The Steps to Nowhere

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The Steps to Nowhere

 

I pass by those steps every day.

Sometimes more than once.

Up to step three and then nothing.

 

Why are they there?

Maybe a reminder to someone?

A sign of what used to be, or could be?

 

Those concrete steps sit there alone.

Just a few weeds on their sides.

Up to step three and then nothing.

 

A child’s playhouse, a tool shed?

A small roadside store long ago?

Maybe a small home for a young couple?

 

Worn and rough with small rocks you see.

Refined and smooth edges gone away.

Up to step three and then nothing.

 

Possibly what is left of something that burned?

A glimpse of the what remains to remind them of the past.

Or maybe, could they be steps to the future?

 

A beautiful field with flowers and trees.

A picture of beauty is behind those steps.

Up to step three and then something.

 

Those steps almost call out for someone to use them.

For someone to see them for more than they appear.

Driving at a slower pace to get a glance.

 

They draw you to them and make you curious.

Maybe I’ll stop and take a look.

Up to step three and then something.

 

A very visible path led the way.

Up to step one. Don’t worry what others think.

Stepping on the first one and everything grew brighter.

 

Then, two and three were like I didn’t take them myself.

What was not visible before now sprawled out before me.

Up to step three and then everything.

 

By David P. Smith, MD

Mississippi Sudafed Law May Be Short-Sighted

The State of Mississippi passed a law in 2010 which banned sales of pseudoephedrine without a prescription. The law has resulted in a dramatic improvement in which 698 total methamphetamine (meth) incidents with 314 operational labs were identified in 2010 while there were 119 incidents with only 8 labs in 2013. Other states such as Tennessee are considering similar laws and Oregon already has a law in place as restrictive as the Mississippi law. In Tennessee, there has been a product tracking program which restricts sales, but has not resulted in a decline in the number of meth lab incidents. These statistics make it clear that banning sale of pseudoephedrine without a prescription has stopped a large number of the producers from operating within the state with precursors obtained in the state.

Along with the numbers of incidents and labs decreasing, usage has decreased. According to the Center for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, among Mississippi 9th through 12th grade students, usage dropped from 6.3% in 1999 to 3% in 2011. Usage of certain drugs is well known to follow trends and there was already a decline is usage occurring even prior to Mississippi’s law being enacted. Educational programs have attempted to teach youth about the dangers of meth usage and this has helped to have a positive effect along with the law changes. The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the number of homes with drugs where Mississippi children were present fell by 81 percent after the Mississippi law took effect.

This all looks great, however, the current improvements may only be temporary. Oregon has had a law similar to Mississippi’s since 2006 and then saw arrest rates related to methamphetamine increase by 36 % from 2009 to 2012. The Tupelo Daily Journal reported that there had been an increase in the number of meth arrests in 2013. While local meth labs have declined in Mississippi since 2010, in Alabama, they saw a decline in the rate of meth labs in 2011 and have only a tracking program in place. Therefore, the picture is not completely clear how effective the law will be in the long term.

Initial declines in meth incidents may result from product being initially unavailable until drug trafficking can bring it back into the state through other means. The primary supply (80%) of meth now comes from Mexico, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Mexican drug cartels are now replacing the small in-state producers. Coastal areas of Mississippi have had an increase in local production. In Hinds County, MS, nearly ten kilograms of meth was found during an arrest valued at $1.3 million; it originated in Mexico. It has taken time for these drug cartels to get their distribution linkage of small groups together so that they provide for the demand that will increase if the supply is here available and they would not be supplying it if it were not being used. The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics has had to shift its focus from the local small suppliers to having to track the drug cartels which are fewer in number, but have the potential to supply even more meth than what used to be available. While a home lab can produce a few ounces of meth, these Mexican “super labs” can produce a reported ten pounds of “ice” daily, according to a GAO report to Congress. Also, the homemade meth is only half as potent and dingy colored compared to the crystalline appearing ice which is said to look like rock candy.

With the passage of more time, it will be more clear if Mississippi’s law will continue to have the effect that was intended. While the users of meth now are getting greater access to more potent forms of the drug, Mississippi consumers are still frustrated with not being able to treat their colds without greater expense and inconvenience which results in lost productivity at home and in the workplace. Those leaders, such as State Senator Chris McDaniel (currently running for the seat held by Thad Cochran), who urged caution and voted against the more restrictive laws in Mississippi, already look much more intelligent than they used to appear to the more short-sighted among us.

KKK Monument Next to MLK’s ?

The Satanic Temple, a group represented by the ACLU, wants to place on the Statehouse lawn in Oklahoma City a bronze monument featuring Baphomet, a symbol of The Church of Satan. The Satanic Temple group doesn’t like it that, on the Oklahoma Statehouse lawn, there is a monument of the Ten Commandments so they want to put their monument right next to it. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin’s spokesman, Alex Weintz, told Fox News, “There will never be a satanic monument on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol and the suggestion that there might be is absurd.” As might be anticipated, the courts will have to weigh in on this matter along with all of the other attacks from the emboldened people of recent years who do not like hearing or seeing anything regarding God.

Lucien Graves, spokesman for the Satanic Temple, stated that they were “really coming along fast” and had raised $20,000 for this project. Baphomet has features including the head of a goat, two angelic wings, a raised right arm and left arm down symbolizing the Hierophant (as if to bless, with two fingers pointing skyward and two pointing down as if to form a bridge between Heaven and Earth), and hooves sticking out below its robe. Baphomet is thought to be a demon and was first named in writings dating back to 1098, but also which for several hundred years, at least, represents Satan.

The monument has a pentagram in the background and two smiling children in the foreground standing and looking up to Baphomet. Also visible on the figure of their monument is a caduceus in the place of phallus emerging from under the robe, which is right in front of the two standing children. The robed figure, however, has hidden other features of Baphomet which represent male and female, including female breasts; if that had been featured on this statue it would have been even more shocking. Even with this ghastly symbolism, this monument is designed to give the appearance of Baphomet being admired and revered by these children. Just as the deceiving robe allows for hiding some of the shocking features of this demon, the monument is deceptive also with the blatant usage of children. If The Satanic Temple wanted to be truthful about Satanists, they should have placed an altar in front of the demon to symbolize their ritualistic sexual abuse, torture, and murder of children as sacrifices.

The Oklahoma chapter of the ACLU has already filed suit against the state for placing the Ten Commandments monument and thinks there should be no monuments to anything religious on state property. Quoted on FoxNews.com, Brady Henderson, Oklahoma ACLU’s legal director, stated, “We don’t think the state should place religious artifacts on state property unless the people of the entire state agree with its message. One of the concerns is that even if you allow all faiths to place something in a public area, it quickly becomes a farce.” He pointed out that when Florida recently allowed for other religious expression near a manger scene, “What happened is that you had someone placing a festivus pole made out of beer cans and one group placing a pile of spaghetti on top of a chair. So these types of things do nothing to uplift people’s faiths and beliefs. There’s nothing served by belittling them.” What Mr. Henderson should consider is the federal holiday of Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ and it is not about anything else. Even considering allowing the side show like happened in Florida is ludicrous. Allowing a manger scene, which depicts what the Christmas holiday actually represents, to be shared by other unrelated displays makes no logical sense.

The Ten Commandments is a logical display to be on the lawn of Oklahoma Statehouse and other displays should not be allowed. This monument does not represent the establishment of a state religion any more than it does above the east entrance to the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.; Moses is sculpted there along with two tablets, inspired by the Ten Commandments. The Oklahoma Statehouse is displaying the truth about our laws being based upon Judeo-Christian concepts; no knowledgeable person can deny that fact.

Putting a monument depicting a demon next to the Ten Commandments is just another move by those who do not want to acknowledge God, or hate God. If their illogical approach to trying to get this monument placed succeeds, then the ACLU may want to also consider filing suit in Washington, D.C., regarding the monument of Martin Luther King, who was a Christian preacher. If a group wanted the right to have a monument extolling the Ku Klux Klan next the Martin Luther King statue, because they objected to King’s representing Christian faith, then they could use this same approach. Most would recognize such a blatant and disrespectful attempt for what it was and not for what it claimed to be. It should be the same for the Oklahoma Statehouse Ten Commandments monument. Of America’s fifty -five founders of the Constitution, fifty-two were members of established orthodox churches in the colonies. The chaplaincy of the U.S. Senate has been in place since 1789. There are Bible verses etched in stone on buildings and monuments all over our nation’s capital. It is truly a very significant part of our history; can the adherents of Satanism claim the same? I think not. Atheists and Satanists need to get over it – there was a very strong influence of the Ten Commandments upon our nation’s founding fathers, and the laws and institutions they founded, from the start and this display simply acknowledges that fact.

Return to the Asclepeia: A Physician’s Enduring Obligation to Patients

ImageThe straining loads being placed upon the backs of physicians are immense these days. We are being squeezed by hospital administrators, insurance companies, patients, and, for those in the shrinking numbers of private practitioners, add in all of those overhead costs that are onerous. It would be easy if we could just take care of the patient the way we were trained, and everyone else would help us to accomplish that worthy goal. However, the reality is that we have a multitude of non-health professionals, who believe they know what patients need, constantly not just suggesting to us what we should do, but outright now dictating how it should be done. I do not need to list the multitude of ways that this is occurring. All of us are very familiar with these stresses from the impossible task of pleasing everyone at once, although I think most of us do attempt to do so, especially for those of us who view ourselves as more than just “providers.”

There are huge financial pressures upon our hospitals right now, and physicians are being asked to be increasingly efficient to the point that the only person who could do it any better is God Himself. Governmental programs are notorious for one-size-fits-all approaches which do not allow for the individual variation in patient care that individuals who are all made a little differently should be allowed to have provided for them. Not everyone, especially the very elderly, can be discharged safely from a hospital at the prescribed number of days, assuming they even “qualify” for admission past observation.

We have to remember why we decided to practice medicine in the first place and do what is right for the patient whether others, who do not do what we do, understand or not. Of course, we should try to help administrators and bureaucrats to understand why another day is really needed before someone can go home, but in the end we have to do, and should only do, what we truly know is right for the patient. A good question to ask yourself might be what would you do if this patient were your parent, or maybe even better, what would you do for yourself?

In the waiting room of my clinic, I have hanging the framed copy of the Hippocratic Oath which was given to me by MBMC upon graduation from my family medicine residency at UMC. This oath calls us to a higher calling in the practice of our profession which cannot be allowed to transform us into cook-book technicians. Looking back in history around the time of Hippocrates, we also find another symbol that is commonly used today – the rod of Asclepius. Asclepius (or Asclepios) was the Greek god associated with healing and medicine. During that time, there were places which were called Asclepions which were built for people to visit who were ill. While at these temples, which were run by priests, patients could bathe, meditate, and were encouraged to get plenty of rest and sleep. While sleeping, it was thought that Asclepius and his two daughters, Hygeia and Panacea, would visit which would cure everything. The priest would dress as Asclepius while the Therapeutae entourage would make their rounds in the evenings to care for the patients.

For those who used the asclepeia, an offering, which for the poor was not much while for the rich a more generous contribution would be expected. It is interesting that many of the poor would bring a rooster, which was thought to ward off evil spirits, and sacrifice it to Asclepios hoping for a cure while in the temple. In the early days of medical practice in this country, it was widely practiced that those seeking treatment from a physician would bring a chicken for payment. Observing the way our country is heading presently, those days may not be completely in the past.

While we have greatly advanced modern hospitals, in many ways still though we can find similarities to those asclepeia of thousands of years ago. Let’s keep the modern advancements we have made, but let us also keep in mind the art of the practice of medicine which requires us to do what is right for the proper treatment of the patient first and put what is right for the finances further down on our list of priorities. If we do not do what is right for the patient first, we may find ourselves like Asclepius, who is said in mythology to have been killed by a thunderbolt from Zeus because Asclepius accepted gold for raising Hippolytus from the dead. If we get our eyes focused on the gold instead of on the patient’s best interests, everyone loses. None of us are gods, but patients do generally look to us to have a higher standard for how we lead our lives and practice our profession. Luke 14:11 reads, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” We have a responsibility to stand up for our patients first, and then all of the rest will fall into its proper place.

NY – Y’all come on down to MS

For those in our country who proudly declare themselves “pro-choice”, there are clear indications as to how truly “anti-life” they really are. When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently stated that “extreme” conservatives “have no place in the state of New York”, he revealed his own lack of tolerance for others while also displaying a lack of consideration of the value of each human being. It should not be surprising for him to say such a disrespectful and demeaning statement. It is the natural result of having an “anti-life” worldview in which not all humans are viewed as equally valuable and worthy of being protected.

Even New York City’s Mayor de Blasio chimed in stating, “I stand by that 100 percent,” to reporters at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Mayor de Blasio then added, “I agree with Governor Cuomo’s remarks. I interpret his remarks to say that an extremist attitude that continues the reality of violence in our communities or an extremist attitude that denies the rights of women does not represent the views of New York State.” The mayor must not have given much thought to his statement regarding “violence in our communities”; there is a lack of logic. What in the world does he think he is approving of happening in his position of violence toward unborn children? What about the right of the unborn children who never live to see the light of day? Has the “anti-life” position become such a protected issue that logic has been thrown out the window? There is no denying the fact that areas with the most “gun control” have the most gun violence; just look at Chicago. The same areas of the country that proclaim they are against violence promote it more by taking guns away from the law-abiding and then allowing a plague of ruthless thugs who also do not value life while robbing and killing others. The “anti-life” folks obviously cannot see the contradictions in their own statements.

For those New Yorkers who feel devalued and unappreciated just because they support the worth of everyone and care enough to speak the truth as they see it, come on down to Mississippi, the most conservative state in the union. Mississippians would be glad to have you just as much as anyone who has enough sense to respect the fact that everyone is valuable and has inherent worth solely because of the fact that they are human. Mississippi has learned from its own jaded past when people were not valued equally and now those with differing opinions generally get along well. Just think about where you hear about all of the racial problems and it isn’t in the state with the largest percentage of African Americans. Mississippians get along better now than at any time in the past because of learning respect for each other which is something lacking in New York’s elected leaders presently.

Not agreeing with someone should not cause one to have such a cowardly position to want to push them out of your way. If your arguments for your own position hold water, they can stand up on their own. People who start feeling threatened and honestly have no true way to defend their positions typically resort to personal attacks and attempts to gag the opposition such as these statements from the New York governor to deflect attention from the fact that they have no facts upon which to base their selfish and disrespectful opinions. If all of the pro-life people left New York to the anti-life people, it would certainly be a state that would slowly die – physically and spiritually. Hopefully, that will not happen if those liberals who usually are ones claiming such tolerance would learn to practice that which they preach.

Trade the Fog for Clearer Days Ahead

ImageWhen you look at a donut, do you see the donut, or the hole?  How about when you have before you the news in whatever form you read it, do you get an automatic frown on your face that you might not realize?  Your perspective is influenced by what you put into your mind and what becomes your perspective will certainly be expressed not only in your words, but also through your health.  “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he,” reads Proverbs 23:7.

In the days in which we are living that are full of challenges and threats of destruction in various ways, if we are not careful, we can focus too much on what we should avoid.  As with many things, finding the right balance is the key to a good life.  I have witnessed what too much of a focus on the news does to the mind and the body among those who are glued especially to watching certain news channels.  A state of anxiety of their mind develops and worsens while their health problems also deteriorate.  Those who have hypertension and diabetes most definitely experience worse control of their conditions due to the stress hormones that are released in greater quantities when we are stressed from whatever the source.  Why should one choose to place themselves in an environment of continual stress when that little button on the remote control can shut it down quickly? 

Having too much news about things that you cannot control anyway can make you pessimistic and sarcastic while leaving you depressed and passive.  Your creativity will be stifled if you get all of your thoughts from what someone else tells you to think while you do not do any thinking for yourself.  Think about your time wasted if you cannot seem to live except to check all the various devices that supply the latest information all the day long.  Do not believe the suggestion that if you have more information you could be economically better off because if that were true, you would expect journalists to be wealthy.  You can have in front of you everything you really need, but lose focus if you allow bad seeds to take root while not tending to the crop you really want.  “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22).  

Now, I am not saying that we should be ignorant of the times because we are supposed to be aware of our environment.  In Hosea 4:6, it says that “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”  Therefore, it is a balance that we should seek in which we are informed, but not to excess.  There is so much information available to almost everyone; we can easily get overloaded with it all.  Only God can handle knowing everything about everything and it is best left to Him to do that.  We will fail miserably and be humbled if we attempt to try to do so ourselves.  If you feel like your balance of information that you allow yourself to receive is overloading you, then cut it back and make the decision this new year ahead to keep your focus on the things that are important and in the proper balance.  What you allow to occur in your own home is no one’s fault but yours.  What you choose to focus on is what you will achieve and what you will become.

Support Phil Robertson

The decision of A&E Channel to indefinitely suspend Mr. Phil Robertson from the Duck Dynasty television program because of his Christian beliefs regarding homosexuality is one of the most intolerant actions that I can remember.  While liberals constantly demand tolerance for their deviant behavior, they routinely are intolerant of any dissent.  A&E certainly believes in freedom of speech, but only if it is the speech content with which they agree.  There is so much indecent and offensive garbage on television that it is downright appalling for this type of action to be taken simply for someone sharing what is Christian belief which is according to the Bible.  That is probably what the homosexual activists dislike the most – the fact that they cannot change what the Bible clearly states regarding their behavior.  Quoting scripture causes them more consternation than anything else because it is the truth.

Mr. Robertson’s views were stated in a GQ magazine article and news articles regarding his statements were widely circulated with it even headlining the Drudge Report on Wednesday morning.  When asked about what he finds sinful, Mr. Robertson is quoted as saying, “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there…Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”  Scripture was then paraphrased from 1 Corinthians 6, “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

Hardly any time passed before the thought police were on full alert and putting on their riot gear. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) issued a statement through their spokesman Wilson Cruz, “Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe.” What Mr. Cruz thinks Mr. Robertson lied about is not clear and true Christians believe the full Word of God which makes it abundantly clear that homosexual behavior is sinful. 

Just this week we are seeing news from North Dakota that it is not illegal for a man “married” to a man in another state to come there and then marry a woman also.  In Utah last week, a judge stated that laws against polygamy were not valid.  Therefore, it is not a stretch to say that bestiality is next.  Actually, bestiality is becoming more common as well.  It was only two years ago that Congress passed the Defense Authorization bill that removed military restrictions against homosexuality and bestiality at the same time. 

The flood gates have been opened to rampant problems when traditional marriage was first attacked and marriage is being redefined for whatever one wants it to be.  It was predicted a few years ago that we would also see polygamy start gaining a foothold legally when these floodgates were opened and there is more openly displayed rampant immorality to come.  There are groups planning on how to work through the courts to even get pedophilia legal.  What started as a slippery slope has turned into a jump off of the cliff and it is not a coincidence that this is all happening at the same time our country is facing the same situation in a multitude of ways.

Mr. Robertson has stated what most Americans with common sense do believe, but are reluctant to state publicly.  The “Support Phil Robertson” Facebook page had over 100,000 “likes” within only four hours of the page being made available.  That is certainly evidence of a strong showing of support for the stance that Mr. Robertson is taking and also against the hypocrisy and intolerance of A&E.  More Christian Americans need to be the salt and light of Matthew 5 as Mr. Robertson is being.