Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

September 1, 2013

ED VASICEK: A dose of positive news

City to start on parking garage in weeks

Kokomo Tribune

---- — News usually high-lights problems, crimes and disasters. And there are plenty to go around. Recently, for example, I read about an accidental gas-grill explosion that took the life of a volunteer in a Noblesville church. The lead pastor is a former floor mate of mine from my Moody Bible Institute days, so the accident was a bit close to home.

That same evening, Marylu and I had been invited to dine with some close friends. During the meal, the phone rang; their niece (who is the mother of a young child) had been in a car accident and it was uncertain whether she would survive. Bad news is not an endangered species.

Certainly folks at the core of tragedy have no interest in hearing good news. But the rest of us can become weary of the endless barrage of tragedy and disappointment. We need a dose of positive news.

So let’s go! I begin locally. The Kokomo Tribune covered the story about some fantastic changes that will further transform our downtown area:

“On the north side of Union Street, neighbors will be living five stories up, in apartments grouped atop a new downtown parking garage. On the other side of Union, a new downtown YMCA building will stand, carrying the torch passed from the 101-year-old former building to the north ...

“The news Monday, unveiled along with three-dimensional renderings, is that the greater part of that funding is in place. Groundbreaking will start in the next couple of weeks on a mixed-use parking garage/apartment development, and the Y construction will follow once the garage is complete.”

The pace of Kokomo’s development has been astronomical in recent years, yet the pace is escalating! Someone pressed the “fast forward” button when it comes to Kokomo’s transformation! There’s good news you can see!

Nationally and internationally, something positive is around the corner for diabetics. Bloomberg Business Week informs us that “... The long promise of insulin that diabetics can inhale appears to be moving closer to the market. An inhalable insulin powder called Afrezza showed positive results for controlling diabetes in a late-stage clinical trial, the drug’s maker, MannKind (MNKD), reported today.”

Previous attempts to make a powder flopped because the medicine was too expensive, insurance companies did not want to pay for it, and did not work in many instances. In contrast, “MannKind has been trading testing data with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since March 2009 in hopes of getting approval for Afrezza, which it says is more effective than the prior drugs and could cost about the same as the current injectable insulin ‘pens’ — about $2,000 annually.”

Most of us have friends and relatives that are diabetic, a disease you don’t want to have. Losing extremities or eyesight due to circulation issues, heart problems, kidney problems and a host of other ailments can be produced by blood sugar issues. Breakthroughs in diabetes can affect many of the nearly 26 million Americans (including children) who suffer from it.

Human pride is an obstacle that can seem impossible to overcome. Sometimes — especially when pride is ingrained in a culture — the best strategy may be to work around it. Halfway around the world in Japan, a benevolent man has figured how to help folks who refuse help due to pride. According to the Good News Network, “A 27-year-old Japanese shop-assistant dons a superhero disguise in his spare time in order to help strangers maneuvering the dimly lit stairs of a Tokyo subway station which has no escalators or lifts.

“For three months, Tadahiro Kanemasu has used his green suit, with silver trim, to protect his identity as he helps the elderly and people lugging heavy bags or strollers.

“‘Japanese people find it hard to offer or accept help because they feel indebted to the person,’ he explained. He’s looking for more volunteers to take shifts helping folks get up and down the lengthy stairway.”

I take my hat off to Tadahiro and to all who bring help and cheer to others. May your week be filled with one blessing after another!

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