A Time For Healing
The events of the past few years, and especially the past few weeks, have compelled me to search for answers to why our wonderful nation is so divided. As a former sheriff and police officer for forty one years, I have always been a truth seeker. I would like to share some basic truths that I have discovered.
First, my entire life I have heard that you should avoid at all costs discussions about politics and religion. Although I understand the reason for this statement, I adamantly disagree with it. For most of my adult life I have tried to convince family and friends to “convert” to my way of thinking. I now know that is a terrible waste of time. Recently I have found it very rewarding to show grace and civility to those who believe differently than I do. If we can all accept one basic truth: that we all want what’s best for our children and grandchildren, this should not be difficult.
Second, we are all appalled by the rioting in our cities and the recent raid on our nation’s capital. Basic truth: political leaders from both parties have fanned this flame with their ugly, divisive rhetoric. According to God’s word we are to show respect for our leaders. My prayer is that our leaders will start behaving in a manner worthy of our respect.
Finally, our nation has survived and thrived for years with differing political beliefs. It’s time to get back to showing respect and civility to each other, and demanding the same from our leaders.
May God bless you and this great nation.
If the chaos at the Capitol has taught us anything it is to remember the wisdom of George Carlin who opined:
“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”
Watching the doings made me wonder if George was a bit too much of an optimist.
Of course he also said
“In America anyone can become president. That's the problem.”
And you have to wonder…
Do you think the debacle in D.C. will be like Woodstock in reverse? You know, whereas when it comes to Woodstock about 10 times the people who were there, say they were there, will something like 10 times fewer people say they were on site at one of America’s most discomposing and disappointing moments than the number witnessed?
“So I understand you were at that rally turned riot back in 2021?”
“Whaa? Me? No man, I thought about going but I just felt the whole thing might turn ugly so I stayed home and watched it on TV. Just awful what those people did.”
Gotta say, not a big fan of the new online gambling about to launch in our bipeninsular paradise. Having worked with people struggling with addictions for more years than I care to count and witnessed the ravages compulsive gambling can bring makes me wonder why on Earth we would be expanding access to betting?
Oh, that’s right. It’s the old reliable ‘people are going to do it anyway so let’s get it taxed’ rationale.
Except the difference between connecting with a bookie or driving to a casino and sitting home after a few too many beers and deciding that gambling is your way out of your current financial position seems...well...
But at least it looks like the sites are giving people who register some free money to start with because of their generosity. And the plethora of ads promoting the new ‘gaming’ opportunities each include a number to call if you think you have a gambling problem.
Because the odds are good that most people with a problem like addiction will recognize it right away before it does a lot of damage.
Kudos to the Cleveland Baseball Club for doing away with their obsolescent nickname and all the stereotypical nonsense that accompanied it (Chief Wahoo? Really?).
Same for the Washington Footballers who finally canned their lame label prior to this season.
Maybe it’s time for some high schools in the area to follow suit and stop the use of antiquated offensive identifiers.
And please don’t use the ‘Tradition’ argument. Many schools have seen fit to move from these condescending nicknames to something less offensive to our Native citizens and there are far too many ‘traditions’ in our history that we were wise to stop following (i.e. not allowing women to vote, segregation, etc.).
Stay safe, get the vax when you can and grab yourself some take out grub from our local restaurateurs who are playing by the rules and eschewing inane slogans on their signs.
-Ken De Laat
Responses from our readers
Last week we challenged readers to send us their take on 2020.
We got a few takers...
Beth Keloneva spoke to an activity many have embraced since the pandemic:
“What comes to mind for me is my hiking. I was able to hike 100 miles, as part of the North Country Trail hike 100 Challenge. I got my patch and certificate. I am 65 years old and accomplished the miles 2-3 at a time on the trails nearby.”
For Sandy Thomas it was time to take a leap:
So I had been on the fence for a couple of years about retirement. When covid hit it actually pushed me right off that fence! My husband has some serious health issues. The previous fall we bought a camper and some property on the river, so I decided now was the time to start relaxing and enjoying life! One of the best decisions I ever made.
Jeremiah Eckert found the year to be pretty productive:
2020 was a good year. I woke up every morning and went to work every morning except on Sundays worked with some good people and made some friends. 2020 wasn't that bad.
And that was pretty much it.
Then we received this missive from our gardening guru Donna (Hands in the Dirt) Iverson.
And we found it to be as enlightening as her perpetually pleasing articles on the gardening life.
Reflections on 2020
While much of the focus this past year has been on masks, my experience of 2020 has been more about isolation. (Full disclosure: I am a mask wearer)
Isolation probably comes easier for me than most. I’m an introvert and have always sought solitude. Since childhood, I dreaded large family get-togethers, avoided large crowds, and generally kept to myself. Growing up, I preferred to explore the fields and woods around my grandparents' Whitehall farm than playing group games or sports in my suburban neighborhood.
But in the last year, I have learned more about the gifts of solitude than a lifetime has taught me.
Since March, my daily walks have taken on a new importance as a way to de-stress, ground and connect to nature. More and more, I gravitate toward quiet places, with trees and views of Muskegon Lake. A lifelong tree hugger, I found a new appreciation for trees after reading a book called the Secret Life of Trees. The author describes how trees are connected by their root systems and offer each vital nutrients especially their weaker neighbors. A lesson I take to heart.
While I never jumped onto the sourdough bread craze as I am a mediocre cook, I have been cooking weekly trays of corn muffins. I’m guessing that corn muffins were a frontier food and I’m drawn to basic foods like muffins. I bought a book called cooking with cast iron which offers recipes like grilled cheese, homemade tomato soup and baked apples. Food I never seem to tire of.
Books and videos
During the pandemic I have discovered the Michigan author Joseph Haywood, who writes mysteries that take place in the woods of the Upper Peninsula. His detective, conservation officer Grady Service, hunts down poachers and other criminal types in books like Ice Hunter and Blue Wolf in Green Fire. I discovered this author after reading a NYT article reporting that Haywood was on our governor’s bookshelf. And a shout out to all the public library people who offer friendly smiles and service during a pandemic.
Even though I’m an introvert and seek solicitude, I have learned to acknowledge my need for community and support. When I have reached out to family or friends and asked for help (which I am loath to do ), I have been met with generosity and kindness. As I do not have a car, a cousin took me to an emergency dental appointment and another cousin to the vet to get my cat’s shots. A Facebook friend offered me a ride if I should ever need one and showed up to help with an errand when the sidewalks turned icy. A credit union teller offered me a bottle of water when I said I was feeling faint. I hope to return these favors in whatever way I am able and am grateful that a virus that threatens to drive us apart may, in fact, be pulling us closer together
First, let me say, I dislike ZOOM. But in the last few months, I have kept in contact with my three brothers (two of whom live in California and one in Saugatuck) with ZOOM meetings, and I have to say, despite the artificiality of staring at each other, I have enjoyed the camaraderie it offers.
And last but not least is my community garden, where I spent many an hour in Spring, Summer and Fall. Growing things, foraging food, and playing in the dirt has always nourished my soul. And this year, more than ever. When the cold rolled in, I put together my first windowsill garden, composed of three aloe plants. They are green and growing and remind me of better times ahead. A happier new year everyone. Peace, joy, love and light.
Thank you Ms. I.
And thanks to all who either sent us their thoughts, or were inspired to reflect on the year in a privately positive manner.
We hope a similar endeavor next year will be a little easier when it comes to finding the high points of the 12 month run.
We Want To Hear From You!
What a year, huh?
2020 is nearly done and while it has been the most unusual of all the years in our recall (though admittedly our recall is not always pinpointedly accurate) it has had some high points.
While the fallout of the pandemic has sent folks reeling for some there have been insights, breakthroughs, awarenesses, and positive changes. Lifestyle adjustments were made, relationships enhanced and personal growth became part of the program as we muddled our way through a new way of interacting with life itself.
Kind of the ultimate Yin/Yang.
With the headlines and social media filled with the downside this year hath wrought we are looking for your 2020 story of resilience, hope, strength and change. They can be as short as a sentence or as long as a few paragraphs. Humorous, touching, dramatic, adventurous, insightful, or just plain entertaining we hope to gather the stories of 2020 and post them in a collection worthy of bidding farewell to what is surely a year all will remember for a long long time.
Send your contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include a photo or two if you wish.
It’s been a trying year for all of us so let’s go out with a bang.
Hope to hear from you soon.
Near North Now
By Ken De Laat
As long as we know in our hearts what Christmas ought to be, then Christmas is.” -Eric Severeid.
Ahh Christmas week.
It looks a bit different this year with all we’ve been through. Take a pandemic and pile it onto an election year with both sparking levels of divisiveness deep enough to cause rifts among family and friends and you’ve created the perfect storm for those who still believe their social media posts can actually impact anyone.
Anyone at all.
But back to Christmas.
The story out of Hesperia ‘2 Moms and a Grocer” touched us here at N3WH and we thank our Right Place friend Julie Burrell for sending it our way. These folks are the difference between those who talk about spreading kindness and those who roll up their sleeves and get it done. So, if you happen to see Ms. Stoneburner, Ms. Worcester and/or Mr. Rumsey around and about toss them a little gratitude for delivering on some Christmas spirit.
Speaking of Christmas spirit, kudos to the Consumers Energy folks who poured some cash into local Chambers to support businesses in small towns throughout the state including our own Fremont and Newaygo C of C’s. Their Our Town dollar for dollar match is a boon during a tough time.
“This is that shot in the arm that all of us need right now!” said Fremont Exec Director Karen Baird.
Couldn’t agree more.
And check out our good friends at Hit the Road Joe who are offering up a free Christmas Dinner no questions asked at their cozy little Croton eatery. They have been doing it right since the start focusing on take out meals (Saturdays mean great pizza by the way) until they can open their doors again so if you don't need a free meal on the 25th, support these fine folks with one of their delectable dinners.
And you'll find no political nonsense on their signs either.
Got presents left to buy? Go local with the vendors that have graced our pages these past few weeks. Good stuff, good prices, quality workmanship...
And local, man. We got to go local.
If you’ve ever been to N3 World Headquarters during Christmastime it would not be difficult to figure out why it is often referred to as Bronner's West. The decorations adorn each room and create an aura of enchantment to accompany the season.
In the past these delightful displays would be enjoyed by many via a holiday party, some get togethers with friends and the occasional drop by guest.
This year with nary a holiday party nor even the visits that often accompany the season it would have been easy to take it down a notch or two.
But not a trinket, ornament, spangle, or display was missing this year thanks to the creativity of Lifetime Spousal Companion Lil who always makes the season bright and N3WH the site of some serious spirit. Her love of the holiday can be seen in every corner of the dwelling and lingers in the air with the playing of carols.
In the past I’ve been known to be a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to Christmas but the decades of spending holidays with one who truly embraces the season has softened me considerably. This year I’ve really enjoyed the decor, listened to and even hummed along at a few carols and sat with her as she takes in some of the annual flood of Hallmark movies.
Like I said the house looks great, the music has been festive and fun and the Hallmark movies are…are…
Did I mention all the great cookies and candies filling the kitchen?
"What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace."- Agnes M. Pahro
By Joan Perry Ludtke
Ms. Ludtke who has frequently contributed photos of the White Cloud Cross team to our pages is retired from a teaching career that included coaching track & field. An avid hiker she can often be found visiting and revisiting trails near and far regardless of the season.
I was the original anti-vaxxer.
It was the spring of 1954, a time when events and results just happened, with little explanation or discussion. Fate was just accepted. I was a first grade student in Mrs. MacArthur’s room, at McKinley Elementary in Warren, MI. I also had her for kindergarten. It was the best classroom ever, with an outside entrance, a coat and boot room, a swinging yard gate, our own bathroom, room for naps and twice the size of a regular room.
But I knew it was coming. I heard the word “polio”, but knew nothing about it, and heard that my mother had signed a paper allowing me and my two sisters to be part of a study to prevent the spread of polio. Back then, few discussed it, but everyone feared it. Being an observant little 1st grader, I figured out it was a SHOT!
On that tragic and fateful day, I had a plan! It came time to line up for the long walk down the hallway, one left turn then a quick right past the second grade classrooms, followed by two rights to the “health room” which was really a broom closet. Well, not me! As others lined up, I disappeared into our classroom’s anti-vaxxer bunker, also known as the bathroom. Safe from all harm. No needles for me.
I’m not sure how long it took, but it wasn’t long before someone missed me, sent Mrs. Edith MacArthur to track me down. Of course, I cried extremely loud , but no one cared. Against my will, without being asked, with no vote, no appeal, and no one to back me up, I became one of our country’s first Polio Pioneers.
Now here’s the rest of the story: By the end of that school year I could read quite well. We were lucky enough to have the Detroit News delivered every Sunday. Comics were read first, but then came the front section with its booming headlines. Many Sundays, after church, I sat in the armchair reading, not just the headlines, but stories that I still remember, viewing pictures that can’t be unseen. Week after week, pictures of hospital wards, children lying in iron lungs, not being able to breathe on their own and suffering paralysis. There were stories overheard from adults about a classmate not doing well, other children now crippled, and some not quite so ill. I said , ``Not me!” one more time.
As usual, a little education can change an attitude. The word “shot” was replaced by “vaccine”. I began to read about Jonas Salk and others and their search for a safe vaccine to prevent polio. I suffered through two more trips to the broom closet with fewer tears, and became a Proud Polio Pioneer.
By Ken De Laat
To begin, as admittedly a bit of a defense, I adore nurses.
As a group I find them to be in possession of a special kind of wisdom as well as a deep sense of compassion, and an innate ability to cut through the nonsense.
And they are seldom wrong because if there is anything they despise it is mistakes.
Because in their field mistakes can be incredibly costly.
I have been around nurses most of my life with three stints of hospital work sprinkled through a lengthy, diverse and dust gathering personal resume.
One of my best friends from years ago graduated from nursing school...not the 4 year degree from a college mind you but the old hands on, clinical work every day variety that produced a cadre of skilled clinicians.
My favorite boss of all time was a nurse, the late Helen Brent who taught me the meaning of true leadership.
I was mentored in the field of psychiatric care by Harry Lemmon who had begun his nursing career in the 1920’s.
We have nurses throughout the family with nieces, great nieces, in laws, etc. performing the good work.
Oh and my favorite nurse?
The lovely and exceptionally patient woman who has allowed me to share her life the past several decades. So, yes, I am exceptionally fond of nurses.
And I like TV.
And what has this to do with anything you ask?
Well if you notice at all there are a seemingly endless amount of television shows that have something or other to do with medicine.
And for years...nay more like decades...of watching the tube together there is one thing I learned.
If you feel like you’re watching TV too much you can eliminate all shows related to medicine simply by sitting down and watching one with a nurse.
They will point out the discrepancies between real life and television life in no uncertain terms.
And once you see the man behind the curtain (love WizofOz references) the show’s interest diminishes rapidly.
China Beach 1988
Doogie Howser 1989
Chicago Hope 1994
Grey's Anatomy 2005
All were short lived watch material. The 11 year sabbatical between ER and Grey’s apparently didn’t do a thing for the accuracy on the screen.
And don’t get me going on Nurse Jackie (2009). I kind of liked it but for a time I thought this show would create a groundswell of rebellion with angered RNs from across the country demanding this oh so offensive offering be not just cancelled but also ensure any remaining copies of the show be destroyed.
Then a couple weeks ago a new show much ballyhooed by its network called Nurses debuted and we decided to give it a try since it was said to portray the heroism often required in this field.
Admittedly it was awful. Poorly written, poorly acted and absent of any discernible charm.
And although retired from the profession (though most RNs go dormant rather than really retire) the show’s many shortcomings clearly disappointed the nurse I live with.
“Why can’t they put out a show about nurses that at least is somewhat accurate?”
I have the answer.
Because no one who has not been there nor spent time with the people who populate this profession would believe what it is truly like on their end. There is the physical part of the job to be sure but the emotional toll is one that few can imagine much less handle. They are there to deal with people at the worst times of their life or sometimes at the best part of their lives but there is no middle ground. The work can go from 0 to 60 in a moment, there are doctors to contend with (some smart enough to form collegial relationships with these front liners and some who wear their narcissism like a badge of honor) families of patients, and any number of outside forces seemingly designed to make the day difficult.
And romance? Often a major part of these shows?
Yeah. As if there’s time or desire for any of that when you’re knee deep in patient care and erupting crises until utterly exhausted.
Lately the profession has been given its due in many circles by virtue of being the people who are forced into dealing with the results of this pandemic while of course needing to continue on with the work they did every day when we were in a non pandemic world.
No other group I know could possibly be better equipped to handle this and it grieves me to think of those who toil in places where the sheer volume renders their jobs dangerously close to impossible, a situation that can arrive quickly in rural areas such as ours.
So if you don’t believe in masks, well good for you. If you think the pandemic is fake? Well that’s just peachy. If you persist in being anti-vax, anti-mask, and maintain a grip on those little conspiracy theories some of you embrace so readily while calling science and medicine fake news?
But make no mistake, you each have a hand in keeping the ongoing battle these most venerated nurses are engaged in thriving. When you insist on making minor inconveniences your stand for some convoluted sense of freedom you , whether you can believe it or not, are depriving others of their health and perpetuating this dreadful siege.
Oh and if this were truly a TV show?
You’d be the bad guys.
A response to Rep. VanSingel
By Kathy Morrison
You say, Representative VanSingel, that you are furious about the governor’s extension of closures.
I am furious that your party fought her tooth and nail early on in the pandemic, prompting the “us versus them”, “mask versus non-mask”, “science versus fantasy” climate that has worsened the spread.
I hear over and over that your party leadership does not feel a mask mandate is needed, but instead, people will make the personal choice to do the right thing and wear one. I’ve heard Republican arguments that public messaging will be effective enough. Everyone has seen the news, read the case accounts, driven past rallies, and watched social media footage of hundreds, sometimes thousands, gathering closely together, unmasked. What would make anyone think that those who have already very flagrantly flaunted mask wearing, will suddenly decide to follow public messages over what they see as a Democrat party plot. These are the constituents that voted you into office. They have very verbally and in action, proven they won’t follow the lead of the Democrat leadership, so there appears to be only one option: an effort to make them wear masks via a strong and forceful Republican led pro-mask movement.
This leadership needs to come from the GOP. Not in a few weeks or a few months. Left, right, Democrat, Republican, we all need it - now. Talking, waiting to convince, hoping for change and conformity will only cost lives and prolong our full economic recovery, which is only going to happen when we can all safely reopen.
Representative VanSingel, you are in a unique position, given your recent recovery from Covid and newfound realization that masks are indeed critical. Your attempts at convincing your peers of the importance of masks are admirable. Your desire for public messaging is too. I can’t think of a better person to present televised public service announcements than an elected Republican leader who knows it is real, dangerous and nothing to mess with.
By all means, please do continue urging your Republican peers of the importance of mask wearing and the realities of Covid, but these steps are not sufficient in a situation that can’t wait days, weeks, or months for results. We may disagree on the format of how and where closures/county mandates should be organized and implemented but we definitely agree on the efficacy of masks. They are, as you said, perhaps the single most effective way we can prevent the spread of this virus. Slowing the spread means safe reopening, while allowing the spread to continue means prolonging closures and perhaps having to return to lockdown.
Please be the extraordinary leader we need now, despite what your party leadership is saying, and sponsor an enforceable mask mandate immediately. It may mean the difference between health and illness, between life and death.
By State Sen. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo
“As a state senator, I swore an oath to uphold the U.S. and Michigan constitutions. I take my oath of office seriously because I have great respect for both.
“I’ve been receiving numerous phone calls and emails from concerned residents across this state regarding the 2020 election. There is a lot of inaccurate information being spread regarding the authority of the state Legislature to overturn the election. My colleagues and I continue to work with legal counsel to ensure that we are doing all that we can with the real authority that is granted to us through the U.S. and Michigan constitutions.
“Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution gives each state the discretion to choose how the state will appoint presidential electors. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in multiple cases that state legislatures have the authority to choose whatever method they want of appointing electors, prior to an election. This is done through the legislative process and ultimately signed by the governor. A July 2020 Supreme Court decision upheld the power of states to pass laws requiring presidential electors to vote for their party’s candidate for president. The Supreme Court opinion states: ‘Article II includes only the instruction to each state to appoint, in whatever way it likes.’
“In 1954, the Michigan Legislature passed the Michigan Election Law, which says presidential electors in our state are awarded to the winner of the popular vote. Any presidential elector that refuses or fails to vote for the winning candidates for president and vice-president is required to resign and be replaced with an elector that will vote for the winner of the popular vote.
“On Nov. 23, the bipartisan State Board of Canvassers voted to certify Michigan’s election results. Our elections process gives candidates several opportunities to challenge results, and any claims of fraud in our election must go through the courts. The Michigan Legislature has no authority to overturn an election, reject certification or appoint different presidential electors because those powers are not granted to the Legislature through the federal or state constitutions.
“Voting is the foundation of our system of government, and people need to have confidence in the results and that their elections are being conducted honestly. Election security is not a partisan issue, and the integrity of our elections should be a priority for every Michigander.
On Nov. 7, the House and Senate Oversight committees launched hearings to investigate claims of fraud and voted to issue a subpoena to the Michigan Bureau of Elections for records regarding the elections process. On Dec. 1, the Senate Oversight Committee held a meeting to hear testimony regarding absentee voter counting at the TCF Center. On Dec. 2, the House Oversight Committee held a meeting to hear testimony from Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City and current member of President Donald Trump’s legal team.
“As the House and Senate Oversight committees continue to provide legislative oversight, I will continue to monitor these committee hearings, so we can identify policies to improve and strengthen our system to restore confidence in its integrity.”
To the Editor:
I recently returned back to my hometown of Fremont after a semester at NMU in Marquette. I came from a college campus where wearing a mask was normalized and socially accepted. I was disheartened to see many in this community were refusing to wear a mask in public spaces.
At college efforts were made to protect the college students, staff, and the larger community for the common good. That means if we all adhered to this effort of wearing a mask we could slow the spread of the virus, then the college could remain open, classes would continue, and we could have some semblance of normalcy.
The message I got was that wearing a mask was not just for me, but for everyone close to me, everyone close to them, as well as my college community. So when I wear my mask I think of the common good, keeping my roommate safe, his friends safe, but also your friends, family, as well as theirs. One small sacrifice for my larger community to avoid spreading illness and potential death.
How has something that protects you and those you love become so politically polarizing? This is not political, this is life and death. The importance and effectiveness of one small act - wearing a mask to protect others and ourselves from the spread of CoVid19 - has been lost in the unnecessary conflict. This is the giving season to look beyond our own self interest, to show we care about family, friends and strangers. What better way than to wear a mask? It costs nothing, but can mean so much to keep our family, friends and neighbors safe. If a bunch of 19-22 year olds, who typically think of themselves as bulletproof and self-centered can wear a mask for 12 weeks, our local community can do it too.
I challenge my home community, Newaygo County, to wear a mask in public until medical experts and epidemiologists can assure us that it is no longer necessary to curtail the spread of COVID. Let’s show that our community will put our individual needs aside for the common good in our beautiful corner of the world.
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