The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 3, 1997 · Page 12
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 12

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Salina, Kansas
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Saturday, May 3, 1997
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B2 SATURDAY, MAY 3, 1997 THE SALINA JOURNAL^ George B. Pyle editorial page editor Opinions expressed on this page are those of the identified writers. To join the conversation, write a letter to the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Salina, KS 67402 Fax: (913) 827-6363 E-mail: SJLetters® saljournal.com Quote of the day "I wish that we could have this event in the Lincoln bedroom, but we did not tiave enough coffee in the White House." Bill Clinton at a Democratic National Committee gala fund-raiser. OPINION By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal Power to the people THE ISSUE Self-appointed government THE ARGUMENT Tliese kooks are attacking you D oes anybody remember voting for Mark Kline Drake? More important, does anybody remember having the chance to vote against him? Those questions don't seem to matter much to Drake, a previously unknown man from the little Kansas town of Rock. He felt sufficiently empowered by, well, himself, to order Gov. Bill Graves to vacate his office and to take the speaker of the House, the president of the Senate and a handful of other lawmakers with him. That might upset the governor, and the 526,000 people who voted for him, if any of us were taking this seriously. But we may have to start taking this kind of lunacy seriously in the future, if only because there seems to be more of it. Like the tax-avoiding "Freemen" who are supposedly active in Kansas, like the members of the self-styled Republic of Texas who have circled the wagons in the Lone Star State, Drake's "Supreme Court of Christian Jurisdiction in American Government" is one of those groups that has taken it upon itself to rule the rest of us. The rest of us, silly people, were under the impression that the officials we voted into office and the officers those officials appointed, confirmed and hired were our government. Isn't that how democracy works? Apparently not. At least, not to followers of Courts of Christian Jurisdiction or Texas independence movements. Such people feel aggrieved by some act of government. Their beef may be legitimate. Their solution is clearly not. Those who claim such power often do so in the name of American patriotism. But, by simply naming themselves the government, as if they pulled a sword from a stone, they are less like George Washington than George III. It's not that our government doesn't foul up on a biblical scale from time to time, leaving people broke, destroyed, even dead in its wake. It is just that no one of us, or no one of us and his drinking buddies, is empowered to step in and take over when, in their personal opinions, something needs to be changed. If they are, then the government we would all have would be the one that moved the fastest with the most guns. If you aren't one of them, you are just out of luck. The will of the people, all the people, , wouldn't even be considered. OK, so the will of the people isn't all that important now. But at least the current system gives us a small but crucial part in deciding who will rule. It's called an election, and nearly every adult is invited to participate, even if they choose not to. People who would set their own opinions, needs and values over the results of those elections do not just attack some faceless bureaucracy. They attack you, and your vote. Right now, we shouldn't take this assault on our authority too seriously. But we should take it personally. LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL SJLetters@saljournal.com Municipal band has a long heritage The heritage of American concert music is kept alive and well by the Salina Municipal Band. Although the sounds have changed from the time of a brass band through Patrick Gillmore, John Philip Sousa and countless others, the sounds and instrumentation have evolved for more than a century. The first organized band in Salina that was mentioned in the Saline County Journal dated May 25, 1871, was the Salina Brass Band. Unfortunately, too much time has passed and much of the early history of that period has practically passed into obscurity. The early settlers of Saline County, many of whom were Civil War veterans, brought various musical instruments with them to help in easing the loneliness of the plains as well as remembering a more cultured way of life east of Kansas City or St. Louis. It is interesting to look through old newspaper clippings, books and other records of decades long ago and see pictures of men of all ages with full mustaches which parted over the brass mouthpiece! Salina has a long and impressive history of supporting various musical organizations. The numerous predecessors of the Salina Journal were supportive of P.O. Box 740, Salina, KS 67402 the many bands in Salina. In 1919 there were six organized bands, which did not include the parochial or public school systems. Even though it has a rich history and many stories to tell, the Salina Municipal Band does not rest on its laurels of years gone by. The Salina Municipal Band offers the opportunity for people of all ages to continue playing and performing long after they have graduated from school. Each concert given by the band is special. It gives the community an opportunity to hear performers, develop a better appreciation for a variety of musical compositions such as marches, overtures, selections from operas, as well as popular music of the times. The first practice of the season is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday, on the third floor of Memorial Hall. Anyone interested in joining the band is asked to write or call The Salina Municipal Band P. O. Box 227 Salina, KS 67402-0227, 8239036. Another exciting season of concerts is being scheduled. Come and be a part of that wonderful experience in Salina this summer. --- JAMES J. BROWN Salina • James J. Brown is general manager of the Salina Municipal Band. T BY THE BAY Breaking the 'rules' of motherhood Nobody has anything unkind to say about a 63-year-old father "And the Lord said to Abraham, Why did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I who am an old woman bear a child indeed? Is anything too hard for the Lord?" — Genesis 18:13-14 W hy do I think there would be few complaints if a 63-year-old man got some help from his urologist and fathered a healthy baby? Why do I think no one would use the term "immoral" about a sixtysomething gent who finally got his lifelong wish to be a father? Why can't I imagine spirited talk-show discussions about how irresponsible it is for an old man to be raising a teen-ager? Because I know a double standard when I see one. And a double standard is fueling most of the fevered back-and-forth about Arceli Keh, the now-no- ^ torious woman who became a mother, three months shy of her 64th birthday. Older men choose to become fathers all the time, and Western culture does not deem their act "an ethical dilemma." Quite the contrary. Whether it is Hugh Hefner, William O. Douglas, Strom Thurmond or the thrice-married AARP member next-door, older men who become fathers are rewarded T POINT OF VIEW STEPHANIE SALTER San Francisco Examiner with an admiring, "Atta boy." Yet, the childless Keh has to lie about her age to get into a fertility program. She passes all physical tests with flying colors, carries a donated, fertilized egg to term and — at the age of 63 years and nine months — delivers a fine, healthy girl. Suddenly, a nation has an ethical dilemma on its hands. Much of the adult population engages in runaway what-iffing. They look into the murky future and see a highly unlikely scenario: an epidemic of older mothers. All kinds, especially poor ones. Worse, with the kind of vitriol that should be reserved for convicted swindlers, commen- tarians presume and pronounce the woman guilty of everything from lousy future parenting skills — "How can a 78-year-old cope with a teenager?" — to fiscal irresponsibility — "Who's going to support this child if the woman dies?" Never mind that we really are in deep moral doo-doo if this money-worshipping society of ours ever predicates the right to give birth on an "appropriate" annual income. Never mind that Keh and her husband of 16 years had means enough to pay for $50,000 worth of in vitro fertilization. Never mind that no one has had a peek at their retirement package. Never mind that nobody copes easily with a teen-ager. This controversy isn't about money, parenting or morality nearly as much as it's about sexism. The New York Times quoted two learned men who were disturbed by Keh's pregnancy: an ethicist and a "professor of social thought." One was concerned that Keh and her baby demonstrate that "people are finding the natural boundaries of life unacceptable." The other offered the argument that, "We have some responsibility to the symmetry of life and to some of the rules of nature." Some of the rules of nature? Which ones? How about the ones that govern cardiO- pulmonary resuscitation or allow us to keep people alive via feeding tubes and breathing machines? How about the rules that allow a man to achieve an erection with a penile implant or injection therapy? Those that have millions of Western women on estrogen replacement ther- • I apy? The rules that allow infertile young-or 1 ] middle-age couples to use anything medical'- 1 science can offer in order to conceive? As for the concern about people "finding-the., natural boundaries of life unacceptable? "^i$ well, gee, welcome to humanity. '-'>v)l People have al-ways found the natural boundaries of life unacceptable. You think-all' those searches for the Fountain of Youth were just an excuse to get out of the house? Besides, the facts of Arceli Keh's pregancy don't seem to support some pathetic, imifiar ture refusal to grow old. . ',' One of Keh's obstetricians said she held his hand after delivery, cried and thanked him. As a doctor who is dedicated to giving and pre?, serving life, he said "that made me feel pretty good." '.',;,' Me, too. God bless that "old" woman for her lie. God bless her for her unquenchable maternal fire; God bless her for refusing to act her age. "• In other words: Atta girl! •".;•'' Why become a mother at 60-plus? Modern technology upsets the equilibrium that civilizations calibrate in order to survive R ather than relieving the plight of so many unwanted, abused and abandoned children already in the world, some women old enough to be grandmothers have turned to medical technology to satisfy their maternal yearnings. In California late last year, a 63-year-old woman gave birth by Caesarean section to a healthy baby girl, conceived from a donated egg that had been fertilized by the sperm of the woman's 57-year-old husband. At last report, mother and child were doing just fine. Never mind the moral implications of shopping in the ex- 3> tramarital supermarket of eggs and sperm — a quaint, irrelevant anachronism in an age when the biologically or mechanically possible justifies the unyielding pursuit of satisfying yet another imperative of human desire. Never mind, either, that the unidentified woman lied about her age to the reproductive center, which limited its services to clients 55 or younger. White lies in the service of higher causes are nothing new. This reasoning, though, raises the question of the range of heights among causes. The medical centers also have higher causes than simply making money from paying customers, including concerns about the health of the woman bearing the child, potential threats to the developing fetus, and the considerable TOMMY DENTON Fort Worth Star-Telegram physical and emotional difficulties inherent in child-rearing. Any parent who has survived the passage of children into adolescence knows well the strain imposed by offspring even on otherwise vigorous young adults. Infants, properly cared for, require almost constant attention in the early months — and produce a desperate longing for the faintly remembered luxury of sufficient sleep. Young children are nature's equivalent of nuclear breeder reactors: They never seem to run out of energy. Teen-agers push the generating factor toward the red line, combining high-voltage physical stamina (except in the performance of household chores) with maddening, hormone-induced surges of anxiety, confused outrage, rebellious petulance and morbid sulking, all in random, unpredictable alternating currents. Dr. Zev Rosenwaks, director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center in New York, does not accept a patient older than 46 or 47. As Rosenwaks told The New York Times, "I believe it's not that easy for someone in their 50s to bring up a baby." Talk about understatement. The woman who gave birth at 63 will be pushing 70 when her daughter enters the first grade. When the time comes for making the final fitting on her prom dress, the mother will be nearing 80. Many youngsters — too many — have been reared by grandparents for a variety of reasons, but usually out of necessity rather than choice. The physical and emotional burden on the elderly who take up again the responsibilities of parenthood are enormous. Bringing up children once is difficult enough, but bringing up the children of children at an advanced age raises the likelihood that they, wearied in body and soul, will be unable to provide the;, abundance of supervision, guidance and jcn^ turing so critical to a well-adjusted, secure child. "•''-'""-. The fact that some women beyond natural" child-bearing age now consider birthing a right not to be denied them raises fundamental questions about the relationships between human beings, their technologies and the WQp^. drous mysteries of the natural order. The implications transcend the vagaries of biological procreation. >• " Civilizations endure because they success-,, fully calibrate the equilibrium between individuals, nuclear social units and the larger community seeking to coexist in harmqny, with the world in which they all live. Through their values and mores, they seek to reconcile the tensions between selfish individual aspira-i tions and the well-being of current and future' generations. A few sexagenarian would-be mothers, frustrated that their own biological clock has wound down, may now turn to technology to help them fulfill what for them must be a deep, primal desire. These progeny, presumably, will be wanted, which is more than can be said * for the unfortunates born of ignorance, irre-« sponsibility, carelessness or violence. ;'*'•' ; Even so, a soul-searching inquiry of why< they are wanted — whether from a selfless assumption of responsibility for ushering a unique human being into the stream of life or from an egoistic embrace of delayed self-actualization — should stir the conscience of any- 1 one considering this technological compens,a-: tion for the limits of nature's design. By G.B. TRUDEAU U&L.UKe, MiATIF TWO VBO& AGO, IP PR/MSN THROUGH s&srne »&mp OF ASHEN? RICf TO THROMMM? WITH "WHAT!?$• MAKRiePJDA -KnAL

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