Letters to the Editor for December 1

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Letters to the Editors

Incident team thankful for community support 

As we prepare to leave our assignment on the Boteler and Nantahala Branch fires, members of the Southern Area Red Incident Mangement Team would like to extend our sincere thanks to the many people who supported us during our stay. We are especially thankful for the gracious help and generosity of the people supporting our firefighting efforts. You have welcomed us, provided for our needs, and expressed your gratitude to us for our service in more ways and at a higher level than we have ever before experienced.

It has been both an honor and a privilege to serve the Nantahala and Cheoah-Tusquittee Ranger Districts of the Nantahala National Forest and to serve you, as their neighbors.

As we enter into this season of Thanksgiving, know that we are thankful to have been successful in managing these fires without any loss of homes. We are even more thankful that all our firefighters have survived another fire and are heading home to their families. We are thankful there were no serious injuries.

We appriciate the patience you have shown as our work impacted your lives in so many ways. The smoke, increased traffic, and other disturbances that are inevitable a part of large wildfires impacted everyone in the area. We are grateful for your patience and understanding as we went about our work of containing these fires.

As our firefighting troops return home, we will take with us an appreciation for the beauty of Western North Caroilna and fond memories of resilient communities filled with caring people. We will remember the generous spirit of the people here. Once again, we extend to you our sincerest thanks for your help, and for the privilege of helping you during this difficult time.

Mike Dueitt, Incident Commander

Southern Area Red Incident Management Team

A heartfelt ‘thank you’ to our firefighters 

We know that by design, a firefighter would never seek praise or require external support for motivation. You are self-driven and know – without even thinking about it – that your work is important because it helps others. But you see that work as “no big deal” and “just what needs to be done.” Simply put, your work is your calling as it is for those of us caring for patients. And, while we appreciate that you don’t need a letter of gratitude, as citizens and admirers who are deeply appreciative of your work, we simply must share how incredibly grateful we are to each of you.

For many who call Western North Carolina home, God’s beautiful gift of our mountains is one, a great source of comfort and pride. Ironically, what is normally the most wonderful and beautiful time of year is just the opposite this year. All across our region, we see devastation from fires – not only to our magnificent landscape but even more sadly to our friends and neighbors. It’s possible that when watching this devastation every day on the news and knowing individuals and families impacted so significantly, one can begin to feel helpless.

And yet, at the same time, there you are, fighting these fires under the duress of the heat, smoke and other elements day after day after day, doing everything humanly possible to mitigate the damage. As an observer, it’s impossible to imagine the difficulty and toll it takes on you and your own families. I speak on behalf of Mission Health’s 12,000-plus team members across the region when I say, “Thank you.”

Thank you for being away from your families so that you can help us. Thank you for risking your own safety in order to fight these fires. Thank you for sacrificing your comfort, and in some cases, your well-being as you work under the most difficult conditions. We are impressed, we are in awe and we are indebted to you, which is why our team members feel so strongly about helping.

We want to show our support and feel as if we are in this with you, because we are. Please know that we are engaged, and we are here to support you and the many agencies that are assisting you in this effort.

With great admiration, respect and thanks,

Ronald A. Paulus, MD

President and CEO, Mission Health

Focus on true meaning of Thanksgiving 

What did Thanksgiving mean to you?  A turkey dinner with all the trimmings?

The recent “Black Friday” sales?  To my wife Sharon and me it meant family, friends, our health, and so much more.  Unfortunately, we’ve gotten away from the original meaning of that day when the Pilgrims and the native Americans came together to give thanks for new friendships, freedom from religious prosecution, and hope for a new beginning.

Despite the conflicts that surround us throughout the world, we are a blessed nation.  We have the freedom to worship as we choose, to speak out when we see injustice, and to live “the American dream” through a little initiative, hard work, and determination.  Please join us and the thousands of others who focused on the true meaning of Thanksgiving.

Finally, let’s all direct our focus on the thousands of firefighters, emergency responders, and law enforcement officials, many of whom spent Thanksgiving away from their families as they dealt with this terrible scourge of fires in our state and region.  They are the real heroes who deserve our respect and admiration.

Kurt J. Volker — Otto, N.C.

Introducing sub-atomic consciousness 

This is in no way a criticism of having a belief system based on an idea of having a god or goddess.  Every people, including African pygmies, have a god and most of them have some sort of “Holy Book” that they rely on.

As an agnostic, my own feeling is that although God may not even bear a resemblance to humans, and hopefully not think like we do, there is some underlying order to things.  It may be a god with a beard or it may be something entirely alien to us.

For those of you who believe that we possess souls and that there is life after death, I have some encouraging news from the world of theoretical physics.  The idea that we have souls, by the way, dates back at least 40,000 years or more.

By no means am I educated in physics but I’ll try to explain a totally new theory as best I can.

Some years ago, Sir Roger Penrose, a renowned experimental physicist from Oxford University in England stated that “consciousness may be a function of the universe.”

Effectively, it means that the universe may be a thinking being and conscious of its own existence.  It also implies that God is the universe itself.

Now, Roger Penrose and a team of fellow researchers, has come up with another starling idea so follow me if you will.

We already knew that our bodies are made up of atoms, electrons, protons, neutrons and an assortment of sub atomic stuff. As such, they do not die when our bodies die but continue on and will do so until the last star twinkles out in our universe trillions of years from now.

Penrose’s theory is that those atoms contain all the information about you as an individual.  This part seems to invoke Quantum Entanglement which in turn implies that our consciousness may continue after death. That consciousness may be our soul.  Our atoms, hopefully, don’t simply fly off into space.  Science, by the way, has never been able to describe just what consciousness is but you see it when you see yourself in a mirror.

Although it will take many years for Penrose’s research to be proven or disproven, it has the potential to change the face of all religions if proven correct.  No doubt there will be violent resistance to those changes.

The loudest objections may come from atheists.

At the very least, it will be fascinating to follow the idea’s progress in time and perhaps finding our purpose in the universe.

Bob Wilson — Franklin, N.C.

Popular vote has no legal significance 

 Anticipating prior to Election Day that we would, for the second time in this century be involved in a contested election, I have studied and tried to better understand the electoral process.

The Founding Fathers devised the electoral college system as part of their plan to share power between the states and the national government.  Whether they fully envisioned the vote of the electoral college could defeat the will of a majority of the people in selecting a president, under the federal system they adopted in the Constitution, the nationwide popular vote has, in fact, no legal significance.  As a result, it is possible that the electoral votes awarded on the basis of state elections could produce a different result than the nationwide popular vote.

Since the nation’s first presidential election in 1792 there have only been a few times when the winner of the popular vote has not won the election, or when the decision was thrown to the House of Representatives, as required by the Constitution.   The first was in 1876 when Samuel Tilden won the popular vote but contested ballots in three southern states (Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida) ultimately gave the election to Rutherford B. Hayes. The most recent contested election was the 2000 presidential race, in which George W. Bush received less (48.4 percent) of the popular vote than opponent Al Gore (48.6 percent), but picked up the key state of Florida, thus winning 271 electoral votes to Gore’s 267.

It seems that is this election something new (and perhaps unexpected) has been added to the mix.  Republican        electors say they are under siege to defect, that they are receiving thousands of requests by letters, emails and phone calls to switch their votes.

Some electors are legally bound to vote for the GOP presidential nominee, Donald Trump, but many others are not.   Hillary Clinton needs only 38 of these electors to switch their votes to win this game and become the 45th President of The United States.

At this point, so far as we know, the electors are only being asked to switch their votes. What happens when they open their front doors to find 500 people marching up and down in the street in front of their homes, or when they are accosted in the grocery store, or when their children are confronted on their way to school, or when the requests become threats, when they start receiving calls from sitting U.S. Senators and Congressmen and women implying that a change of heart (and vote) might be in their own best interest?

Call me a skeptic if you wish, but I am not at all convinced this election is over.

David L. Snell — Franklin, N.C.

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