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Community Forum: Readers weigh in on the issues
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The manifestation of the position of power
I often find that power is a commodity that can be useful and productive or it can become destructive. Are we too quick to see or to recognize the flaws in others without seeing or recognizing our own?

Because I have never understood the impulse to be honest or correct when it serves no purpose but to hurt someone else, I believe that one could show compassion and tactfulness and avoid ill will.

Some have a tendency to see what you are before they hear what you are. The only way destructive or bad things flourish or continue to exist is when good people, with the will to do right, fail to take action for one reason or another. I believe the answer to any manipulation is to set limits without apology. We must understand that where the law compels, ethics persuade.

It is not necessary to analyze oneself just to put your own ideals and actions out there. It is then up to others to interpret those actions. The instructions that one follows can determine whether one will succeed. Whatever you can walk away from you can master. On the other hand, what you cannot walk away from, can actually master you. Honor is the seed of longevity.

The time comes when changes must be made from the way things are done. We must be committed to a progressive way of doing things. We must not live in the past. We must prepare for the future. The weapons that were used in the past are not appropriate for today's battle.

There are only three opinions that matter in life: God's opinion of you, your opinion of God and your opinion of yourself.

The home is one of the first institutions where we are born that we are taught values, respect for ourselves and others. We are taught morality and the difference between right and wrong. Sometimes success can rob us of these values.

(I once asked a very successful person how it feels to be at the top of the ladder of success. He replied: "I thank the people over and over again who continue to hold the ladder up for me.")

Sometimes I wonder if we are guilty of having more pride than judgment. It is very hard to face family, friends and acquaintances when you know you've "messed up." You must then confess how foolish and how wrong you have been in your thinking and in your actions toward others.

We are always forced to wonder what others will say and think of you. Yet, the only way a person can feel good about themselves is to confess, admit guilt and ask for forgiveness. This is what I believe is the underlying meaning of the Bible reference "confession is good for the soul."

May we all follow these instructions and feel better about being in the grace of God and our fellow man.

Mordecai Wilson
Lula

Don't forget negative sides of Christianity
Please allow me a brief response to letters from Bethel Midgett and Tack Cornelius regarding the founding of the U.S. on Christian principles.

We all agree that, of course, the predominant religion of the day affected the Founders' thoughts to one degree or another. The unspoken desire, though (in my opinion), of many of those who so adamantly insist on this being a "Christian influenced" nation is that it should be a Christian nation. That's where we disagree.

As for the "influence" of Christianity, I would caution the writers to be careful of espousing it too ardently. For Christianity has stood for slavery as much as freedom, for unfettered capitalism as much as charity, and for war as much as peace. Saying someone or some thing is Christian or has Christian principles does not define anything without serious parsing, and then not necessarily in a complimentary way.

Christians are as loving as anyone and as full of hate. Christians are as charitable as anyone and as greedy. Christians are in favoring of smiting their neighbor (even if they have to go 10,000 miles to do it) and of forging a healing society worldwide. It's a mixed bag that does not have to be spoken of in hushed tones or in red-hot oratory. I'm just calling for a bit of proportion when we single out one religion as the center of all goodness and humanity.

Huge churches today exist as "family activities centers" with gymnasiums, dance classes and private schools. Nothing wrong with that as long as Jesus' call to help the less fortunate, the sick, the elderly and the needy are kept at the forefront. Sadly, they are not, in general.

Just blocks from me a monumentally large Baptist church just sold its beautiful lawn for millions of dollars so that a developer can construct expensive condominiums. The land had been restful, green, tree-lined open space and a children's playground, in a crowded area badly in need of both. Their loss hurts the community. But it was more important to the church to maximize profit. So much for Christian priorities.

In short, Christians are wonderful people, except when they aren't.

Al Dale
Atlanta

Many residents need help with heating bills
This is concerning the high cost of heat this winter. I know President Bush has allotted $1.6 million for low income or disabled, but what about the working people who do not qualify? I paid a bill for $605 in November and now have another bill for $712 to be paid Jan. 31.

This is next to impossible. I don't know what to do about this situation, but maybe some of you out there have a solution.

The question is: Do we have heat or do we buy groceries and medicine? I am sure there will be people freezing to death this winter if some solution is not reached concerning this. I heat with propane and it is my understanding that natural gas is not much cheaper if any.

Edna Ashley
Gainesville

Better decisions can help overcome poverty
Some people believe crime and poverty go together because desperate people do desperate things to survive. Speaking in general, when poverty is reduced, crime is reduced.

The government and charity can give the homeless food and shelter, but the government and charity can't cure all ills that make people homeless, such as mental illness, addictions, sickness, bad choices, bad luck, etc.

Poor people can make what income they have go further by becoming health conscious. Give up addictions such as tobacco, alcohol and drug use. Get physical and mental exercise like walking, reading, etc. This will save you dollars and improve your health at the same time.

Save dollars by becoming energy conscious. Set the thermostat on 65 degrees instead of 80 degrees. Fill the tub one-quarter full instead of half full. Use appliances efficiently.

Save dollars by wise shopping. Look for bargains. Don't buy things you don't need. Never pay interest.
Save dollars by eating in instead of eating out. Eat out of the can instead of eating fresh.

Save dollars on entertainment by finding entertainment and hobbies that don't cost anything.

J.D. Haynie
Gainesville

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