Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

February 2, 2014

ED VASICEK: Like many chemicals, some news just does not mix well.

A few comments on stories from 'off the beaten path.'


Kokomo Tribune

---- — When I was a lad, my mother had decided to wash the kitchen floor with a combination of bleach and ammonia. She almost fainted. You don’t do that — together these cleaners form a dangerous gas.

Today I have comments on a few “off the beaten path” news items that really cannot be mixed together. Think of them as bottled separately, but on the same shelf.

Let me begin with an encouraging word to our senior citizens. Many Americans are not only living longer, but are experiencing better health. For example, I have a friend who is 97 and mows his own lawn. Of course, that’s nothing compared to an elderly man in Canada.

According to the Canadian CBC, “A 104-year-old Winnipeg man swam his way into the record books, finishing two races and becoming the world’s oldest masters swimmer.

“Pan Am Pool was packed with family members, friends and swimming fans who cheered on Jaring Timmerman as he completed the 50-meter backstroke and 50-meter freestyle races at a masters swimming meet Friday night.

“Simply by finishing, Timmerman — who turns 105 in February — has established two world records and created a new competition category for swimmers aged 105 to 109.”

To those of you whining about our winter, take note. The Canadian gusts are good for you!

Then there is the Ukraine. For years, coerced into the Soviet Union, victims of Stalin’s attempts at genocide, the Ukrainian people have experienced great tribulations. Since they became recognized as a distinct nation after the collapse of the Soviet Union, they have been led by one corrupt government after another. The turmoil in the Ukraine is making the news, but what is actually happening in the Ukraine? Robert van Voren, a Sovietologist teaching at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, shares his perspective:

“Western media reports on the events, but many focus on ... radicals ... who are against everything that smells of peace and tranquility ... The fact is, that the overwhelming majority of the demonstrators are young educated people who have taken on their identity as Ukrainian and are proud of it. It is a country they love, they believe in, and they are willing to defend. As one local put it: most of the demonstrators have two degrees and speak English fluently.

“One evening, after a truce was called, live streams offered a unique view of the square behind the battlefield, where hundreds of citizens moved at high speed and in organized lines to the front, carrying sacks with ice used to build barricades. From a distance they looked like ants, diligently building their defenses, a labyrinth resembling the front in Northern France during the First World War ...”

Let us hope the Ukrainians will one day experience a non-oppressive, non-Putin aligned government where rights are respected and corruption is considered unacceptable.

Back home, in America, it doesn’t pay to have cash. If you own a house but have no money invested, you can get grants, scholarships and all sorts of government aid. If you bank money for a house but choose to rent, you cannot get any of those things. It is not just the U.S. that penalizes those with cash. Take this story from Essen, Germany, from the UPI:

“A German lottery winner says she tore up more than $500,000 in winnings and flushed it down the toilet to avoid paying nursing home bills for her late husband. The Mirror newspaper of Britain said Angela Maier of Essen, Germany, told a court she received a steep bill from the home that cared for her husband prior to his death shortly after she received her lottery winnings.”

Why didn’t this gal pay the bill and save her government some Euros? Although we are all frustrated with government bureaucracy, waste and sometimes misguided approaches, most of what federal and local governments do is done right. As I look over the snow-laden landscape in front of my house, I see a street well-plowed — and quickly plowed. The trash collection works like clockwork. We need to remember that our society is a “we” proposition, not a “they” one. A nation — especially a free one — is a complicated co-op.

Ed Vasicek is pastor of Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at edvasicek@gmail.com.