment, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

As I said, this is not the first time the Supreme Court overturned a decision from a previous court and one that brought about a similar emotional response. The case was the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education that overturned the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case that allowed for segregation. In that infamous 1896 case, the court ruled that segregation was legal if separate and equal accommodations were made. In other words, you could deny Black children admittance to White schools if an equal Black school was provided.

There are some similarities between the Brown decision and the current one. In both cases, a Republican president made a new judicial appointment after an extended time of Democratic leadership. With the Roe case, Trump’s appointment of Amy Barrett tipped the balance of the Supreme Court from left to right. The Brown decision was a bit different as the entire Supreme Court was appointed by Democrats after the five terms of Roosevelt and Truman when Dwight D. Eisenhower won the presidency. Yet even with a completely Democratic court, there was still a deep division. Unlike today, the parties were not completely ideological on one side. Roosevelt did not start off his presidency on the far left and many in the party, especially in the south where Democrats had been the strongest for the longest period, still held conservative views. As such, the Supreme Court was not so much divided between two parties as it was divided on the role of the high court. While the entire court were “New Dealers,” half of the court believed it was not the job of the court to make policy, only to interpret the law. The other half, however, were more activists who believed the courts should play a role in civil liberty.

The change happened when Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson died, and the newly elected Republican President Eisenhower appointed Earl Warren as Chief Justice. Vinson had supported the “separate but equal” clause in Plessy and ordered schools like the University of Oklahoma to allow Ada Lois Sipuel, a Black woman, entrance into law school because there was not an equal facility in the state for her. Yet it was Warren who turned the court to a majority of activist judges and went as far as ruling segregation illegal in Brown.

Where the two cases continue to have similarities is in the fall-out. Legally, Warren and the Supreme Court took a hit, being accused of trying to overtake the role of Congress and going against the will of the people’s elected representatives. Nineteen Senators and 81 Representatives wrote the “Southern Manifesto,” stating, “We regard the decision of the Supreme Court in the school cases as a clear abuse of judicial power. It climaxes a trend in the Federal judiciary undertaking to legislate, in derogation of the authority of Congress, and to encroach upon the reserved rights of the States and the people. The original Constitution does not mention education. Neither does the 14th amendment nor any other amendment. The debates preceding the submission of the 14th amendment clearly show that there was no intent that it should affect the systems of education maintained by the States. The very Congress which proposed the amendment subsequently provided for segregated schools in the District of Columbia.”

More interesting was the end of the Manifesto, which makes similar arguments as pro-abortion advocates today: “With the gravest concern for the explosive and dangerous condition created by this decision and inflamed by outside meddlers; We reaffirm our reliance on the Constitution as the fundamental law of the land. We decry the Supreme Court’s encroachments on rights reserved to the States and to the people, contrary to established law and to the Constitution. We commend the motives of those States which have declared the intention to resist forced integration by any lawful means. We pledge ourselves to use all lawful means to bring about a reversal of this decision which is contrary to the Constitution and to prevent the use of force in its implementation.” Like today, the arguments are about the courts taking away the rights of the people.

Please note that I am not arguing for or against abortion or calling pro-abortion advocates the same as 1950s racists. Yet, historically speaking, we have seen similar Supreme Court decisions that brought about just as much contention and fighting about the role of the courts, especially when changing a law that has been around for so long.


Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha. He is Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog.

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