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What was the “crucible event” that changed your life?

In Opinion, psychology, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized on October 30, 2013 at 9:15 am

DEER IN HEADLINES

By Gery L. Deer

GDEERDIH3Some people believe one is destined to become whatever is predetermined by their god, with all of life’s events planned in advance by some divine manifest destiny. For others, that destiny is in a constant state of change, altered by the ebb and flow of cause and effect, guided not by the hand of a supreme being but by our own choices.

Generally, however, there are some events in life that we can pinpoint as our time of transformation; a crucible, if you will. Within it, parts of us are burned away leaving a changed, newly-formed person, sometimes for the better, sometimes not.

Divorce, extended health problems, the loss of a home, personal income or a job, can all bring about emotions and primal reactions for which we are rarely well prepared. Perhaps the most powerful events that permanently change us are related to the death of someone close such as a family member, mentor or good friend.

For many the death of a loved one can be a crucible, forcing to the surface thoughts and emotions perhaps long buried, or never before experienced. How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life, but we seldom take that concept to heart.

Even as a topic of conversation, death is to be avoided. Its unmistakable finality has so marked humanity that coping with the end of life has served as a catalyst for the formation of enduring religious beliefs, some of which comfort, others frighten.

What may be surprising is that a ‘crucible event’ does not necessarily have to be a negative or unhappy experience. The same kinds of life-changing occurrence can come from positive influences as well such as the birth of a child, a marriage or sudden financial windfall.

The events themselves, however, aren’t what change us; we do that on our own. Most people don’t realize they have the power, for the most part, to alter how they react to outside influence. Feelings are generated by thoughts, so if we control our thoughts, we can better manage our feelings and make more productive decisions during difficult times. That’s a tall order though when it feels like the world is collapsing around you.

I’ve had many challenges in life, from an early age, but the most influential times were during my mother’s long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. The role reversal (the child becomes the parent), watching helplessly as the illness ravaged her mind and body, and helping to do everything from administer medication to hand-feeding her took a toll on me emotionally that I probably have yet to fully realize. But it did change me; in ways I can’t even imagine yet.

I look at the world a little differently now, having experienced for myself, largely for the first time, the fragility of life. But it was the experience of caring for my mom over the course of a couple of years that slowly burned away layers of my rigid exterior, making me “feel” more than I had previously been accustomed.

It’s really what we do with those feelings that make the difference in the long run. While an experience like I had with my mother could have left me bitter and resentful, I ended up taking to heart a more positive side and a greater appreciation for my family as a whole. Others aren’t so lucky.

Many people emerge from crucible events in a much darker place, filled with resentment or guilt or other emotions that eat away at their core, keeping them from seeing the good that came out of whatever had happened. And, there is always some good – sometimes it’s just very hard to see. Either way, we are changed, different, but it’s up to each of us to decide how those events ultimately affect our lives.

 

Watch independent columnist Gery L. Deer monthly on WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton. More at http://www.gerydeer.com.

Who am I, and what am I doing here?

In Entertainment, Health, Opinion, psychology, Religion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on May 15, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

We’ve all had moments when we’ve turned to someone, a father, a brother, a God and asked, “What was I meant for? Am I doing what I was supposed to do?” It’s a normal exercise for us to question our situation, regardless of its status.

But we have to be careful to realize, regardless of how much we’d like the world to be a mystical place, our own choices landed us where we are and nothing was “meant to be,” that wasn’t directed by personal decisions.

I think it’s pretty normal to think we were meant for something more than we are, at least most of us probably feel that way. What many people tend to miss is how much value their lives have to others and how much would be different in the world without their contributions.

Over the last few years, I’ve written a great deal about my late mother, Lois. She passed away in November of 2011 after long battle with Alzheimer’s disease which among other things robbed her of a lifetime of memories.

Mom wasn’t an overly complicated person but she was very smart and caring, always putting others ahead of her – particularly her children and grandchildren. She only ever worked as a school volunteer, on the farm with Dad and for a time as a waitress in a little hometown restaurant where I grew up.

She might not have had the life people grow up dreaming about, but I’d like to think she felt like she had made a difference in the world. I know she did for me and my family. She didn’t have money or status or important connections, but she had wisdom and a level of understanding of her world and those in it that I truly wish I could emulate.

To some people a basic, down-home lifestyle could seem like Purgatory; a futile, pointless existence. Even though she didn’t have a list of college degrees after her name, nor did she work some high-powered job (unless you count managing my dad), her mere influence upon those around her probably had far greater reach than she ever knew.

In my mind, Mom had the life she was “meant” to live, evidenced by the efforts of those who helped care for her and offer support to our family as her illness advanced. We all have a place in the world and it might not seem like it matters at the time, but we are often more influential than we realize.

Since the kind of work life I have chosen does not lend itself to earning fistfuls of cash, far from it, I have always hoped that my labors have at least helped to enhance someone’s life, even in the slightest. Whether I am making people laugh on stage during The Brothers & Co. variety shows, or passing along my worldly observations in my writing, I always try to give people something that will help make their life better, even if it’s only for a moment. To me, that’s rewarding in itself.

Even when people don’t agree with something I’ve written, the point to take away is that they read it, and it made them think. I don’t want everyone to agree with me, nor am I trying to persuade them to alter their life paths based on my opinion of something. My job is to enhance someone’s life just by giving them something new to think about and that is the accomplishment.

So, a sense of accomplishment isn’t always derived from academic or financial achievement, and in my limited view of the world, it almost never comes from material success. Sometimes just being who you are and contributing to the world around you makes the longest-lasting difference.

Were you “meant” to be who you are, though? That’s a question best left to you. Only you can evaluate your level personal satisfaction from the world you’ve created for yourself. You are who you are, right or wrong. So like I heard once in a song, “This is it. This is life, the one you get, so go and have a ball.” And enjoy being you. It doesn’t matter how you got there.

 
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at www.gerydeer.com.

Money cannot buy eternal salvation

In Charities, Media, National News, Opinion, psychology, Religion, television, Uncategorized on April 30, 2013 at 10:55 am

EVANGDeer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

Have you ever turned on the TV early on a weekend morning and heard something like this, “Friends, dig deep for those green rockets of salvation. Help us to lead the sheep to His lovin’ care with your kind love offering. Operators are standing by to pray with you – all for just $49.99.” A cross between an infomercial and a bad Saturday Night Live parody, television evangelists have been conning millions from the pockets of the devout since the medium was invented.

These clergy-covered con men (and women) take the stage amidst gold-plated, throne-like chairs, religious statuary and acrylic podiums to convince us all that we’re damned to the fiery pits of Hell unless we give and give generously. Armani-suited, well-quaffed, jewel-bedazzled TV preachers spout dramatic sermons from a teleprompter while holding up a Bible as if it were the newly presented cub in the Lion King movie.

If that’s not enough drama, it’s is followed by repeated moments of squint-eyed, hand-raised prayer and Lord praising before thousands of onlookers in the audience who are doing the same. Without opening their eyes, the host preacher prays that God will direct the viewers to the telephone number that appears at the bottom of the screen and give generously to the ministry so that more souls can be saved.

At home, viewers dial quickly, handing over millions upon millions of dollars to what could easily be compared to a guy begging on a highway exit ramp. The difference is that at least you know the panhandler is exactly that. He’s not pretending to give you a direct phone line to eternal salvation at the same time.

Holier-than-thou in their demeanor and testimony, eventually they fall from their pedestals in some kind of sex scandal or tax evasion allegations. I’m sure everyone remembers the rise and fall of Jim and Tammy Baker, Oral Roberts and Jimmy Swaggart.

Religious panhandling – might as well call it by name – is a real problem in America and, unfortunately, it’s completely legal and largely tax-exempt. For the truly devout, there is a clear understanding that man is meant to be humble and kneel before God. That doesn’t mean we were meant to live in abject poverty, but we’re not supposed to use the Almighty as a way to dupe billions of dollars out of unsuspecting people searching for answers in a life full of uncertainty and hardship.

With multi-million-dollar homes, limousines and servants, there is nothing holy about these so-called “evangelists.” In fact, in my opinion, it’s just flat out criminal. These people soil the image and intentions of faithful, honest people all over the country who are genuinely trying to do some good in the world. Most live modestly, often with a second job or from a share of whatever comes in the offering on Sunday morning. There are no limousines, golden thrones or evangelical stadiums.

There is nothing to excuse the fact that some of the poorest people in America, the elderly, are the most common victims to this kind of nonsense. Looking for spiritual leadership and often lonely and shut-in, seniors often send money to these TV charlatans before even paying for food and medicine.

Of course, these religious phonies don’t care who they hurt because they can hide out in tax-sheltered mansions, go for a dip in their Olympic-sized swimming pools or jet off to vacation homes in the Cayman Islands.

Not convinced? According to CelebrityNetWorth.Com, one of the most popular TV evangelists, Benny Hinn, is worth more than $42 million; all from donations to his “ministry.” Another extremely popular – and rich – television pastor, Joel Osteen, is reportedly roughing it on only $40 million. And more money is still pouring in.

I don’t have a problem with people living prosperously and giving generously from hard work and the success built from that labor. I am deeply offended, however, when those claiming to be men and women of God live in luxury at the expense and from the charity of lost souls desperately searching for comfort. It would do them well to go read that book they’re always waiving around on TV; particularly the book of Matthew, Chapter 19, Verse 24.

 

 

Hitler didn’t disarm the German people, the Allies did

In Business, Education, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, Religion, sociology, State News, Uncategorized on February 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

This picture couldn't be more inaccurate. Hitler was a strong advocate of gun deregulation.

This picture couldn’t be more inaccurate. Hitler was a strong advocate of gun deregulation.

It’s an unfortunate fact that many high-profile politicians only speak out about issues like gun control when devastating events like mass shootings hit the headlines. Suddenly, people shift to one side of the debate or the other; with conservative Republicans typically taking the defensive, pro-gun position.

Unfortunately, most of this issue is argued, not from factual evidence or statistics, but from the standpoint of emotion, religious dogma and political position. If that isn’t enough, conservative extremists hoping to insight fear seem to always cite Hitler’s Nazi Germany as an example of what could happen to America if guns are taken away. Sadly, people rarely do any research before they start spewing nonsense like this; again, why let facts get in the way of a good scare tactic?

In fact, Adolf  Hitler did have a gun control policy, one that many on both sides of the debate say looked a lot like that proposed by California Senator Dianne Feinstein. But Hitler’s policy was an addition to gun control acts set up by the Allied powers after World War I to prevent Germany from regaining a military presence.

Quoting Cris Miles, editor of PolyMic.com, “The German (gun control) regulation was in response to the Treaty of Versailles and the Weimar government passed the legislation (not the Nazis).” Article 169 of the Treaty of Versailles stated, “Within two months from the coming into force of the present Treaty, German arms, munitions, and war material, including anti-aircraft material, existing in Germany in excess of the quantities allowed, must be surrendered to the Governments of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers to be destroyed or rendered useless.

As Mr. Miles points out in his own article on the subject, the wording of this policy must sound like the nightmare of every pro-gun activist in the country. So far, there is no national legislation being proposed promoting confiscation of personal firearms. Keep in mind that the German regulations were put into effect nearly a decade and a half before Hitler’s Fascist party took control of the country in 1933. In a strange twist of irony, pro-gun advocates might be surprised to learn that they had something in common with the vile German dictator.

As it turns out, Hitler was a strong supporter of gun deregulation. In 1928, German citizens were granted the right to carry a firearm (applying only to handguns at that point) with a permit but where ownership was restricted to, “Persons whose trustworthiness is not in question and who can show a need for a (gun) permit.” (That had to be interesting to enforce before the days of the Internet).

The 1938 German Weapons Act effectively removed most other barriers to gun ownership, deregulating the acquisition of rifles, shotguns and ammunition. It also lowered the gun ownership age to 18 and forbid Jews from manufacturing or selling firearms. It wasn’t until the Nazi surrender after World War II in 1945 that the country was once again disarmed.

So, in effect, it was the United States and the Allies that disarmed Germany each time, not the Nazis. In 1956, German citizens were once again allowed to own firearms, but gun laws in that country are far more restrictive than those in America. The point is that America’s leaders are not trying to circumvent the Constitution but are desperately faced with the seemingly insurmountable problem of rampant gun violence against innocents.

Comparing President Obama, or any other U.S. leader, to one of the most notorious mass murderers in the history of the world is, to put it mildly, disrespectful and unpatriotic. Such statements only further demonstrate the ignorance of a few gun-obsessed people trying to make a point from an uneducated, feeble position.

Any fruitful debate on gun control must originate from facts and effective solutions will have to include some better method to keep deadly weapons from the hands of career criminals and the mentally ill. The idea that weak arguments can be made stronger simply by citing events from Nazi Germany is foolish, to say the least, and just weakens the position of the debater, particularly when the history being quoted is so inaccurate.

Equal citizenry under the 14th Amendment

In Economy, Education, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized on January 22, 2013 at 7:04 pm

14thAmDeer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

With a single sentence early in the text of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson established the concept of human equality in a fledgling country. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” Jefferson famously penned, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Ironically, many of the men who signed the final version of the document were slave owners, with no acknowledgement of the hypocrisy they were about to go to war to protect. It took more than a century after John Hancock applied his prominent penmanship to the parchment to bring about a law that would provide the basis for the ultimate guarantee of a free and equal society.  But it didn’t exactly work out that way.

Passed on July 9, 1868, the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, in theory, sets equal status for each citizen. The wording clearly recognizes “citizens” as having either been born within the country or naturalized and goes on to grant equal privileges to each with no specifically stated restrictions based on gender, ethnicity, economic status, sexual preference or anything else.

At the time it was written, America was still experiencing shell shock following the Civil War, and it would be some time before full enforcement of the 14th would be widespread. Early on, even the government seemed to be choosing to ignore its own laws wherever it pleased to do so. A large part of the virtual annihilation of the Native American populations within the United States took place after the 14th was passed.

This legislation should have immediately equalized anyone born in the country, regardless of gender or race. But this was rarely the case. Some whites, particularly in the south, rejected the concept of overall equality. Racism and general prejudice ran high throughout the region, becoming violent on far too many occasions.

For those situations not expressly dealt with under the 14th, supplemental legislation has had to be passed to address those issues. But some people are offended that any subsequent legislation is required to enforce those “unalienable rights” already granted by the Constitution.  In their eyes, doing so only serves to solidify the idea that anyone other than the able-bodied, white male was somehow inferior and now needed ‘special’ legal considerations.

Sublime in their fortitude and thirst for liberty, America’s Founding Fathers are quoted by academics, politicians, world figureheads and even religious leaders. But in many ways that honorarium is less deserved because of staggering moral shortsightedness by not extending basic civil rights to everyone. Such a simple act in the beginning may have upended the economy of the new country, but it might also have helped preempt two hundred years of prejudice, war and bloodshed.

In the end, all rights are ‘civil,’ established and enforced by duly elected representatives of the people. Even with the country so divided over these issues, the government still has a chance to enforce the original purpose of the 14th Amendment.

People are always going to be frightened of change. But the opportunity remains to squelch old prejudice and make sure that all men, all citizens, are equal under the law no matter the color of their skin, to which god they pray, or whom they choose to marry.

It may be that no more laws need to be created. Each citizen is already endowed with the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; not as much by their creator, as the 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. If it really is the Supreme Law of the Land, it needs to be applied that way. If it doesn’t happen soon, Jefferson’s goal of an equal citizenry will never be much more than a pipe dream.

Don’t Sweat the Holidays

In Children and Family, Entertainment, Food, Opinion, Religion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on December 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm

hopDeer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

Every year about this time, people wrap up their Christmas shopping, attend uncomfortable social functions and worry about New Year’s resolutions they have no intention of keeping. It’s a stressful time emotionally, financially and socially. In the end, Darwinian Theory incarnate enables one to reach the finish line of January 1st without a nervous breakdown – survival of the fittest, beginning with Christmas parties.

Between family gatherings and holiday office parties, we spend about half our free time in December enduring the company of people we don’t necessarily like or want to be around the rest of the time. The point of all of this unwarranted schmoozing varies depending on your particular position in society.

If you’re a corporate exec hosting an event, you’re expected to make a good show of the holidays, pretending that you’re generous and thoughtful to those whose backs you stepped on in order to get where you are today. As an underling, you’re required to fain some misplaced exposition of loyalty to people who neither appreciate your hard work and long hours nor identify with your problems just trying to make ends meet. Of course, the ridiculous doesn’t stop there.

I debated whether to even mention fruitcake. It seems like a trite and highly over-dramatized topic, but still may warrant some scrutiny. It’s not the actual fruitcake that should be considered, but what it represents. Along with the late Twinkie, the fruitcake has been touted as one of the few sources of food, if you can call it that, which might actually survive after a nuclear disaster.

In truth, the fruitcake is a symbol of the requirement bestowed on today’s society that we give – and give a lot – to people we don’t even like. Now there are people out there for whom fruitcake is a genuine treat, they may be in need of some psychiatric help, but they do exist. But giving the fruitcake because it’s an easy buy in fulfillment of the gift requirement is just ridiculous.

Along with the requisite gifts comes a host of holiday cards clogging the mailbox from people you don’t talk to any other time but to whom you are now suddenly obligated to return the gesture in a never-ending cycle of artificial sentiment. The constant worry over whether to send a “Christmas” card or more generic holiday greeting is maddening. Get over it already. How offensive could it be to receive a note that wishes someone good cheer? Apparently it offends a great many people, but not enough for me to worry about.

Outdoors, we inevitably decorate the house in hopes of being noticed by some neighborhood committee arbitrarily voting on who shelled out the most for new LED light strings, to say nothing of excessive electric bills. In a variation of the “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality, each house along the street progresses with increasing gaudiness, ranging from a lighted reindeer whose flashing lights on its legs make it appear to be running, to two-story, inflatable representations of the Nativity which look like they would be more at home at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And the list goes on.

Now all of this might seem a little cynical and, at some point, everyone thinks about this stuff but most people would never admit to any of it. We’re generally happy just going along with everything and continuing in the repetitive traditions of our families or friends. In the end, the holidays were meant as a time of celebration but for many they can bring depression, anxiety and frustration. Recognizing the causes of these feelings can be a first step in easing them a bit, before they thoroughly take over.

Some things you just have to accept. There are the haves and the have-nots, along with those who don’t care one way or another. Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, or whatever you celebrate, don’t forget the point and, like the saying goes, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

 

Christmas trees represent peace and goodwill

In Education, Entertainment, Health, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, sociology on December 3, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

1836 sketch of a Christmas tree in America

1836 sketch of a Christmas tree in America

Are you offended by the term, “Christmas” tree? Or, on the other hand, maybe you get upset when someone refers to a “holiday” tree? Whatever your viewpoint, you might be surprised to learn that until the 1840’s, the Christmas tree was virtually nonexistent in America and largely considered a pagan symbol. Like many other Christian images and traditions, the tree was borrowed from earlier beliefs.

In fact, leaders of early New England Puritan societies preached against what they considered to be “heathen traditions,” such as caroling, decorating and so on. Around 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts declared any observance of the “sacred” December 25th holiday a penal offense.

Only church services were permitted and anything else, even the simplest ornaments or decorations, earned the offender punishment by fine or imprisonment. That mentality continued, for the most part, until the 19th Century when the first recorded display of a Christmas tree in America was by German settlers of Pennsylvania in 1830. So what happened? History.com offers this explanation.

“In 1846, the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree. Unlike the previous royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable—not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society.”

And with that, the Christmas tree was finally accepted in the New World. But why is the evergreen used? As it turns out, that story has ancient beginnings. During the winter solstice, ancient people collected evergreen boughs and placed them over entrances and windows. It was believed in many countries that the evergreen helped to keep away evil spirits, witches, demons and other supernatural bad guys.

The mysterious Druids, the Vikings and even the ancient Egyptians and the Romans had similar tree-related practices. Today, 16th Century Deutschland is credited with the origins of the modern Christmas tree, or tannenbaum, a German word meaning “fir tree.”  Devout Germans borrowed the ancient practice and added decorations to the trees, brought them into their homes and eventually added candles and gifts to the tradition.

In the 21st Century, the tree has finally become the centerpiece of Christmas holiday decor. Some of the largest trees are placed on the grounds of The White House in Washington D.C., and New York City’s, Rockerfeller Center. But as America grows increasingly secular regarding Christmas, people are starting to refer to “holiday” trees, effectively removing the Christian association from the emblem.

As odd as it might sound, given the varied history of the institution, it may be more accurate to share the image outside the Christian connotation. Since the tradition stems from such ancient beginnings, thousands of years before Christ, tree decorating is not uniquely Christian. Hard line Christians may be offended by this idea, but hopefully they can see the promise over the offense. Sharing the practice may open the hearts of those less cordial, regardless of their faith.

Whether to you it is truth or myth, the story of the birth of Christ is one of hope. Christmas is not about the decorations, songs or presents associated with the holiday. It’s about a spirit of good will to celebrate the hope that mankind can be better than he is the other 364 days of the year.

For the truly devout, deeply held faith cannot be rocked by the change in reference to one holiday image. But remember, respect for beliefs other than your own should be paramount if Christmas is to have any meaning at all. Only through respect, understanding and kindness can there truly be peace on earth and goodwill to… everyone. Have a Merry Christmas, a joyful Hanukkah and a happy and safe New Year.

 

 

 

 

Apocalypse Now & Then: Aunt Margaret and the Mayans

In Children and Family, Economy, Entertainment, Health, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, Science, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Technology, television, Uncategorized on November 26, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Case in point. The graphic is actually the AZTEC calendar, commonly misused to represent the Mayan version. Misinformation is only part of the problem with the doomsday scare.

By Gery L. Deer

People seem to have a bizarre, and sometimes irrational, fascination with the end of the world. So far, however, concerns about ominous apocalyptic events have been little more than the babblings of high-profile conspiracy nuts, money-grubbing religious fanatics and an over abundance of exaggerated media coverage. Still, the idea of impending doom must generate some money for someone because every few years, there’s a new disaster on the horizon.

In November of 1999, at the age of 91, my Great Aunt Margaret was still a smart woman, if not particularly personable to some, and she’d lost most of her eyesight to Glaucoma. A retired school teacher, she had spent more than three decades living alone in her old, block house at the foothills of the Appalachians, surrounded by other even more isolated senior citizens.

I was standing with her outside the house, watching my dad do something to her garage door, when I felt her frail, thin hand take my arm as she said, calmly, “Gery, what’s this about the world ending or everyone losing all their money because of a problem with all the computers?” Catching me somewhat off guard, I had to think for a moment on how to explain to her the Y-2-K issue in a way she’d understand, considering she knew nothing about computers. Her home still had a manual television and rotary telephone.

“Well,” I began, “old computers only allowed for two digit year notations in their programming so when they roll over from the year 1999 to 2000 on December 31st, they’ll think it’s 1900.” I went on to explain how some software would generate miscalculations but it really wouldn’t cause as big a problem as the media had blown it up to be. Satisfied with my understanding and explanation of the problem, she nodded and dismissed it. But for a time, she was frightened, actually scared she’d lose all her money and that the electricity and water to her home would stop flowing to her isolated home in the hills.

The idea that she and her elderly friends were so frightened by disinformation legitimized by a panic-loving media really angered me. A short time later, laying my technical and writing careers on the table, I published an editorial denouncing Y2K as little more than techno paranoia. As it turns out, unsurprisingly, I was right, but now we’re faced with a similar problem in the form of the Mayan calendar prophecy and other end of the world predictions set for December of this year.

Just like their Y2K counterparts, religious and survivalist extremists from all over the world are out there touting an imminent doomsday of Biblical proportions, stirring up baseless fear and panic. As the stories continue to be blown further out of proportion petrified people pointlessly buy everything from survival books to bomb shelters in an attempt to protect themselves. But experts say there is nothing to fear. The misunderstood Mayan prophecy is based on a calendar that restarts, marking a long period of time the way we might catalog a century or millennium.

Of course we could still fall victim to our own stupidity and blow ourselves up over petty arguments about who owns the world’s resources or whose god is the ‘real’ one. We’re human and we’ve been killing each other since the model was introduced so that’s not likely to stop. But the idea of a cataclysmic natural disaster destroying all life and civilization on earth is pretty far out. Is it impossible, no; staggeringly unlikely, yes.

In any case, if something that big happens there’s nothing that any of us can do about it. All the lunatics out in the woods with a few boxes of dried beef and lots of guns will be just as dead as the rest of us.

Sadly, my aunt passed away several years ago, well into her 90s. But, for all the other “Aunt Margarets” out there, frightened by all this apocalyptic nonsense, please count your blessings, sit back, relax and enjoy the holidays. I promise you, like I promised her; the world isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Voting With Conscience, Not So Easy

In Economy, Education, Home Improvement, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, Science, sociology, State News, Uncategorized on October 30, 2012 at 8:34 am

 

 

 

 

DEER IN HEADLINES

By Gery L. Deer

In just a few days, Americans will go to the polls to elect a new president or retain the old one for another term. It’s been a heated race almost from the start but now that we’re down to the wire, the candidates are running in a dead heat.

Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are neck-in-neck in the polls and pounding the pavement in battleground states like Ohio and Virginia, Hurricane Sandy notwithstanding. But with so much negativity – some say far more than in elections past – how will the non-partisan and undecided voter make a choice come November 6? It’s probably going to end up, for most, to be a vote of conscience.

Voting your conscience may not be easy, but it’s often the only way to feel as if you made a difference and chose the candidate that best serves your values and interests. Sometimes, you have to say, “What’s in it for me?”

Unfortunately, it’s hard to say how any individual might benefit from this election especially since most of the campaigning has been about one candidate saying why the other is bad, rather than telling us what he or she is going to do to once in office. Individual benefit will be based on a kind of trickle-down effect depending on which way the national election goes and how much change there is likely to be at the congressional level.

Once again, as noted previously in this column, it’s the local elections to which people should be giving more attention. It’s at the ground level that things actually get done in a way that directly affects the voter, regardless of how much we’d like to believe otherwise.

When weighing the issues of economic distress and job scarcity, the average person only has his or her experiences to call upon for reference. Discussing these problems on a national scale is almost pointless since the changes needed to affect these issues have to occur at the local level. That leaves the voter even more stymied.

Once more, we’re back to voting with our conscience. If you’re undecided, look at the following characteristics of the candidates – whether local or national.

First, is he or she right for the job? Do they give of the ‘air’ of a president or whatever position they intend to hold? Take the time to surf the internet and review video and read speeches they’ve given before and after becoming a candidate for office. Try to see around the fluff and the ‘marketing’ done to promote the candidate and look for threads of the person underneath. Do they seem genuine? Do you think they believe what they’re telling the people?

Do they share your personal values? I’ve long said that it’s simply a bad idea to choose a presidential candidate based on their religious beliefs or because of their take on subjects like abortion. But, when left with a tied score on the business issues, moral issues have to be taken into consideration, so you have little options at that point.

Does the candidate seem to flip-flop, only saying what his people are telling him to say or what he thinks the voters want to hear? Or, do you believe he holds to a set of ideals? This is probably the most important part of choosing a candidate in any election. Most politicians say what they expect the constituents want to hear. If he or she is a republican, conservative ideology comes across more prominently, and the same with being a democrat; the liberal voice will be louder.

But in order to capture a broader audience, the candidates will “pad” their ideology with sprinklings of the other side, or implied agreement with the opposition in small, virtually insignificant ways. This makes them seem more bi-partisan in an attempt to interest the other side.

Voting your conscience is much harder than voting based in facts and issue stance. Try to do your homework before you go to the polls. Choose the candidate you can feel good about supporting throughout their term and remember, no matter who you vote for, get out and vote.

A Little Girl’s Fight To Survive Reminds Us How Fragile Life Can Be

In Children and Family, Health, Local News, National News, Opinion, psychology, Religion, Science, Technology, Uncategorized on July 17, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Aubrey Jones

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines

 

My three-year-old cousin Aubrey is a bright, inquisitive and sensitive little girl who loves to play and laugh and be a kid. Every time I see her she is full of energy and doing all the things that little girls do.

Aubrey’s mother, Lindsey, is a cheerleading coach with four different teams ages 3 to 18, including teams in Fairborn and TippCity. Over the weekend of July 14, Lindsey, her husband Jon, Aubrey, and her baby sister, 4-month-old Kennedy, left their home in Fairborn, Ohio to attend a cheerleading tournament in Indianapolis, Indiana. But soon after they arrived, cheerleading was the last thing on their minds.

On Saturday, Aubrey began to spike a fever and was soon taken to the emergency room at a hospital near the IndianapolisConvention Center. What was originally thought to be a simple viral bug turned out to be a very serious bacterial infection. With almost no warning, little Aubrey was suddenly very ill, and her family was frightened.

Soon she was moved to RileyHospital for Children at IndianaUniversity where she was quickly placed in intensive care. Her tiny body was succumbing to what doctors called a super strain – a severe and aggressive strep-related bacterial infection that is resistant to most individual antibiotic treatment measures.

Since she was admitted, her body has shut down twice, being overcome by infection and high fever. After the first incident, doctors performed surgery to remove some of the infected fluid from her lungs and chest. Early Tuesday morning her condition worsened yet again as destroyed bacteria began to release dangerous toxins into her bloodstream and she crashed once more.

Battling septic shock her organs keep trying to shut down, but little Aubrey clings to life. We nearly lost her a couple of times since this ordeal began, but she is hanging on, swollen and with machines maintaining her functions to give her body a chance to rest.

Aubrey cannot be stabilized enough at this point to be moved to a hospital closer to home so her family is taking turns at her bedside. The stress, exhaustion and expenses are all increasing with each passing day.

I spent Tuesday afternoon and early evening at RonaHillsPark in Fairborn to help Lindsey’s cheerleading students and their parents mobilize door-to-door to collect donations. Aubrey’s seven-year-old sister, Kaydynce is staying with relatives nearby and was on hand to help along with her grandmother and great grandmother.

As I write this, little Aubrey is still in intensive care, kept sedated and in a coma-like state. Her family still waits hopes and prays for all to turn out well. Stranded two-hundred miles from home, they are fighting fatigue, fear and the worry of mounting expenses.

Family and friends, like the cheerleading squads, have pulled together to raise money and there are bank accounts and websites. The incredible outpouring of support is overwhelming and wonderful to see in an age of cynicism and self-absorption.

It’s hard to comprehend how a microscopic creature can swarm and multiply in the blood of a tiny, innocent child, altering the life path of everyone who is close to her. Her world, and that of her family and friends, has been irrevocably altered. Little Aubrey’s plight has brought people together for a common good. Hopefully we never forget and are forever mindful of the fragility of life because in a moment, everything can change.

If you would like to help little Aubrey’s family, donations are being accepted online at http://www.indiegogo.com/aubreyssick and at area Fifth-Third Bank branches. Just make a donation deposit in the name of Aubrey’s mother, Lindsey Warner (Jones).