Essays/Opinion

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The Awakening of American History Compared to American Mythology

Base of Frederick Douglass statue torn down July 4, 2020

Opinion:  Our nation has uplifted men from the founding fathers, to military leaders, to poets and politicians. We are only now admitting they are not as perfect as American Mythology would have you believe.  Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Madison, Jackson, Crockett, Bowie, Lee, Grant, Douglass, and so many other men and women make up the core of “American Mythology.”  Myths and stories have grown up around these men and women.   Some myths rose in their lifetimes, and some long after the person died.  This mythology based on Americans has become a new world mythology where these men and women seem to rise above the rest of us, and they seem untouchable.   Webster’s accepted definition of the word Mythology is “a popular belief or assumption that has grown up around someone or something.”   When we consider that the various heroes from the founding of the nation through our modern times have elevated men and women and built up popular beliefs or assumptions, we can easily see that America has its own mythology. If you studied the revolution, you will hear stories about how British bullets could not hit Washington. You understand how Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, and Hamilton did not shoot first but shot the tree instead of Burr.  If you grew up in the south, you hear about Lee, Jackson, Forrest, and many other heroes of the south.  They would have you believe that Lee was the most brilliant military mind to live by all accounts.  In the north, Grant, Sherman, and others would seem invincible in their starch defense of the Union.  Lincoln was elevated to the most celebrated abolitionist to live.  When you look to the west, we have stories of the shootout at the OK Corel, Custer’s last stand, Geronimo, and others.   Who can forget the 1950 and 1960s coonskin cap craze where David Crocket, already a mythical character during his lifetime, would be elevated to killing a bear when he was three years old and holding back the entire Mexican army at the Alamo.  In most of these stories, the focus has been the positive, right, and heroic aspects of the men and women.   

With the age of the Internet, various “history” experts, the broad study and examination of history, we have begun to see that these mythological figures from our American history are often anything except what we were taught or led to believe.  Gradually that acceptance has led first to reports, papers, and articles indicating that “nobody” is perfect.  Dale Carnegie published the famous book “Lincoln The Unknown.”  A careful study of the Emancipation Proclamation will find that it did not free slaves in the Union.  The American Mythology has always been careful to avoid the fact that Lincoln’s in-laws owned slaves, and that five slave states were fighting for the Union.  It has also been careful to ignore that those slave states in the Union held slavery long after the Emancipation Proclamation.  To this day, the Proclamation is debated whether it was  Constitutionally legal since Lincoln had no power to change laws.  The list goes own. Continue Reading →

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The Fourth July and a Nation Tested

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The other night I was watching a show. The characters were complaining about all the riots, burnings of businesses, peaceful and non-peaceful protest, the government overreach, abuse of powers, and all the significant issues affecting the United States.  For several minutes the main character went on a rant about everything that is wrong with the United States.  He talked about how we treat people, the way we have expanded, our tendency for wars, and how our leaders have been corrupt.  It all struck a chord, and for a moment, I thought I was watching a news commentary from today.  A quick check of the show’s original air date indicated it aired first in the 1970s.  The program was over forty years old, but it sounded like a newscast from today.  It served as a gentle reminder that what we face today is nothing new for the United States. The United States has always been tested.  It seems that all great nations are tested throughout their history.  From the very start, we faced tests as a small country rolling into the unclear waters of rebellion against England. We had no idea how it would turn out.  The men who met secretly and signed the Declaration of Independence knew they could be the signing their death sentences.  Many of them lost fortunes, lives, and all they had for merely signing their names to a paper that said we want to be independent.   Had they lost that war, there would be no United States, and since the winners always write history, there would be no heroes in Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and others.    These men were not perfect.  In fact, in their times, they were very far from perfect.  We must remember that had they been faultless, they would have been excellent subjects to the crown.  They would have been loyal, trusting of the King, and they certainly never would have risen in rebellion.   

From that moment forward, the United States has been tested.  We have faced foreign invasions, the issues of slavery, reconstruction, expansion at the cost of land that belonged to others, and an inequality system that often elevates the rich over the poor.  Even during the formative years, we often forget that things like the Boston Tea Party had little to do with a “party.”  The truth is their protest turned into a riot that destroyed property as tea owned by merchants was tossed into the harbor.  While we celebrate it today for the Sons of Liberty and their finest moment working as a catalyst that eventually sparked independence, it was a riot.  

Since Independence, tests continued with world wars, conflicts, financial crisis, desegregation, racism, and so many more challenges.  No, we are not perfect, and neither are the heroes who came before us.  Most American heroes were simply men and women in the right place at the right time to take a stand or action that helped propel the United States forward. Through each test the United States has faced, we have grown and grown better from it.  Regardless of the flaws of the founding fathers, the fact is their actions secured this nation.  Tests came in the forms of horrible events toward our fellow men and beautiful moments of discovery and advancement.    Whether you like the history or not, it has been a test for the United States.  The country has risen above and grown to be better today because of the test. Continue Reading →

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The Use of “Emergency Powers” May Be Just Another Test of Control

Opinion: There has been a lot of talk about government overreach and control recently. Government overreach and control was especially seen during the three months of “shutdown” and “stay at home” orders of the pandemic. People debated, discussed, and worried that the government was exercising excessive overreach and control. Like many, I believe in some areas; officials did overreach the limits of their power. I also think those instances of overreach will need to be discussed, reviewed, and someone will have to deal with the consequences of overreach. Continue Reading →

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Fireworks Should Not Launch Near Animal Shelter

Opinion: As we draw close to the Fourth of July weekend, I searched on social media and other outlets to determine when and where Sparks in the Park would be this year. What I found has somewhat disturbed me. Texarkana United, which appears to be an exceptional organization in Texarkana, is holding a Fourth of July event in downtown Texarkana. According to their Facebook page, it will be to celebrate God and our country. In a video released by the group, they stated there “will be fireworks over the city of Texarkana” during the event downtown on the 4th of July. Continue Reading →

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The “Abolish the Police” Chant Fails to Consider Evil

Opinion: “Abolish the Police” is the latest cry from Minneapolis and across the nation. Still, this radical idea fails to take into consideration evil, and as a result, the answer is a resounding “No!”  While the nation and cities can certainly consider reform, new training, and new guidelines, the one thing that will be overwhelming a key point is that the nature of evil will not change.  Just because a city does not have the police force, evil will not suddenly say, “Oh, well, that’s no fun anymore, let me go find a city with the police!”  Evil does not work that way. The groups wishing to abolish the police seem to believe they are breaking new ground and moving in new directions.  They have good ideas – get rid of poverty, elevate citizens, educate, and have “Community” intervention groups to deal with problems.  As good as it sounds, it’s not new.  History is dotted with examples of where societies have tried to take away things viewed as the core problem of crime, such as poverty, inequality, unfair treatment, etc.  Each time this has been implemented, it has failed.  The idea sounded good on paper as they discussed how removing all these issues would bring out the positive attributes of humanity.  The idea was fundamental in that people would see how good they have it, and suddenly they would become peace-loving, happy, and content members of society.  It did not work.  The reason it did not work is back to the root of the problem, and that is evil. Evil does not leave towns without police, or cities with open-minded and fair citizens.  If it did, then every western town of the United States expansion period would have been a perfect haven for law and order.  They were not.  Wherever you look at history, a town, city, state, etc. organized without police has had critical, deadly, and dire consequences.  Towns without police were overrun, tormented, burned, and pillaged throughout history.  Even when those towns attempted to introduce police, often those police were outnumbered by those wishing to push evil into the area.  It took years of work, and sometimes entire groups of people deputized into law enforcement to bring law and order to the western expansion. Continue Reading →

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Yes, We Are Opening, But Should We Have Ever Closed?

Opinion: For the most part, there are two camps in the opening debate running across the United States.  One camp says, “Open.”  The other camp, maybe a little too obvious, says, “Don’t Open.”  The arguments each way can go on for hours.  Some say it’s too soon; others say it should have been done sooner or we should never have closed, and still, others say open now.  Let’s face it: there is no consistency, nobody knows the long term outcome one way or the other, and without businesses in operation, we will continue to spiral financially out of control. The Consistency Factor –Since the start of the pandemic, each Governor, mayor, county, or parish judge, and in some cases small-town groups have been in charge of deciding what gets shut down and what does not.  In some states, churches seemed to be the first target to shut down, but craft stores were left open.  In other states, sections of stores were closed off or hours were cut while in some states the entire store was wide open.  Many argued that there were more people at the local mega-sized shopping center than there would have been at the small-town church.  Orders ranged from no closure of churches, to complete closure with a ticket if anyone even set foot on church property.   This lack of consistency, and in some cases, extreme measures unseen in other parts of the country, caused many Americans to feel their rights were being trampled.  Let’s face it, trample our rights, and we Americans get upset.  The argument is sound – if Mississippi closes all churches, even parking lot meetings in cars, but Texas leaves all churches open, how is that fair?  Is COVID-19 transmission less in Texas than in Mississippi?  Even in the local area of Texarkana, one side of the border had a curfew, while the other side had a shelter in place.  Regardless of which measure you supported, the lack of consistency could be seen across the street.  

Without consistency, we cannot exalt the extreme hashtag of #AllInThisTogether because to be blunt…we are not, or at least we are not equally in this together.  Imagine if, during WWII, there had been no consistency in air raid responses in the United States.  What if one town decided when an air raid sounded, they would turn off their lights, but another city decided they would not?  Imagine if those towns were as close as Texarkana, Texas, and Arkansas.  What would have happened in Texarkana had an air raid been real, enemy planes flew over to bomb, and Texarkana, Texas had all lights on while Arkansas was dark?  We would have all suffered because of the lack of consistency.  The lack of consistency has undoubtedly hurt us in a period that we really needed to be “All In This Together.” 

The Nobody Knows Factor –The last major pandemic to have such a sweeping impact on the United States ended in December of 1920.  The Spanish Flu spread and dominated the world from roughly January of 1918 through 1919.  It was still be tracked in places as late as the December 1920 date, which causes debate still as to how long it lasted.  Regardless of how long it lasted, those people that dealt with that pandemic from a government point-of-view are long gone.  Our current generation has no idea what the long-term outcome is going to be for COVID-19.  We could have a vaccine and pull out in a month, or it could be years of COVID-19 sparking up in areas around the world.   We do not know if opening today makes a difference or if opening up six months from now would make a difference.  We do not know if closing made much of a difference at this point, although numbers do seem to be rising since the opening phases started.  Overall though, we will not know the outcome of opening up right now until years from now.  We will study history and science behind this pandemic, and at some point, likely many years from now, there will be a verdict on the actions we take today.  That future review will indicate that we either made the right choices or the wrong choices.  Hopefully, that information will be used should there be a future pandemic.  Whatever the outcome is, we will have 20/20 hindsight vision, and right now, we have no idea what that 20/20 vision is going to show us. The Without Business Factor- Business makes the world go around.  It always has, and it likely will always make our societies function and thrive.  Without business, no money is made.  Without money, at least for our society now, nobody can pay for anything from food to shelter or utilities.  You don’t work, and you don’t pay the electric.  The electric company doesn’t get paid, and they cannot pay workers or keep plants running.  Those people at the plants do not get paid, and they cannot pay their bills.  So goes the cycle.  Also, in that vicious little cycle is a thing called taxes.  If you don’t work, you don’t pay taxes.  You do not pay taxes, and then the government does not have money.  While we may all marvel at the idea of not paying taxes, we must also accept the consequences of not paying taxes.  Without taxes, you have no educational money, Medicaid, Medicare, Police, Firemen, road repairs, new roads, military, state parks, federal parks, rules or regulations on utilities or limits on what they can charge, no city government, county government, state government, or U.S. government.  While some of that list may not worry many of us, the fact is while you’re not working, and the government has no income, it ultimately will not be able to pay your unemployment benefits.  So without business, failure sets in on a governmental level that will eventually affect all of us. It only takes a few minutes to scan the news, and you will find incidents of the government already suffering from a lack of tax revenue.  Naturally, elected officials made the hard and difficult decisions in many states.  They did not cut their salaries or benefits they felt are essential…no.  The first cuts announced were education – grants, loans, funding for schools, etc. – the next area was Medicaid – funding for healthcare for seniors, disabled people, poor, etc.  Please make no mistake, without business functioning, society as we know it will continue to break down.  Grocery prices will continue to soar, unemployment will continue to rise, and ultimately the government will continue to make cuts that will eventually affect you and me.  The business factor simply means we have to have the business open to move forward. Continue Reading →

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Drive-In Theaters Could Bring Back Movies During COVID-19

First Drive-In Theater in the United States from Wikipedia

Opinion: Drive-In Theaters could be our answer for movie cravings during the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery. In 1933, the first Drive-In Theater opened in the United States and started a long tradition that would not die off until the early 1990s. The concept was simple as you drove into a parking lot after paying an entry fee, selected your spot, and pulled the speaker into the car to watch the latest and greatest movie. Once the movie started, you viewed it on a giant screen and listened to your speaker as the action unfolded. When the movie was over, a somewhat orderly retreat out of the parking lot took you safely home with memories, popcorn in the seats, and often a joy-filled evening where you rarely left the confines of your car. Continue Reading →

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Regional Man Publishes New Book on Trump

Jarrad Shelton published “2016 How Donald Trump Saved America.” Jarrad Shelton has never been one to hide his opinions when it comes to political issues and it is apparent in his latest book. In “2016 How Donald Trump Saved America,” Shelton does not apologize as he adamantly and systematically puts his case for President Donald Trump saving America to paper. Shelton is no stranger to writing since his first book “The Intolerant ‘Tolerant’ Party” was published in 2017. That book directly confronts what Shelton’s sees as a party that refuses to tolerate others while preaching and promoting their platform as tolerant toward everyone. Continue Reading →

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A Field of “Donuts” at Smith Park

Opinion: On 4-17-2020 a video feed at Smith Park recorded several trucks running around the park area, and two of the trucks decided to do a few “donuts” in the field. The tires on the trucks are large and the video clearly showed grass and dirt flying up as first the red truck spun around. Within a moment, the red truck was joined by a black truck. The “fun” and donuts continued for a few minutes before the trucks drove away. County Judge Cathy Hardin-Harrison posted the video online with the following message:

Hey Folks, do you recognize the vehicles in this video? Continue Reading →

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God is with US!

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Opinion – This morning as I reviewed the updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, looked at the facilities I work with in Texas, and listened to reports, I heard the first report of a death in the Texarkana area. Like many others in the area, while not surprised as we expected this would happen, I was certainly struck at the heart. I felt a sense of loss for the family, our nation, and for our area. This loss was not someone from New York or another place, it was someone here in our hometown area. This person died right here in Texarkana, USA from COVID-19. Continue Reading →

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