Friday, February 27, 2009

Heaven knocks all too soon.

A well-known mother in my small hometown just died of cancer. Her teenage children mourn her absence.

A daughter in my church back home perished in a snowmobiling accident last week. She had two small children.

A friend's fellow church member recently committed suicide, leaving his wife and three young children behind.

I didn't personally know any of these people. I selfishly thank God for having no such grief and heartbreak in my life. Then my thoughts turn to the families and friends of those lost and I can't bring myself even to begin to imagine or picture what such a life-wrenching event would be like.

I remember very well the woman from my hometown. She had cute kids with bright blonde hair just like hers. While I didn't see her often enough to miss her whenever I visit home, I'll always look at her kids with a sorrowful heart. She'll miss their graduations, weddings, birthdays, and her own future grandchildren.

Her kids won't ever again wake up to her making pancakes, nor will they again catch a glimpse of her stuffing Christmas stockings. They won't have that encouraging face on their first day of college or see her tears of joy on their wedding day.

The same void will cast a shadow over the lives of the other three families.

Their spouses said "I do" with visions of a lifetime together. They weren't expecting "until death do you part" to become real for several long and beautiful decades.

Death takes away life and sometimes inspires new life. It has this strange power over mortal humans make us double-check priorities and relationships. Today I'm thinking of those families often, but in a week will I feel so connected, or will I become raveled up and tangled in my own life once again?

Death makes us think outside our own lives. For a few minutes or a few days the world shatters and falls around us. We either grieve for a loved one or grieve with a loved one.

In a few years those families will have coped with their astounding lost and while their hearts will be tender, they will be healed. All we can do is be their support and pray for peace in their lives.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

NUMB3RS

I don't like math because I'm not good at it. Plain and simple. Despite my distaste for graphing calculators and whatever else math people do, I appreciate the powerful ability of numbers to universally communicate a message when words aren't enough.

Below is a list of stats from a book I recently finished, "The Sea Is So Wide and My Boat Is So Small, The: Charting a Course for the Next Generation" by Children's Defense Fund President Marian Wright Edelman.

I understand that coming down on the U.S. is easy for other countries and Americans alike because it's the "superpower" or whatever, and blaming the big kid is the quick and easy band-aid when someone gets a black eye. Regardless, these stats point a finger at U.S. legislators (and partly U.S. citizens) for losing sight of the big picture.

Excerpt (p. 93):

"Is this country living its creed and preparing for the future?


How America Ranks Among Industrialized Countries in Investing In and Protecting Children

1st in gross domestic product

1st in number of billionaires in the world

1st in number of persons incarcerated

1st in health expenditures

1st in military technology

1st in defense expenditures

1st in military weapons exports

22nd in low birth weight rates

25th in infant mortality rates

High in relative child poverty

High in the gap between the rich and the poor

High in teen (age 15 - 19) birthrates

Last in protecting children against gun violence

The United States of America and Somalia (which has no legally constituted government) are the only two United Nations members that have failed to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

....

If we compare just black child well-being to children in other nations:

62 nations have lower infant mortality rates, including Sri Lanka.

Over 100 nations have lower birth weight rates, including Algeria, Botswana, and Panama.

Black women in the U.S. are more likely to die from complications of pregnancy or childbirth than women in Turkmenistan."

Interpret the information as you like.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My three favorite letters


Ah, SGA...how you bring such joy to my heart.

My own pride sucked me into the SGA drama vortex in my freshman year when I became vice president of my class. I didn't return to SGA after that year but being on the school paper and maintaining SGA-born friendships means I still hear a lot of stuff about SGA, good and bad.

SGA executive elections take place next week. The positions up for grabs are president, veep, men's campus coordinator, women's campus coordinator, executive secretary and executive treasure. But everyone knows the hot ticket is the spot for president.

I'll refrain from recounting the horror stories from the last two or three SGA executive elections and instead say my piece about this one. I think a lot of people are unaware of a few different things going on.

1. SGA is an extra-curricular activity. Yes, it's important, but hand painting enormous signs isn't worth it, and neither is asking for campaign moola from Campbell graduates. I doubt they give really a crap.

2. What would you say if George Bush ran again under a campaign of "change"? You'd say that's pretty silly-- how could he make so much change after already being in office for so long. Consider the slogan of select SGA candidates and question it against the time they've already been in the higher echelons of SGA.

3. To clarify number one, although SGA should not be anyone's life substance, it's a unique combination of legitimate student voice and an honest example when higher ups say they listen to students. It's easy to say administrators never listen, but think more critically-- administrators have kids either our age or older than us, and a few of Campbell's administrators were once students here. I doubt their hearts are frozen over. That said, if students are going to give up just because they think no one listens the first time around, then we don't deserve representation before decision makers.

Campbell students hear a lot of bad press about SGA. Sometimes it's because SGA shot itself in the foot and other times it's because someone's running their mouth. Anyway, I think students don't see the good guys (and gals) in SGA who aren't there for a the reputation, resume booster, or opportunity to dress up. I personally know many SGA members who genuinely want to represent us and improve our school because they love it, not because they have something to prove to the world.

I guess my point is that even though certain people in SGA give it a bad name, we should still appreciate its value and purpose and support those in it for the good fight.

Elections are Tuesday, Feb. 24 in front of D-Rich.