I often enjoy sharing some of the many messages from readers, realizing their personal opinions are not only appreciated but often every bit can be valid and more valuable than whatever I write. Below is a smattering of lightly edited (for space) emails from my mailbox. Thanks upfront for the kind and appreciated words.
From Lee Ann--"Thank you for your columns. Love what you write about--everything from Janie Ward to the column today about not taking things for granted. Today's column reminded me of my grandmother who was so full of wisdom. She was a pioneer for women--she never said that--she just was. She always said: 'It doesn't matter how much money you have--if you've got a hole in your bucket, it will all run out,' and 'it's not about having what you want, it's about wanting what you've got!'
"She appreciated everything and never even had air conditioning in her kitchen. Their house didn't have central heat and air, just gas heaters and window units, and she never complained about being in that hot kitchen in the summer. My grandmother and my grandfather taught me a lot about the kind of person I strive to be ... honest, hardworking, kind and appreciative."
A reader named Van writes, "Thanks for another thought-provoking and wonderful article. We are about the same age--I am 72. Yes, I need to appreciate my everyday blessings more often. I use your articles often in my Sunday School class lessons here at the Methodist church in Blytheville."
Things that matter
Jim also commented on all we take for granted: "I wonder if a person has to be my age of 86 to fully understand and appreciate the column today. Very often your writings bring tears of sorrow, sometimes joy. Thank you for writing about the things that really count in this life. At my age we have to start thinking, who will attend our funeral? And who is left to attend? It's them who should be receiving my attention nowadays."
Judith wrote, "Ironically enough, last night I finished my Book Club's reading of The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth. The last words, re-read several times before going to sleep, were: 'In the end, there's really only two pieces of wisdom worth leaving behind: I worked hard for everything I ever cared about. And nothing I ever cared about cost a single cent.' Thank you, sir."
Marilyn commented on the crows mysteriously stalking a Harrison urologist: "Delightful column today. It would be interesting to see what would happen if the doctor provided them food, maybe a few minutes from his house, and had someone watch the site as he continued on to work. What else could disrupt their pattern? What would be the results?"
From Mary--"Hi Mike, The other day I was at the Native American museum in Bentonville where I listened to history of their migration 10,000 years ago as the climate changed. .. The climate was warming, which affected migration. Climate change caused by whom and what? Woolly mammoths lived in warm grasslands. Yet their remains are found in arctic climates, becoming extinct due to climate change.
"On Jan. 5, 1709, the worst winter in 500 years hit Europe, freezing the continent from Scandinavia to Italy. Rivers across Europe were frozen solid. It was impossible for boats to deliver food and other goods for months. Roads were impassable. Many died of starvation or froze to death.
"There are many examples of changes in our climate. The Sahara Desert was once an ocean. Thank you always for your thoughtful column."
Anne wrote: "Thank you for the excellent article about Andrea Goulet and her work at saving the monarch butterflies! I volunteer at the Hawkins Women's Unit at Wrightsville where I help in a newly formed garden class for the inmates. We recently heard a Master Gardener speak on this very topic, though not nearly as detailed and full as your article, and it has caused a huge interest and concern about these butterflies.
"Immediately we planted three native milkweed plants in our garden area at the prison and have already seen monarchs. The whole class is all 'aflutter' about it, and then yesterday one of the garden participants presented to the class your article, reading it as we all listened in awe. Thank you so much for your gift of writing exceptional articles and sharing them with your readers!"
Drugs and lethargy
Bill writes: "In your 10/22 column, you say you fail to understand why such a large percentage of young adults fail to launch.
"I am an older person who was blessed to become a father again later in life. What I observe that affects my life and others in the middle class (and really all classes of families) is drugs. Not so much cocaine, heroin and such, although there is plenty of that.
"A large percentage of children in the families I encounter are taking drugs as treatment for anxiety, depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder and other mental health issues.
"While the drugs may help, the most common side effect I observe is the patient becoming lethargic. Unfortunately, if a person quits taking these meds thinking they have been cured, they suffer from withdrawal, the same as those hooked on cocaine or heroin. So most just stay on these drugs and remain lethargic, many laying in bed streaming Netflix, zombied out with no desire to do anything productive.
"On top of this, young adults are smoking a lot of marijuana. This, too, has side effects, including drowsiness and fatigue ... . Although I see the problem, I do not see a solution."
Crippling student debt
Ethel writes in response to the same column about grown children still living with parents: "The total tuition and living expense budget for in-state Arkansas residents to go to Arkansas is $24,916 for the 2017/2018 academic year. Out-of-state students who don't have Arkansas residence can expect a one-year cost of $40,162.
"The college loan system has drastically altered the way of life of people in that age bracket, 18-34. They can't get through college without borrowing money, and then in order to repay the loans, they often defer buying property, getting married, having children. This causes ripple effects for years after graduation.
"Meanwhile, colleges spend more and more money to retain students, many of whom are inadequately prepared when they arrive. And still the states continue to underfund public education at all levels. As you can tell, I despair!"
From Mary regarding the column on medical errors being the nation's third leading cause of death: "I listen to Dr. Joel Wallach's program Dead Doctors Don't Lie on KURM radio. He doesn't think you should go to the doctor unless you break a bone.
"At 64, I don't go to the doctor and am taking no meds. People need to take care of their bodies, not always expect a magic pill. I recall a doctor telling me 80 percent of people are in the hospital because of things they do to themselves.
"Drunk driving, overeating, lack of exercise, etc. People who choose bad food and indulge at the table have the worst health, even worse than smokers. Obesity is linked to dementia, cancer, heart disease, diabetes--which is linked to kidney disease, heart problems, blindness and limb loss.
"But don't say anything about obese Arkansans cause that's considered fat-shaming. Most health problems are caused by the person themselves and can be greatly helped by changes they can choose.
"The [newspaper] is always printing pictures of overweight teachers and students. Would they print a picture of a teacher smoking or a student smoking? Yet obesity can be lethal. What's not to understand?"
Friends over politics
From David in reaction to the column about choosing friendships over divisive politics: "Well said today. Our tailgating crew at Arrowhead Stadium consists of me (founder of the Grill Party), some Republicans, some Democrats, some Libertarians and others. And we all get along. No arguing, name-calling or insults, just mutual respect.
"I asked one of the Libertarians her view of the reason behind such diverse opinions being able to unite to enjoy a good time. She simply said we respect each other enough to accept that people can, and do, have differing views and can get along if they choose to.
"My best friend voted for Trump while I voted Hillary. We admit we have pretty much different views on most things. However, my friend also is so open-minded and accepting of differing views, perhaps the most tolerant person I know.
"Yes, it is possible for people to get along. It is sad that in today's climate so many people cannot and will not accept opinions or perspectives different from their own. Perhaps we listen not to understand but to respond. We don't listen anymore. Sad."
Valued reader Jack writes about the mother's prayer answered on behalf of her young son: "I look forward to your articles. I do want to give you my opinion on God answering His children's prayer. He hears every prayer.
"'And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.'--Matthew 21:22 KJV. He answers in one of three ways every time. Yes, no and patiently, just wait a while."
Of God and man
Richard wrote, "I am 65. I have some ideas of religion, God and man's place in the universe, but even at this point in my life, I also have many more doubts and even more questions. All of that said, thank you for the thought-provoking article in today's paper. If the reader goes back, as I have, to reread passages, the writer has done a pretty darn good job."
On the same column, reader Dick wrote: "Thank you! We know God's power. Sometimes we (I) forget mothers! You touched my heart!"
Another Richard responded, "Informative column [on prostate proton treatment], especially for guys. We all have prostate problems hanging over our heads. Although I don't have a problem ... yet ... it's good to know where to go should one problem pop up.
"Have you heard of a definitive date for the hog farm shutdown?"
[Not as yet.]
From Faye: "My grandson is studying physics. I think he would love this article [on biocentrism]. I certainly enjoyed it although it was way over the depth of my understanding. Yet I somehow believe and understand. Thank you so much. Love and peace."
A valued reader wraps things up this way: "Why am I paying taxes on my wages? Then paying sales taxes to spend my money? Then paying income taxes on money they've already taxed? And paying property taxes after I already paid sales taxes on said property?
"And you wonder why politicians on a public service salary go into office with humble means and end up millionaires."
Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist, was editor of three Arkansas dailies and headed the master's journalism program at Ohio State University. Email him at email@example.com.
Web only on 11/02/2019
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