ERROL CASTENS: Distinguishing among meanings

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

Random thoughts as the sun goes up and down: • Well before 7 a.m. Wednesday, when Ole Miss fans were all abuzz about the Rebels’ impending best National Signing Day ever, Dean of Students Sparky Reardon posted a gentle elbow in the ribs of his constituents: “For all the students on Facebook at this time of day, I never want to hear you complain about 8 a.m. classes. That is all.”
• Some retirement-aged folks are getting upset at the idea that Social Security, into which they paid their whole working lives, is now considered an entitlement program, equating it with “welfare.”
The problem is not the word “entitlement,” which simply means something one is owed – which, for people who have paid payroll taxes their whole adult lives, would seem to apply to Social Security. The problem is that we are no longer able to distinguish the differences between paying those to whom something is owed, helping those who cannot help themselves and continuing to foster dysfunction and despair among those who need leading more than feeding.
• Apparently being 21 years of age, putting one’s name on a public registry and having to wait up to two weeks to exercise one’s constitutionally explicit right are just the beginning of “common sense limitations” on buying a firearm, but parental permission and a 24-hour waiting period somehow constitute an intolerable shredding of rights for a 15-year-old whose adult boyfriend wants her to have an abortion.
• On a related note, WGN-TV viewers were moved by the story of a mare saved a few years back by a Chicago-area horse rescue group from what was purported as a short future at the slaughterhouse. Turned out that the mare was with foal, so two horses were rescued in one act. Someone recognized the stud’s bloodlines and next week the foal, now age 3, will run its first official race.
Amazing how easily we are charmed by the story of a surprise baby horse and its potential and miss the wonder in surprise babies and theirs.
• Even if a librarian has to show you how to get on the Internet, please visit www.waterislife.com and watch their video of Third World people reading First World problems. The site raises funds to provide safe water in poor countries.
This dead-serious spoof of our self-consumedness is convicting. Among others, one Haitian child sitting on a pile of rocks by a windowless house mouths the all-too-American complaint, “I hate when my leather seats aren’t heated” or another child, who may not be used to three meals a day, saying, “I hate it when I say no pickles, and they still give me pickles.”
Bet it makes you admit, as it did me, that sometimes we are so ungrateful.
Contact Daily Journal Oxford reporter Errol Castens at errol.castens@journalinc.com.