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I wish I could spend time with every member of Congress in order to determine whether he or she is as unyielding, petty and starkly divided along party lines as the House and Senate collectively appear. My gut instinct is no because it seems unlikely that the group of people we elect to govern would so often neglect rational conversation in order to openly denounce those with opposing viewpoints. But I may be wrong. Controversy sells, and ridiculous statements or proposals may help previously unknown lawmakers vault into the public eye. How else could you explain the snafu that has just arisen surrounding talks of nuclear disarmament between the United States and Iran?
This article, I know, may be outdated by now. But I recently saw in the news that Alex Rodriguez had hired Barry Bonds to become his personal hitting coach as he rejoins the New York Yankees. The irony of this partnership did not escape me. Rodriguez, who had to sit out last season as a result of his extensive history of performance enhancing drug (PED) use, is partnering with Bonds, the unofficial face of baseball’s PED era, to help him make a clean return to the game. This news also gave me a convenient reason to revisit the baseball Hall of Fame elections that occurred a few weeks ago.
Today you can’t watch the news on television or visit a news outlet’s website without reading something fresh on the Ebola virus and the danger it poses to the American population. Indeed, if someone only recently decided to tune in to the news, he would be under the impression that Ebola was an epidemic running rampant across the nation. Googling Ebola yields words like “fear,” “crisis,” “anxiety,” “panic” and “outbreak” abundantly in the headlines. I understand that views make ad revenue, but it’s time to cease the fear mongering.
In most instances, the word suicide is an unpleasant one. There is something about suicide that strikes directly at people’s basest urges. The act of taking one’s own life is so counterintuitive to most of us — so powerful is our survival instinct — that suicide almost inherently brings with it the idea that there must have been some way to convince the victims not to go through with it. Help on that front is certainly possible. Mental health services, grief counseling and other preventative measures can all aid those who are suicidal. Yet there is another face to suicide, one that does not occur to most people. In certain places in the U.S., terminally ill, mentally-lucid patients may petition a doctor to help them facilitate their own deaths if they have within a certain time left to live. Here, the goal is not just the patient ending his life; it is to prevent suffering that may accompany a death that is rapidly encroaching.
If you go looking for arguments about climate change, you will typically find the same points made over and over again from both sides. Overall, the debate is somewhat unexciting, as is often the case when people choose to disagree with the scientific community. It is the overwhelming consensus of climate scientists that climate change is a reality. And, even if one is wary of scientific studies, nature appears to be indicating that warming is occurring: Plant and animal species are extending their territories further north, coral reefs are becoming bleached by rising ocean temperatures and certain plants are blooming earlier than normal. Despite all of this tangible evidence, climate change remains as controversial a topic as ever.
The separation of church and state was one of the most ingenious inclusions in the Bill of Rights (it was a relatively novel idea at the time). So, why, over 200 years after the ratification of the First Amendment, does our government still sometimes err in keeping its affairs distinct from religious ones? One would think that ample time has passed to eliminate the overlaps between church and state. Nevertheless, a common overlap was exhibited this past weekend. President Obama designated three National Days of Prayer and Remembrance to honor the victims of Sept. 11, 2001. Obama’s proclamation encouraged Americans to remember 9/11 through “prayer, contemplation, memorial services, the visiting of memorials, the ringing of bells, evening candlelight remembrance vigils, and other appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
This is somewhere around the 100th opinion column I have written, though it is my first for The News-Letter. And, in moving from one paper (The University of Virginia’s The Cavalier Daily) to another, I have been thinking about the importance of independent student journalism for a well-functioning student body. This sentiment, I hope, is a timely one, as new students are becoming acclimated to Hopkins. With any luck, they will also come to appreciate the benefits created by a college newspaper.