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Front Page » October 19, 2004 » Opinion » Opinion
Published 3,664 days ago

Opinion


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate community editor

During my last two years of high school I decided to take debate largely because my year doing oratory in competition as a sophomore was a big disaster. I realized that I was better speaking on my feet rather than giving a long prepared rendition of something I had written. I thought debate looked like fun and of course being a teenager with a short view of things it also looked like much less work.

I was right about the fun part, but not about the work part. To be a good debater a person must prepare, prepare, prepare and prepare some more.

Debate taught me how to truly do research, particularly record research. As a high school student trying to deal with a national topic it was difficult to find authorities on a subject who would talk with me so I could do primary work, but record research became second hand after while.

While I don't remember a lot of specifics about the debates I and my partner engaged in 35 years later, I do remember one lesson I learned from the experience. That lesson is if you tell a fib, even unknowingly, it will catch up with you.

My senior year (1969-70) the national topic for high school debate was something like "Should the United States enter into unilateral military action in other parts of the world when the need is deemed necessary by congress." Now if you're an old debater who worked with that topic that year you know that the debate really turned out to be a drawn out discussion about whether the United States should be in Vietnam or not. It was a profound topic for a bunch of young men and women whose numbers might have to face the prospects of going into that conflict a year or two down the road.

About halfway through the season I remember that I found this great quote from a well known Federal source that basically said the formulative basis for such unilateral action was unwarranted. I can't remember the source of the words or the exact quote, but I do remember the jist of it.

The next week we were debating Highland High School's team and my partner and I were assigned the negative side of the debate for our first match of the day. The other team was very good and pulled out strong evidence in favor of unilateral intervention. When it was my time to rebut them, I pulled out my little file card and used it as my basis for why our government should not be able to intervene in such situations. I was glib, had facts and of course that strong quote from a well know authority. I thought sure we had won.

But the next time the Highland team got up to speak, my opponent pulled out the basically the same quote, but slightly changed enough to have exactly the opposite meaning. I was infuriated as he used it. Then he pointed out that he had pulled the quote directly from the original source, I believe it was from Newsweek or Time. I on the other hand had pulled the quote from a Readers Digest article that had condensed the same story a year later. They had also condense the quote as well. He pointed that fact out and I was skewed by the judges eyes right then and there. I knew we had lost that debate because I had unknowingly taken something out of context because another source told me it was so.

Debate in high school is not only about sources and information, it is also about style, the ability to parry an opponents arguments and good summation.

For the last three weeks we, the American public, have been subjected to three debates between the presidential candidates and one between the vice presidential hopefuls. After every debate the television stations have taken polls of citizens about who won each debate. Each time the numbers often look like the polls that were taken before the debate about who people were going to vote for. Presidential debates seldom change the minds of people who are solidly in one camp or the other, but they do serve to show the people running in a bit different light, and give the American public a chance to hear questions answered and counter answered with both candidates in the same room. The only groups votes affected are usually the undecided voters.

The problem with these debates, however, are the facts. In every debate, but particularly in the third debate in Tempe, Ariz., there were scads of "facts" that came out of each candidates mouth. Usually those facts referred to the others record, what has happened during their tenure or some number that was generated by some agency somewhere buried well within the bureaucracy of the Federal government. In the past these facts, being so voluminous, were often passed over for scrutiny except by a few experts who might hear one or two they were privy to because of their position in some obscure Federal or state agency. And for any kind of dispute of those facts to get out to the public was even more remote.

Today, however, with the advent of our multi-media and computer generated data bases, a number of independent fact finding agencies exist and within a couple of hours of the debates, they can tell you every piece of data or "fact" that the candidates may have intentionally or unintentionally fudged on.

In the case of these debates, there were volumes of facts, on many kinds of subjects, that both candidates got wrong, either on purpose, by miscue, misinterpretation or from pure lack of knowledge. Like that judge who looked at me in a classroom at Highland High in the winter of 1970, I view this kind of behavior from both candidates as very suspect. Forget style, smoothness, passion, or any other factor you want to throw in, if someone can't tell the truth and get the facts straight in a public debate, he either ought to fire his staff for giving him false or skewed information, or examine his own set of ethics for knowingly using false statements to make a point.

For me, this debate was not so much about Kerry vs. Bush but about the truth and I wasn't satisfied with either mans propensity to tell it. It doesn't matter whether you wrap it in an ivy league smothered smooth championship debate style or in a country like, down home package, a misconception, a piece of misinformation, a manipulated statistic, or maybe we should call it by what it really is, a lie, doesn't sit well with me.

Because of this, I feel neither one of these men won the debates, and now all we have to chose from are third party candidates, who never got the chance to tell their "truths" or two men who I am not sure I can trust.


Most human beings have points in their lives where they cannot be pushed beyond without losing emotional balance. We are all different and most of us are around people all day. I have seen some people troubled through 10 or 20 years of their lives, and then all of a sudden, one day, one crisis pushes them over the edge and they begin to come unraveled. I have also seen others who get pushed over the line by a simple incident or problem. There are also those who go through life, handling each thing as it happens and staying calm and steady through some very difficult situations. On top of that they truly appear to be happy.

I have often wondered what causes one person to be pushed off balance more easily than someone else. There are certain times of the year that things begin to pile up in my life and during these periods I have to think things through and carefully prioritize everything.

When we say "peace of mind" that's what we really mean, inner stability. It takes an awful lot to push stable people off their balance. I think this depends a great deal upon the kind of parents that we were given in the first place. Infancy and childhood can be full of emotional struggles, frustrations, conflicts and fears. I grew up in this kind of environment and it took 20 years of adulthood (and a lot of therapy) to help change my thinking. My early adult life is definitely affected by the number and kinds of struggles I had to face in my infancy and childhood.

What I have learned is that it's not the struggles that cause the problems, it's my reactions to these experiences of life.

I have found that every single bit of behavior is directed toward fulfilling some important need such as something to do, someone to love or something to hope for. If we could always have complete fulfillment in one of these three areas I doubt if I would ever break down. However who could expect, let alone hope for, a life of complete fulfillment?

Since frustration exists for everyone, why do some people have nervous breakdowns, go insane, live miserable lives, rely on drugs or alcohol, while others go merrily through life?

The secret I have come to believe is not learning to solve any one individual problem, but to reinforce my stability (mostly inside) to such a degree that I am able to face the problems that come my way, no matter what they may be, without going to pieces.

These problems help shape our personalities and build our attitudes.

The biggest lesson I have learned is that there are no big deals. But here are a few things that cross my mind as I think of how my personality has been reshaped as I grow older.

I try never to be a slave to anxiety and fear. This is the greatest destroyer of happiness. We cause anxiety. It is our thinking that does it. What we think about grows and expands, so if we think sad and overwhelmed, we usually find ourselves sad and overwhelmed. I have heard that every person who has a nervous breakdown struggles with fear. Fear tortures the mind, kills the appetite, destroys health and ruins lives.

To be happy I must think happy. There are people who decorate the rooms of their minds with awful skeletons or ghosts of yesterday. I have them too and if I were to deal with the neglect and abuse of my childhood I would still live in the fear of that home. However, I have learned how to decorate my mind today with nicer thoughts, brighter wallpaper and more pleasant surroundings.

Enjoy yourself. One thing is that we are all truly equal. We all get the same 24 hours a day. The richest people don't get any more or any less. I have found that no matter what looms ahead, if I can eat today, enjoy the sunlight or the rain today, mix in a bit of good cheer with friends just for today, then I am today.

Sanity is difficult to preserve unless I have a strength deep within me. This strength can be achieved. I remind myself that its not so much what happens to me that makes me what I am, its how I take it.

And finally the sunshine of the soul is laughter. Some peoples' problems appear insurmountable. But I truly believe that once I understand that every problem has a solution and it often takes a sense of humor to help find the solutions.

Looking for peace of mind? Look inside.


Editor:

In the past several weeks, I have become concerned about a number of unwary drivers in the area. Lacking any kind of awareness, they drive to and fro, from place to place without watching where they're going.

The thing that really bothers me is the one thing nearly all of these people have in common: cell phones. They all have one hand on the phone (pressed tightly to their ear) , and the other hand on the steering wheel, and rarely put much effort into where they're going. A good majority of them are younger drivers (late teens or early twenties) and, unfortunately, are giving the rest of us younger adults (myself being 23) a bad rap.

We all know cell phones are a distraction when we're driving. If the phone is in use, the car should be parked.... period. If the driver can't pull over, then hand the phone to the passenger, or don't take the call.

Cell phones can cause many kinds of distractions (in formal settings, etc), but a distracted driver is more than a simple irritation, he or she is a safety threat.

I'm not against cell phones... in fact, I find them to be very practical - if used properly. However, in my book, using a headset (thus, freeing one hand from the phone) is not an acceptable solution. The phone is a distraction no matter how it's used.

If you're a parent who has children with cell phones, please talk to them about the dangers of using a cell phone while behind the wheel. If you're a responsible cell phone user, I appreciate your responsibility.


Editor:

When our truck broke down over Labor Day weekend we experienced small town hospitality at it's best - from the stranger who towed us in to Tracy the policeman who helped us find a church and rental car. Also in that list is Jessica at the rental place who brought it to us (on a holiday weekend!). Also to the crew at the local car dealership (Jesse, Josh & Mike especially) who went out of their way to get us back on the road as quickly as possible. Then there were the waitresses, store clerks and hotel personnel who were all concerned about our situation and showed it in many ways and especially to our new found "family" at Freedom Christian Fellowship; Tim, Patty and Krystal.

You have a community you can be proud of because of people like these. We will never be able to pass by Price again and not be reminded of the kindness shown to us, we will recommend to all our friends traveling in that area to stop and stay a few days and experience friendliness that is out of the common place in this day and age we live in.

God bless your town.


Editor:

With so many issues facing voters in the upcoming election a clear straight forward stand on key issues may help many decide which candidates to vote for. It is obvious that the first duty of government is to protect innocent human life. Without this protection all other rights have no value. For example, if a candidate said they were for terrorist acts, against innocent Americans, most Americans wouldn't ask them what their positions on the economy, education, or healthcare is. The fact they are for terrorist acts against innocent Americans should completely disqualify them regardless of how good their other positions are.

In light of this reasoning a Catholic defense organization called Catholic answers has issued a voters guide based on the unchanging doctrines of the Church. There are five non-negotiable issues. These five current issues concern actions that must never be promoted by the law and can never be deliberately performed. No candidate who really wants to advance the common good will support any action contrary to the non-negotiable principles involved in these issues. These issues are abortion, euthanasia, embroyonic stem cell research, human cloning and homosexual "marriage."

Though many Americans have all but forgotten about the millions killed by abortion, an honest look at what an abortion is, and at how many victims it claims, is enough to reveal that nothing outweighs its gravity among the many "life issues." Multiple Church documents have confirmed this insight, repeating over and over that the abortion tragedy demands urgent attention and priority and being wrong on abortion outweighs being right on other issues."

The full truth is, if you are wrong on abortion, you can't be right on other issues. To permit abortion, but then to cry out for the right to work, housing, education, health care, and so forth, is to say that these other rights belong to some people but not to all. They obviously do not belong to those who were snuffed out by abortion. Therefore, these rights cannot be human rights, because you have already said that not all humans have a claim on them. This trivializes those other rights and puts them on an obscure and questionable foundation. If you permit abortion, then, on what basis do you defend the other rights.

When one is wrong on abortion, one cannot be right on anything else.


Editor:

I trust I am not the only one seeing a number of inconsistencies in Ben Cohen's article, "Contrasting tragedies," in the Sept. 28 issue of the Sun Advocate.

He states that after World War II, " 130 countries promised to prevent genocide if it occurred anywhere in the world ever again." Why then were there not 130 countries willing to confront Saddam Hussein over the genocide in Iraq? Surely there were many articles published and first person accounts over many years of the killing not only of minority groups but also of those who found disfavor in Hussein's eyes.

Mr. Cohen wants our president to plead with the United Nations to save the people of the Sudan. Has he forgotten that Kofi Annan and Colin Powell went to the Sudan together to assess the situation? What has come of that effort? I have yet to see the United Nations taking any significant steps to alleviate the suffering there. Actually, this is not the first time that there has been genocide in the Sudan. Where was the outcry, from those 130 countries, the United Nations, our previous president, or even the Rev. Jesse Jackson when Muslim Sudanese were killing Christian Sudanese?

Where were the United Nations or those 130 countries that felt so strongly about genocide when the Tutsis and Hutus were killing each other in Rwanda? Did they think that was just a harmless disagreement among countrymen? What about Nigeria, Liberia, and the Cote d' Ivoire? Ask the survivors of the "Killing Fields" in Cambodia what was done to help them and by whom. Ask Indian minorities in our neighbor to the south, Mexico, about genocide. They might not define it for you but they certainly could describe its characteristics.

Mr. Cohen rails against President Bush for going to war in Iraq and yet he wants him, in essence, to do that in the Sudan. He seems to think the United Nations which failed to support us vis-a-vis Iraq would do so vis-a-vis Sudan. I, for one, fail to see the logic in either of these lines of reasoning. I have great sympathy for those who are suffering currently in the Sudan, but I think Mr. Cohen, if he cannot come up with a better assessment, should stick to making ice cream.


Editor:

"If we learn nothing from history, we're condemned to repeat it," said George Santayana, the American philosopher.

James Madison observed, "the people never give up their freedom except under some delusion."

What could aid a tyrannical insider megalomaniac in creating such a delusion, better than a crisis, natural or planned?

Power driven politicians have throughout history, sought methods to keep them in power.

The power ruse is as ancient as Nero's exploitation of the fire in Rome in 64 A.D. - to fuel the persecution of Christians - started by agent provocatures.

Hitler used provocatures in the burning of the Reichstag (parliament) in 1933 to push through his, "enabling act." The beginning of the end of freedom in Germany. Now comes September 11th.

Along with the rest of our nation, we paused to grieve over the many innocent lives that were lost last year in a terrible tragedy. Our hearts go out to the families of those who perished.

However, because the 'seepage in' of political poison fruit, we have a special responsibility, like agent provocatures in Germany pushing through Hitler's "enabling act" - America has a conniving clique of slick insiders, cynically exploiting our national tragedy-in order to push through a power grab, presented to the administration prior to September 11th- named - "Homeland security."

The power of every totalitarian state rests on a centralized militarized police force that carries out the will of a ruling elite, rather than protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens.

While the proposed homeland security department, in its present form, does not meet that description, it clearly provides the foundation to "add upon" by this and subsequent administrations.

Our constitutional system of government has proven to be the greatest system ever created. This November, we the electorate have the responsibility to elect only those to the congress who will keep their oath.

Henceforth, let's become watch dogs over our elected representatives.


Editor:

This letter is to commend the work that the Carbon County Commissioners have done to apply and receive a grant to establish a first response ambulance garage in Price city. The plot selected up to this time has been on 1st North and 1st West next to the Gas and Go station.

We have lived in this neighborhood for 25 years, and we feel the building will compliment the area and provide a faster service to Price, convenience to outlying communities and has close access to hookups for needed fiber optics from the Carbon County Sheriffs's Office, and would implement a caution/stop sign on the corner of 1st North and 1st West. If not acted upon soon, Price and Carbon County will risk losing the grant and future sites will not be as efficient.

The only real drawback is the unfortunate property dispute between the county and a current resident in this neighborhood. We hope this can be settled to the advantage of our community, and keep the garage at this site. This has now become a city-wide issue, rather than a neighborhood concern. Our commissioners need input and support for our city. We urge the citizens of Carbon County, and Price, if they have questions to contact all parties involved in the decision so that they can become better informed on the issues.

Don Marrelli from our ambulance garage, County Commissioner Milovich, and Price City Mayor Piccolo have done an excellent job of informing us with necessary details for this site.


Editor:

The Utah Department of Transportation recently held public meetings regarding their projects for U.S. Highway 6. They had a nice display including areas from Spanish Fork Canyon to Woodside and Green River. Improvements are scheduled to take place within the next 10 years. The proposed areas will improve road conditions, but where are the top priorities? Where can the most lives be saved? What about the Red Narrows of Spanish Fork Canyon?

Reader's Digest lists Highway 6 among the top five of "America's Most Dangerous Highways." While many improvements are needed, wouldn't it make sense to focus immediate efforts on the most deadly sections of this highway? The Red Narrows are definitely one of the worst places for accidents in the canyon. For the most part, these accidents consist of head-on collision, from which no one survives. This danger increases when you come around a curve to find a semi truck, or its load, lying on its side across the highway.

On Sept. 28, 2004, I asked a member of the UDOT staff about the Red Narrows being left out of the current proposal. His reply, "We'll get to it in the next 10-20 years, after the other projects are completed. Frankly, we don't know exactly how to widen that part of the highway at this time."

I was shocked! Clearly, the Red Narrows should have priority over Woodside and other long flat stretches of road with less traffic.

Why delay when so many fear that they, their children or grandchildren, might be the next fatality, the next one who will not make it out of the canyon alive. We must demand improvements for our safety. Surely there must be another solution.

With our encouragement, UDOT can solve this problem without delay. They have invited our comments as concerned citizens. Please take a moment and ask them to fix the Red Narrows area first. Also ask for a four lane highway, as the two lane with passing lane is more dangerous and will be outdated by the year 2030. Share your concerns and ideas for making this area safer for our families, friends, commuters, and travelers.


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October 19, 2004
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