Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

February 10, 2013

VASICEK: Both inspiring, irritating news with Ed and Elmer

Our leaders are imitating their whining followers.

By Ed Vasicek
Tribune columnist

— With Valentine’s Day coming up, I headed out to buy my wife a card. Whom did I meet in the checkout line? Elmer.

“Hey, Ed, I see you are getting a Valentine’s Day card for the Mrs. At least you’re not wasting money on a gift,” Elmer opined.

“No, I already have that,” I explained.

“You know, Ed, those greeting cards are such a ripoff. All them holidays — except for Christmas and birthdays — are a ripoff. When I was married, I didn’t mess with Valentine’s Day, and I didn’t think much about anniversaries, either,” Elmer continued. “And as for Mother’s Day, she wasn’t my mother.”

I wondered if it would ever dawn on him that his way of thinking contributed to his divorce. If something wasn’t important to Elmer, he didn’t believe it was important to anybody. I decided to change the subject.

“Some mighty strange news out there, Elmer,” I offered. “Take this article I have from NBC News. It’s about a good kind of peer pressure.”

“‘Three students from Montgomery County, Pa., accomplished something extremely rare — they all scored a perfect score of 2400 on their SAT. And what’s even more rare is that all three students are classmates at the same school. The Upper Dublin High School juniors dedicated years, studying for this one test.’”

“Wow,” commented Elmer. “Never head tell of something like that. Why, when I were in school, we tried to get by with as little as we could. But I think I can one-up you, Ed, when it comes to different kind of news. This one’s from the Good News Network:

“‘A quadruple-amputee GI from Staten Island proudly showed off his two newly transplanted arms yesterday by using them to push his wheelchair into a press conference — then vowed to drive a car again.

“‘“The arms feel great!” said beaming Iraq War vet Brendan Marrocco, as he displayed his new limbs at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he underwent the extraordinary double transplant Dec. 18.

“‘The 26-year-old U.S. soldier who lost all four limbs in a 2009 roadside bomb attack is now celebrated as the Baltimore hospital’s first bilateral arm transplant patient. The innovative treatment, which entails an infusion of the deceased donor’s bone marrow cells, was designed to prevent rejection of the new limbs.’”

“I can’t believe that,” I marveled, “The whole medical thing seems to be leaping forward. I never heard of transplanting limbs before.”

“It’s even better than that,” Elmer replied. “The article says that because the transplanted marrow cells work so well, this guy doesn’t even need anti-rejection drugs. Maybe they’ll be able to do something like that soon for kidney and liver transplants?”

“Not to change subjects,” I added, “but did you hear about the U.S. government trying to sue Standard and Poor’s? I think it is a case of intimidation. I got this article from the BBC.”

“‘Standard & Poor’s says it is to be sued by the US government over the credit ratings agency’s assessment of mortgage bonds before the financial crisis.

“‘The civil lawsuit would focus on S&P’s high ratings in 2007 for some mortgage-backed securities that later collapsed in value, said the agency.

“‘S&P says the case is entirely without factual or legal merit.

“‘The suit would be the first such case over alleged wrongdoing by a ratings agency tied to the financial crisis.’”

“Sounds like the government is following the trend. Too many crybabies out there,” Elmer opined.

“Yep,” I nodded. “You know, the government spends money like many Americans, living in debt. Many Americans whine to the government and demand their entitlements, and now the government is whining elsewhere. Something is wrong with this picture when leaders imitate followers.”

“Them bureaucrats are all crooks anyhow,” Elmer complained. Elmer’s cynicism gets on my nerves.

“Elmer, we can discuss this at home over a cup of coffee.”

“No thanks, I need to be off,” Elmer explained. Of course I knew that coffee to Elmer was like a cross to a vampire. Nothing like a clean conversation terminator!

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

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