Hope for something better
Occasionally, letters to the editors of our various media outlets here in Arkansas reveal the sentiments of those who do not put much stock in the Bible. But observe closely and you will see that, more often than not, these letters convey the sense that many, if not most, Arkansans place a great deal of importance in the scriptures. It is not surprising since we live on the buckle of the Bible Belt. So it is to the scriptures that we can turn for words of guidance, direction and, yes, hope.
But before doing that, we want to commend our Senate and House of Representatives for their approval, albeit narrowly, of the private option funding. Why did we need this legislation? Take a look at some sobering statistics. According to americashealthrankings.org 2010, among the 50 states Arkansas ranks 42nd or worse in the areas of stroke, occupational fatalities, infant mortality, obesity, premature death, immunization coverage, per capita health spending, lack of health insurance, children in poverty, physical activity, cardiovascular deaths, poor physical health days and cancer deaths. Do we want our hospital emergency rooms to have to cover all of these — and then pass on the costs to the Arkansas taxpayers? Are not so many of our legislators concerned with budgets, as they claim to be?
Can we not collectively, as a people, hope for something better? Hope is one of the most powerful words in our vocabulary, as well as the Bible. Often born of adversity, it longs for a better day when the fortunes of one's self, and others, will be better than they happen to be at the present time. Arkansas is filled with people hoping for something better in their lives.
Many of the folks in Arkansas who quote the scriptures find themselves described by them. For example, there is Leviticus 19:1, 9-10: The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: "When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God." We have rich and we have poor, we have those who harvest the land and those who can only be described as "the poor and the alien."
From the beginning, the Bible's mandate is clear that those who reap have the responsibility to share with those who cannot. If our scriptures have one single values theme, it is certainly this!
Apart from the political reasons for supporting the bill, we commend its successful passage from the standpoint of biblical faith. Too long we have turned our collective back on those described in Hebrew scripture as "the poor and the alien," and in the gospels as "the least of these." Now we have the impetus to step up and do that which is right and good, that which will offer hope to the people of Arkansas who otherwise might find it in very short supply.
Rabbi Gene Levy and Rev. Randy Hyde
Thanks to Blue Hog
If anyone in Central Arkansas deserves a laurel and a hearty handshake for his work lately, it's Matt Campbell with his Blue Hog Report. His record of outing the venal and miscreant in Arkansas public office is laudable. Campbell's success at ferreting out and bringing to light unpleasant truths about some of our public officials and business leaders is an example of how a "citizen journalist" empowered by the FOIA can make an important difference.
Our late Gov. Rockefeller and those legislators who gave us the Freedom of Information Act in 1967 deserve thanks, as well. Their desire for increased transparency in state government and their willingness to face down those who preferred that the drapes remain closed are what have made investigative journalism like Campbell's possible.
As a small minority of our lawmakers, law enforcers and bureaucrats, both grand et petit, sometimes fails to recognize malfeasance when it occurs within its own environs, the ability of the press, both establishment and upstart, to peer behind the curtains and rummage through the files provides a necessary check on misconduct by our officials.
Government functions best when its actions and those of its officers are open to public scrutiny. Eternal vigilance is still the price of liberty and is absolutely required if honest, competent government is to be had.
No kids at Oaklawn, please
This past weekend we ventured over to Oaklawn Park for a day of fun at the races, and though we had a great time, I strongly believe the facility should be renamed to include Oaklawn Park Racing and Day-Care Center. We have never seen so many children under the age of 8 running around screaming, playing tag and making a mockery of what once was considered "adult entertainment."
If you will not allow your child or children into a bar, why then allow them into a gambling facility that allows smoking, drinking and cursing? There is no excuse for children under 16 being allowed into Oaklawn, none. We sat and listened to others complain at Oaklawn and the general consensus was: why? Once upon a time you had to be 16 years of age to get in; now it is baby strollers everywhere you look, babies being carried in arms or on backs, children screaming at the top of their lungs at each other and having popcorn fights. We sat in amazement and watched as a woman carrying a stroller maneuvered down the stairs with four children under the age of 5 tagging behind. Again, why?
We also ventured outside and there was another boy about 11 with his basketball bouncing it up and down and not realizing that there were floods of people walking by. Then, of course, you have the strollers. Everywhere you look there is someone pushing a stroller in and out of folks trying to bet or get a bite to eat. They run into you and then stare as if you did something wrong, as if seeing a stroller and babies is not bad enough as it is. They clog the aisles and race from one end of the track to the other; they run into you, keep going and pay no attention to what is going on around them.
It is a shame that Oaklawn felt the need to open up a gambling and drinking facility that was once considered an adult venue and tried to make it family friendly. Must every place that once was considered an "adult venue" be subjected to what society feels is "correct" and allow children in? Are there not already enough venues where children are freely welcomed without pushing the boundaries of what was once considered adult entertainment?
Do I hate children? No, but there is a time and a place for everything, and as an adult I (and apparently several thousand others) feel Oaklawn should realize that the race track is not a family outing, and that betting/gambling, drinking and having an adult good time is not the place for young children. All Oaklawn is doing is pushing away the adults who were once considered the main target of racing and letting their facility become one huge day-care center.
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