Letters for May 2, 2019

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The Macon County News letters page is a public forum open to a wide variety of  opinions. Letters are neither accepted nor rejected on the basis of the opinions expressed. Writers are asked to refrain from personal attacks against individuals or businesses. Letters are not necessarily reflective of the opinions of the publisher, editor or staff of The Macon County News. Email letters to maconcountynews@ gmail.com.

Proposed Georgia Road changes not for public good

This is an open letter to the NC DOT –  I’d like to go on record by stating that the proposed road work on US 441 S (aka Georgia Road) is a huge mistake wasting tax payers’ money for no real resolution of the perceived traffic problem.  The proposed U-turn bubbles with median are not going to prevent the amount of traffic that flows through that area and will be far more dangerous than the current turn lane setup.  Turning lanes are safe and work fine.  Nothing is going to change human error anywhere.  The median and U-turn bubbles will get log jammed and be confusing to motorists (especially out of state drivers) and could cause more accidents despite good intentions.  

These types of mistakes in construction to alleviate traffic have failed in other parts of the country.  This project will also drastically hinder economic activity for all business owners along that corridor.  Not only will businesses have their property compromised by taking away parking, but also more difficult to access due to the median.  Why does NC DOT want to punish business owners that generate the taxes used for public good?  This project is not for the public good and could create numerous lawsuits in the years to come.  The stats that have been quoted about the number of crashes are extremely subjective and vary year to year.  It is the amount of traffic, not the road organization that makes crashes probable along any given area.  Did the NC DOT simply have a surplus they needed to spend in order to make driving more difficult for us? This whole project is asking for trouble and is going to be an absolute boondoggle.  

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” and these proposed changes will be unsafe for traffic, bad for business, and a burden for taxpayers!  I have not heard a single person who wants these proposed changes and everyone in my network opposes this project.  Local residents, please rise up and oppose this project before May 16 to be included on the project record. The only two contacts that have been floating around concerning this project are steve.smallwood@stantec.com and kjmcdowell@ncdot.gov, but you can also contact Sen. Jim Davis, Senate Transportation Committee chair to give your opinion.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

 Jim Gaston – Franklin, N.C.

In favor of a future we can all live with

In 1972, the King of Bhutan declared that his country would follow a different model than the rest of the world in assessing what is considered progress.  He rejected the standard GNP or gross national product as a sole measure of prosperity in favor of a more human-centered measure of wellness or happiness, refered to GNH or gross national happiness which give equal importance to non-economic measures of well being.  Simply put, having more things doesn’t necessarily bring more happiness.  Redefining (or imagining) what our future could be like is the first step in saving our world, ourselves and our fellow companion travelers. For we are on the spaceship earth in a vast sea of space with no where else to go.   In 2012 the United Nations adopted GNH and established measures to be used in ranking nations.    

In a world of limited and declining natural resources, our current economic model can only result in what has been described as the Great Unraveling.  The current glut of cheap non-renewable oil and gas may be the last gasp before declining reserves plunge the country and world into a war for scarce resources and rising prices.  It is easy to ignore all this in favor of living in the present moment when all seems well.  But that is worse than just hiding our heads in the sand. It is subjecting future generations to an unimaginable future.  This is the ultimate in denial and irresponsibility on the part of our leaders. We are in a state of mass hypnosis.  

To say that our economic model is unsustainable is an understatement. Our current economic model based on increasing growth is both unrealistic and naive.  We are living in a world of diminishing resources while fueling what amounts to climate chaos.  Science does not support what our economists tell us. 

Current government policies promote a war on the environment, poor people, and the very life on this very fragile planet.  A lack of regulations benefit the very few while condemning the poor to misery and servitude. A lack of regulations means that it is open season on the planet: the only one we have.  What is lacking is a determination that along with rights go responsibilities.  A federal judge rejected a drillers permit based on the fact that drilling for new oil or gas reserves would contribute to increasing CO2 in the atmosphere and to climate change. We must leave these reserves in the ground.  Oil pipelines have been described as black snakes riving from pits of death from the tar sands of Canada.  Along with oil spills that contaminate the land and water, they represent the deadly poison spewing from power plants and tailpipes.  These snakes feed the insatiable hunger of a society that is addicted to a cheap and seemingly endless supply of fuel.  

Those who reject a Green New Deal or some variant of one, are also rejecting a future for our children and grandchildren who will inherit this planet.  They are on the fast track to the Great Unraveling when it will be too late to make the necessary changes for survival.  And survival is our bottom line, not money.  It is no longer: the economy stupid, it is the planet.  

So, what is the alternative to an economic system that is based on unlimited growth or consumerism (get whatever you want while it is here)? The alternative is to imagine what a new future could look like and make drastic changes to business as usual.   And all indicators are that we have little time to act, much less time to debate whether to act.    Fortunately, we have much of the technology on hand to make these changes, and much more is in the works.  But it will mean giving up our current ideas of security (which have only brought us insecurity) and invest our limited resources in bringing about what amounts to a radical about face in government, private, and NGO policies. It also means re-evaluating what progress and prosperity mean to us.  

When a failed system no longer meets our needs, the only answer is to begin again and envision a new way of life based on human and world centered values.  This is what a Great Awakening or Turning would accomplish.  Just like the Gross National Happiness of Bhutan, adopting different measures of success are needed. The degree to which all people in society and the world find satisfaction or well-being.  Measures of well-being while differing from culture to culture generally include strong and frequent social ties, living in a healthy environment, and good governance which might include adequate health care, education, and much more.  GNH adopts the philosophy that we are only doing well when our neighbors are doing well.  Borders, gated communities, more prisons, more guns, more bombs and bigger military budgets will not keep us safe as the growing the flood of climate and war driven refuges mount at our doors. The proverbial chicken has come home to roost.  We have found the enemy and the enemy is us.  

The Great Awakening or Turning is here and now.  It is within the power of people to demand that our leaders and government reject our current policies that make our world and its inhabitants second class citizens for the benefit of the few.  It is a rejection of the power and corruption of a world view of domination by the powerful and wealthy. Domination demands that resources necessary to support life, be diverted to the military, prisons, and exploitation of the environment including space.  Our current failed system is being challenged on all levels by indigenous peoples, women, environmental activists and not least by our own children who are leaving schools to protest a lack of gun laws and the failure of leaders to promote policies that protect the climate and their future.  Children act when adults no longer carry through with their responsibilities.  As Greta Thunberg, a Swedish 16 year-old activist says: We have the power and we will step in to make change when adults fail.  Why study lessons when we may have no future to use them?  Thousands of youth in 125 countries joined in demonstration in March of this year to urge our political leaders to act.  Activists are laying down their lives in the streets over lack of action by our leaders.  A new generation of determined and brave political leaders in congress are making their voices heard and presence felt.  They are not taking “no” for an answer.  

Have we forget that great civilizations in the past have failed by ambitious leaders through corruption and conquest?  

We must see that injustice is the result of a lack of responsibility by those who hold privilege or power.  We first have to acknowledge that violence against others is the result of our greed and privilege.  The flood of migrants at our border is the result of years of military intervention in other countries, exploitation of resources and lack of investment in those countries, and energy use that is changing the climate and forcing people off their land. 

The tables are rapidly turning and our current system is in crisis on all levels and corruption in government is at its highest level.  Our current crisis is a reminder of the opportunity that exists if make the right choices.  Our current system is at its end-game, and just waiting for us to acknowledge its demise.  It is time to unleash our creative powers to re-envision the world to serve mankind.  These are lofty ideals but what is our other choice?  Let’s reject the status quo in favor of a future we can all live with.  

Paul Chew – Otto, N.C.

America’s democracy must move forward

If you own a tool set chances are you have a ratchet in that box. This handy little invention allows movement in one direction only. Much like what has happened with the release of the Mueller Report. The investigation of our lifetime has spawned several other probes that will reveal evidence to add to the massive implications of abuse of power by Donald Trump. There will be no going back to what life was like before Mueller. This ratchet won’t allow going back.

The search for truth must not stop. Truth is a necessity for survival of our democracy. Congress must assure Americans and human rights/democracy advocates around the world that no one is above the law in America. The ratchet must move in that direction to sustain hope for a better world. 

America’s democracy must move forward.

  Dave Waldrop – Sylva, N.C.

Two Bryson City doctors on the road not taken

I asked Drs Jennifer and Tom Bunnow, formerly of Bryson City, whose children were my students, the following question. “What would cause two doctors who are married to each other, to give up a nice, prosperous, lucrative lifestyle here in the U.S., to go serve the Lord in a third world country, where you might have to settle for much less, or maybe even suffer?” This was their answer. 

“I have made a great many foolish decisions in my lifetime, but leaving the material world behind and choosing to ‘make a smarter investment’ was the best decision of my life.  Working as a doctor in Bryson City, North Carolina afforded me things I only dreamed were possible.  I acquired a great many things that I thought would make me happy.  Yet, happiness eluded me.  When God called me to serve Him on the mission field, I knew that my way of seeking happiness wasn’t working, so I tried His way.  As my shackles to life in the USA grew lighter, so did the burden of responsibility, of worry, and of my selfish shame.  So our family left the USA and found a huge world out there, plum full of people with real needs.  Not the embarrassing ‘need’ for owning a faster car or a larger stuffed crust pizza, but the need for healthcare just to survive, or for medicine, or just for someone to love them.  The people I rub shoulders with now don’t live in nice heated and air conditioned homes; they live in homes built of sticks and grass.  They don’t have an electric or a gas stove for cooking, they have a fire pit in the middle of their home.  They don’t have a car, a motorcycle, or even a bicycle to get around; they have two feet.  They don’t have movie theaters, clubs or restaurants; they have neighbors who tell stories, gardens to provide work for the day, and food to survive.

“Much more importantly, they don’t have many versions of the Bible to choose from to learn about the God who created them and loves them; most of them have no version of God’s Word. The Bible tells us in Romans 10:13-15, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how can they call on the name of the Lord if they don’t believe in Him?  And how can they believe in Him if they’ve not heard of Him?  And how can they hear of Him unless someone tells them of Him.  And how can someone tell them of Him unless someone is sent to them.’  I have been sent… here I am, telling the people of Papua New Guinea about the God who created them.  To God be the glory.

“I was blind in Bryson City; blinded by my greed, by my own desires, ignoring the needs and desires of the world around me.  But I am not blind now. God has opened my eyes.  Don’t get me wrong, I am still a greedy person.  It is not easy to change the core of who I am.  But now my hope and desire of living a life of wealth and abundance is backed by God’s wisdom, not my own.  Yes, I have given up a great many things… things I dreamed of since I was a young child.  But in the long run, I will achieve the very thing I seek.  God tells me in His Word that there are books in heaven.  My actions are being recorded, and will someday be judged and rewarded.

“Which is more wise, to enjoy the wealth of this world for another 25-40 years, or to choose instead to save my blessings for after I am called home?  Eternity is a mighty long time.  Life here on earth is but a drop of time in the ocean of eternity.  I choose to wait for what God has in store for me then, rather than chase after it now, and squander my eternity.  You may ask me, ‘But what if you’re wrong?’  I will answer, ‘But what if I’m right?’  I could have said to God, ‘No, I don’t want to go.’  But now, over five years later, I am so glad that I said, ‘Yes.’  Want to know why?  I have finally found something that money simply cannot buy.”  

I’m guessing Dr Tom Bunnow and his family have found joy. Have you? You can reach them at: jenny_bunnow@sil.org

  

Ed Hill – Franklin, N.C.

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