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February 3, 2014

Readers’ Forum: Feb. 4, 2014

As time goes on, our society’s traditions change

This is a response to a recent letter from Bill Jaeger.

Mr. Jaeger, I thank you for voicing your opinion. Freedom of speech is one of the liberties and inalienable rights that our country upholds. While people may disagree on certain issues, they have the right to voice their opinion without fear of governmental interference or retribution. This is one of the things that makes this country great.

While I respect your right to voice your opinion, I find your actual opinion rather disconcerting. I am very aware of the human anatomy and the functions of the human body’s reproductive organs. I did not need to go to college to learn this. It appears that you judge people based on their anatomy, and you limit their roles in society based on what reproductive organs they have.

The thing is, Mr. Jaeger, people are not defined by their reproductive organs. They also are not defined by the color of their skin, and they are not defined by their religion. Just read the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution, and you will see that this country was founded on recognizing the rights of“people” and “persons,” terms that are not defined in the document. Also, the whole intent of the Constitution was to limit the powers of government and to expand the rights of the people. HJR-3 runs contrary to this intent by expanding the power of government (where it does not have the power) and limiting the rights of people.

With respect to tradition, you state that tradition cannot be ignored. Traditions are customs or usages of the past that influence us in the present. As our world and cultures change, so do our behaviors and traditions. Some traditions we still follow, while others we do away with because they no longer apply in our changing world.

For example, the traditional roles of men and women in the ’50s no longer exist in 2014 because the roles of men and women in our society have changed. The traditional family of yesteryear, of husband, wife and two children, does not accurately describe the “family” of today.

So while I respect your right to voice your opinion about tradition, I have to say that I respectfully disagree with it. We cannot blindly follow tradition for tradition’s sake. We have a duty to determine whether the tradition is applicable to our present world and whether it may be unjust to some people in our society.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream for his children. He said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

I have a dream that all people will one day live in a nation where people will be judged and respected simply by the content of their character and nothing else.

— Mary Rose Silva, Terre Haute

Education alone won’t end poverty

Insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

A 2013 George Will column reported studies by the Cato Institute showing that economic success of children mirrors the success of parents.

This means that today’s poverty babies will be tomorrow’s poverty parents.  

Forget what you have heard on TV. Poverty has, in fact, been a perpetual 13.8 percent (plus/minus 1.2 percent) of Americans since 1970, including a predictable 15 percent in 2012. And, income level definition for poverty has not changed since 1959, except for cost of living.

Head Start has failed, but if you cling to pre-school as an answer, consider the 1960s Perry Pre-school Project where 4- and 5-year-old poverty kids were specially taught by certified teachers.

When Perry students reached age 27, only 65 percent had completed high school and 57 percent of Perry females had born children out of wedlock. At age 40, 28 percent had served time in jail, 32 percent of those for violent crimes, and 59 percent had received welfare — not what we need.

The real problem is that, by age 3, poverty babies hear half as many spoken words as average. One has to assume this makes the brain less susceptible to later learning; and lack of learning equals poverty.

Yet nearly every school official, politician and political candidate continues to talk about priority in education, poverty centers, Common Core, teacher efficiency and pre-school, without considering, even mentioning, learning before age 3.

Unlike Will Rogers, they don’t even know what they read in the newspapers.

— Ron Gore, Covington

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