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Climate justice is knocking on our door
There is Fake News, but the truth is, most of the current news is just not newsworthy, for the simple fact that it distracts our attention away from more pressing issues. Immigrants are piling up at our border. Fires are burning our homes and forests. Storms are dumping unprecedented amounts of rain that are flooding us out of house and home. Unrest is in our streets around the world. What do all these have in common? A changing climate. Developed nations got to where they are by utilizing enormous amounts of energy and resources. Poorer nations are now just trying to improve their standard of living and build their economies. It is up to the wealthier nations to invest in efficiency and alternative energy to forestall a catastrophic future. Climate equity means wealthier nations must do more and allow developing nations to build their infrastructure. But this won’t happen unless we see the consequences of our actions today. And, for the most part, these are unintended consequences, but consequences all the same. What we should know about the unintended consequences with our love affair with fossil fuels: The environmental, health and other costs associated with burning a gallon of fuel amount to about $12/gallon. If gas cost $3/ gallon (now much less), the actual (not fake) cost of gasoline is around $15/gallon. We just don’t pay the $12 at the pump. We pay that in related health care cost due to pollution, higher insurance costs, and much more. The Physics of Science teach us that a warming Arctic is weakening the jet stream. The unintended consequence is that storm systems tend to stall and dump more rain and flooding results. Warming oceans mean that more moisture and energy develop, more quickly, and with devastating results. Drought prone areas, such as in south America, become drier, while some areas become wetter. Many migrants are fleeing from areas where they can no longer survive due to increasing drought, and resultant crop failures. They are the new environmental refuges, some of the perhaps 68 million people displaced each year due to violence and climate change. The 24th UN Climate Summit recently took place in Katowice, Poland and received little attention in the U.S. media. We are too consumed by the endless nonsensical investigations (soap operas) of our politicians to pay attention to this impending crisis. Greta Thunberg, a climate activist, addressed the UN plenary session with some words of both wisdom and warning: “We need to pull the emergency brake” on climate emissions. “Our biosphere is being sacrificed … so that a very few people can make enormous amounts of money.” “Future generations will ask, why didn’t you do anything when there was still time to act.” Greta explains that what we need to be scared of is a “tipping point,” a point of no return when we “start a chain reaction that is beyond our control.” What is unusual about Greta is that she is 15 years old and has Asperger’s syndrome. After suffering depression for a year and being hospitalized, she decided that there was something she could do and she began sitting outside the Swedish parliament and refusing to go to school. Said Greta: “what is the point of going to school to learn facts when there may not be a future.” Unique to a person with Asperger’s Sydrome, she see things in black and white and as Greta said: “I don’t like lying.” In the footsteps of the students at the Parkland school shooting, Greta closes her remarks to the UN assembly by saying: “We have come here,… not to beg the world leaders to care…” but “to let you know change is coming whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.” Greta is a very special young woman who embodies a wisdom beyond her years, and everyone needs to hear her words and heed the warning that she so eloquently speaks of. If our current system is not capable of making changes, then we need to change the system. Our newest House members are proposing a New Green Deal. It may be our last and only opportunity to secure a safe future for our children and their children. And as Greta articulates in her words, inaction on climate change amounts to no less than suicide for future generations. Climate justice is knocking on our door. What are we going to do?
Paul Chew – Franklin, N.C.
Thanks to all who made Thanksgiving dinner possible
All of us at First Presbyterian Church would like to thank everyone in the community who made our 2018 Community Thanksgiving Dinner possible. On Nov. 22, we served almost 500 meals, over half of which were enjoyed by diners within the festive atmosphere and fellowship of Tartan Hall. The rest were taken out or delivered to homes throughout the community. We could not have made this event happen without the support of many local businesses and organizations and the many folks (90 by our sign-in sheet count) who came to volunteer on Thanksgiving Day. We would especially like to thank the following for donating goods or services: Walmart (turkeys—with a special shout out to managers Steve and Bill and to Sean and Ted for helping us load the turkeys); Ingles Market, 1257 Georgia Rd. for donated food (thanks to Mark Pruitt); Martha Peak at Martha’s Kitchen for help with pie ingredients; Mark and Stephanie Berry for quantity food ordering; and Dowdle Mountain Pit Stop. Several businesses and organizations provided financial support and volunteers. We are grateful to Entegra Bank, United Community Bank, Countryside Chevrolet, Franklin Ford, Smoky Mountain Dodge Jeep Ram, Noon Rotary, and Kiwanis for their donations. We at First Presbyterian love having this opportunity to serve our community, and we give thanks for everyone who worked with us to make the project a success.
Pastor Tempe’ Fussell First Presbyterian Church
U.S. ruled by ‘kakistocracy’ form of government
Sometimes I find it difficult to communicate with people of younger generations and I’m wondering if it has something to do with the loss of what we once took for granted, a common frame of reference. What children of my generation learned about government and our country from our parents and teachers seems almost disassociated from what children learn today. To govern (in my view) means to rule and the three familiar forms of government, based upon who rules, are; (1) those in which authority is vested in one single person, (2) those dominated by several people, and (3) those controlled by many. When ruled by a single individual such as a king, queen, or dictator, this form of government is known as an autocracy. A government is called an oligarchy if a small group such as landowners, military officers, or wealthy merchants make up the government. If the country’s people make up the government and contribute to its decision-making process, that nation’s government is known as a democracy. The ideas of the English philosopher (John Locke 1632-1704) formed the foundation for America’s democratic system of government. “A democracy exists to give voice to the people and to protect their inalienable rights,” John Locke suggested, sowing the seeds for the American Revolution seven decades after his death. Now, after 400 years of trials, errors and tribulations, we find ourselves in the early 21st century burdened with a form of government known to the ancient Greeks as a kakistocracy. No, that’s not mis-spelled despite what your spell-check might tell you. A kakistocracy is a system of government run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens, stupid, least suitable, able, or experienced (the list is endless). By definition, the Donald J. Trump administration personifies the entire breadth and depth of a pure kakistocracy and until we figure out how to remove it, we’re stuck with it, we own it. Perhaps the first step is to recognize the danger. We have elected a man who has elevated lying to an art form. Nothing he says can be believed or what he does trusted to be in the best interest of the United States. He corrupts everyone around him and everything he touches is diminished by his mere presence. Trump (himself a misfit) purposes to surround his administration with people he knows are unqualified to lead. Cases in point: Kathy Kraninger to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has no experience in financial services and has never run a federal agency. Heather Nauert (Trump’s pick to replace Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the U.N.), clearly lacks the kind of in-depth policy knowledge and political background the job requires. Expecting her to represent the United States at the U.N. Security Council and in private diplomatic talks with world leaders, following in the footsteps of renowned individuals such as Adlai Stevenson, George H.W. Bush, and Madeline Albright, is beyond ludicrous. Let us seek wisdom from those who came before us. Our Founding Fathers placed great value on the individual in an American democracy, and believed strongly in the concept of individualism, which dictates that the primary function of government is to enable the individual person to achieve his or her highest potential, making the interests of the individual more important than those of the state. Anyone who stands in the way of that (and Donald Trump most certainly does) is a very real and a very dangerous enemy of citizens of the United States and of free people everywhere. David Snell – Franklin, N.C.
Only one way to span the divide
I grew up living right beside the mighty Mississippi River. There were three bridges already and a fourth one being built. The new one was intriguing to me as a child, because it was just a simple concrete arch with no steel super-structure like the other three. During construction, it got to the point where the whole bridge was finished except for the center span, which was maybe a couple hundred feet. I often dreamed about getting up enough speed to launch from one side of the arch to the other, without dropping down into the river over 100 feet below. I’d heard of a famous dare-devil cyclist who attempted such feats, often breaking several bones in his many unsuccessful attempts. On Sept. 8, 1974, Evel Knievel attempted to jump the Snake River Canyon on a rocket-propelled motorcycle designed by former NASA engineer Robert Truax, dubbed the Skycycle X-2. The State of Idaho registered the X-2 as an airplane rather than a motorcycle. It amazes me how many people are willing to try such a risky effort with their own life, risking much more than broken bones. Why would anyone assume so strongly that they are correct, without extensive research of opposing viewpoints, when so much is at stake? There are basically two ways people try to reach God. One is through human effort (Jump the span by getting up a lot of speed). These efforts always fall short, because of something called sin, which means “to miss the mark.” To miss the mark in this instance is devastating, whether you miss by 100 feet or 5 inches. The Bible says no one is good enough to satisfy God’s righteous demands (Romans 3:23). The other is to put your trust in Someone Else to bridge the span. That might work, if that Someone has the power and the will to accomplish the task. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the one who fits the bill. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life: no one comes to the Father (God) except through me.” (John 14:6) If that is true, then Jesus is the center span. One can trust Him, or trust in some other approach. But Jesus said no other way can succeed. He said, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”(John 10:9) Apparently Evel Knievel realized this, and after a wild life, and just months before his death, he committed his life to Jesus Christ. He said he had always believed in a god, but he just had trouble believing in “the” Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He said he didn’t know why he fought it so hard. He said he believed in the power of prayer, and that maybe God just got sick and tired of him fighting Him, and said, “You’ve got to stop this nonsense. Now come with me.” He said he never believed in organized religion. But over the years, hundreds of people prayed that he would receive Christ. He said he watched the video “Jesus of Nazareth” and read “The Case for Christ” by former atheist Lee Stroebel. He achieved unbelievable success by the world’s standards, owning dozens of exotic sports cars: Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Rolls Royces, two jet airplanes, etc. But by his own testimony, he had nothing then because he didn’t have Jesus Christ. He said, “The gold, diamonds, booze, women, race horses, you’re looking at a real sinner. I’ve been a real sinner: but not anymore.” He said in front of hundreds of family and friends, “This is the biggest step that I’ve ever taken in my life.” He said, “The difference between a Christian and an atheist is: a Christian wants to believe. An atheist does not believe in God because he doesn’t want to. He stays away from it. He gets mad. He doesn’t want to hear about it. He said if you don’t believe that Jesus is who he said he is (the Son of God), you will surely die in your sins. You can watch him give his powerful testimony here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueXtsPlYTag
Ed Hill – Franklin, N.C.