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Opinion Letters

Civic responsibility trumps personal liberty

The vast majority of Americans have regarded and continue to regard our civil liberties as accompanied by certain obligations. Examples include military conscription in times of national crisis and the regular payment of the taxes that support our governing institutions. Individuals insisting that personal liberty trumps these sorts of responsibilities have always been a part of our body politic and have been dealt with harshly or leniently depending of the tenor of the times and the particular circumstances involved. But no matter how widespread such resistance has been, it rarely if ever has weakened national security or occasioned governmental insolvency.

In the last several weeks, the country has been confronted with a situation which has much more potential to disrupt our society. The undetected arrival of a single individual infected with the Ebola virus into the United States and the subsequent mismanagement of infected medical institutional contacts has led to the potential first degree exposure of at least several hundred persons, with countless secondary exposures if by any chance, unlikely as it has proved to be, one of these actually contracted the disease. This should not surprise anyone, as the early markers of an Ebola infection are no different than those of the common ’flu, and that season is about to begin. It will prove extraordinarily difficult to separate the deadly from the benign. It will be necessary to err on the side of caution.

The experience at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas shows how easily the diagnosis can be missed and how quickly the logistics in even a large institution called to manage a single case can be overwhelmed. Given the generous access to our country afforded by our traditional principles of liberty, it is inevitable that more cases will be encountered by our health care system before, hopefully, the current West African epidemic subsides. The remarkable success in managing the secondary cases identified after the Dallas event and in health workers diagnosed prior to arrival at our principle institutions suggests that the associated mortality may be quite low under ideal conditions. The key to continuing this success lies in the recognition that no institution, no matter how well prepared, will be able to handle large numbers of victims. The degree of necessary protection of attendant personnel is unprecedented.

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I have read the opinions going back and forth regarding the Nikwasi Mound in Franklin and am aware there are serious disagreements and difficulties on both sides. So I would like to present an idea of the future of the mound that would make everyone a winner.

The picture [right] is of the Indian Temple Mound Museum in the center of downtown Fort Walton Beach, Fla. Imagine what such a stone structure surrounding the Nikwasi Mound could mean to the residents of and visitors to Franklin. It would be a statement of the significance of the mound in Franklin's history and would honor the Cherokee heritage. Imagine also how such a beautiful structure would enhance the town and east Main Street. Perhaps an outdoor interpretative exhibit could be included, and a history/heritage trail could be established from the Franklin Historical Museum to the Scottish Tartan Museum to the Nikwasi Mound and on to the Greenway.

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When it comes to the end of our time, most of us want to go peacefully at home with our families if we have the choice. That doesn’t happen by accident. We had no warning with my Mom, who died suddenly, but with Dad three years later, who died blind and deaf with severe complications of diabetes and advanced heart disease, it was a long, agonizing process. For several months it was trips to the emergency room every time he had a crisis until we could find a nursing home, all the while trying to maintain our own jobs, homes and families and still meet his needs. With Medicare rules prohibiting long term care in nursing homes, he had to be self-pay and still had ER trips many times. Over the six months, we drained his finances and our own physical and emotional health.

In his last days, he lay for weeks in severe pain. One day his nurse asked if I knew about hospice. I didn’t. When I became aware, I immediately asked for hospice services. For the first time, Dad was given the pain medications he needed to rest easily, and a week later, he died in relative peace.

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Evolution isn’t just about life on this planet changing. Political views constantly evolve. There was a time when the Democrats were firm believers in slavery and used the Bible to justify their position. Fortunately, Lincoln was a Republican and ended slavery.

As best I can tell, early Liberals believed in a “live and let live” philosophy but of late, Liberalism has become an ideology of forcing people to think and act according to what the “great thinkers” believe.

Now of course, Liberalism must be enforced by law. A good example of that is the former mayor of NYC who all but ruined the pastry business by passing laws to eliminate fat from pastry. Pastry has tasted awful since then.

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