A positive challenge for Selmians

Published 10:30pm Saturday, September 24, 2011

Pogo comic strip author Walt Kelly coined one of the most popular and repeated pop culture quotes of this generation when his title character said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

The phrase, which is a parody of a message used by a Navy Commodore in the 1800s, was used in Kelly’s strip on Earth Day in 1971 to focus attention on an anti-litter campaign, but it has since been used to illustrate internal battles and how they affect the human condition.

If you apply Kelly’s quote to what is happening in our community, you don’t have to look far to see examples of its meaning. The most difficult challenges we face as a community are of our own doing. We’re quick to place blame on someone else or some “system” that doesn’t give us a fair shake. “I can’t do this because [fill in the blank]” is the cop out for a generation of people who are spoiled and lazy and are too accustomed to having their problems solved for them.

That apathetic mindset runs wild in our businesses, our civic clubs, and even our churches. I’ve heard the phrase “Well that’s just Selma…” more times than I care to stomach, as a way to excuse why something positive can’t happen here. Who’s to blame? We are, and that includes me at times.

Recently I was at a Rotary Club meeting where the speaker was District Court Judge Bob Armstrong. Bob spoke at length about how the court system has initiated programs to curb youth violence and improve self-esteem and shared the success rates the programs have had. But it was the last five minutes of his program that really caught my attention.

Bob asked for help; actually he issued a challenge. He challenged each of us to never say anything bad about Selma again. Bob may not be a Pogo fan, but he understands the concept Kelly conveyed through one simple phrase 40 years ago.

I’ve since passed along Armstrong’s challenge to others and have tried to live it myself. I’ll admit it’s difficult, especially when anonymous authors; bloggers who post vile untruths under pseudonyms and radio talk shows perpetuate hate and lies to serve their own agendas.

These people don’t want positive things to happen here. They thrive off discontent and they want to drag everyone around them into their cesspool of apathy so they’ll feel better about themselves.

In the Bible the Apostle Paul writes in 2 Timothy “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. [2 Timothy 4: 3-4]”

Paul’s letter to Timothy illustrates how this type of behavior has been around since the days of Christ. The question you need to answer for yourself is whether you are going to allow these “teachers” to continue to negatively impact your life. I’m not gullible enough to think never saying anything bad about Selma again will magically fix all our problems, but it’s a good place to start.

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  • D-man

    good article.

    leadership is realising the strengths and weaknesses of many different personalities, filtering the good and the bad, promoting the good and demoting the bad… but never being apathethic or ignoring the facts…

    being apathetic allows the weeds to overtake the garden, and ignoring the facts breeds ignorance and poor leadership. not understanding that we are all made differently and have different funtions to promote a positive community a step away from not being able to see the bigger picture.

    a day has come when propaganda disputes the scriptures you mention and propaganda is a very persuading voice that gets in people’s heads and makes them believe what they belive… and propaganda is promoting that it’s okay to have whatever religion you have, but don’t push yours on me… but the real trouble we get into is when “groups” use religion for self gain or politics, and/or manipulation of people’s emotions for positive gains such as money, positions of power and/or sexual favors…

    that is really what the commandment means when it says “do not use God’s name in vain”… God wasn’t speaking about cussing… he was speaking about using God for personal gains and the like…

    Some people see Christians as weak, but the better Christians are not luke warm as it speaks of in revelation… but even the apostles were imperfect as we all are, but they never were quiet… they spoke of controversial things pertaining to the churches and the people… Jesus himself even overturning the tables in the church where the people were selling and profiting at God’s house…

    • popdukes12

      If organized religion didn’t divide people, why would Selma require 65 churches? Remember John F. Kennedy thinking he couldn’t be elected because he was a Catholic. Some Republicans are concerned about Romney being a mormon. Every time we’re screened at the airport, it is because of our fear of radical Muslins. Don’t forget the Crusades, and the Holocaust. Local churches are very political and to think they are not is being nieve. pops

      • D-man

        there are around 100 churches within the city limits… explain what you mean pop by requiring 65 churches?

        As far as Romney being a mormon i just don’t understand how people could follow a religion started by a guy who prophecied over chicken bones in a hat and made decisions based on what they told him.. I have a theory about intelligent people following religions as such… they’re in it for something else..

        the problem with all religions as well as non-religions is that there are bad people everywhere… it’s very “religious” and christianlike to say that and it’s biblical… scandles and corruption only verify what they bible has always said… absolute power corrupts absolutely, at least it does for some who get in power… man made laws that contridict the bible always gets people in trouble… the bible clearly states that men should marry to keep from being consumed by their lusts yet the catholic church does not allow their priests to get married… hence… molestation of little boys…. not very smart… or bibilical… also a great place to get a job if you’re tired of family asking you why you aren’t dating anyone… capeesh?

      • D-man

        Selma is a great place to live… it could be much greater with people working together and not dividing it for self/personal/political gain…

        an intelligent councilman/women looks at every issue individually and does not vote against something just because someone they hate is in favor for it.. they look at the issue and determines whether it is in the best interests for the city and the people here.. that it is a positive thing… selfish people vote against such things and vote for selfish self serving things…

        and in the end.. vote your heart whether you or far or against something and move on…

        as far as politics in the church, it’s been the case since Christ and even thousands of years before His birth… it will increase before the end… and cults will rise before the end, now that’s also biblical…

        there weren’t any muslims, jehovah witnesses or mormans meeting when the constitution was drawn up… but there was prayer during every meeting… we often forget the story of the tower of babel… when everyone worked together they were doing great things, however they were very arrogant… when their lanquage/culture was changed everyone was confused and they had to quit… they imploded from within…

        people working together, not continuing to divide… a nation divided cannot stand… the tower of babel… remember that story….? it’s past time to bring everyone back together… to heal and get on the same page…

    • popdukes12

      I was referring to Martin Luther’s split from the Catholic Church and then there was Calvinism which was yet another split. You’ve got the old testament, the new testament, the living bible, the Koran, Jimmy Swaggart’s bible, and the list goes on. Never mess with a man’s religion, money, or woman, and not necessarily in that order. pops

      • D-man

        it’s so important to be politically correct now-a-days… so add to your list “…. or man, and not necessarily in that order”

  • Renigade

    Dennis,an excellent article but just remember the old saying “The truth will set you free” applies. I can remember five years ago when I ran for public office a Selma attorney told me people in Selma and Dallas County didn’t like the comments I was making about my opponent. My retort was the comments were all true and he agreed but said people in Selma didn’t like to here the truth. I knew then it was time to depart Selma because with that mindset there was no chance for progress. The problem in Selma is much larger than anonymous authors, bloggers or talk show host. Selma is ruled by control. The “Black Elite” control the uneducated “Black Majority” and “White Fear” controls the “White Minority” and “True Leadership” is lacking on both sides. It is very interesting watching from outside of the bubble and so very predictable. Under the current situation, the future of Selma and Dallas County is established and the people still don’t want to hear the truth. I will continue to watch with interest and would remind Judge Armstrong thinking positive doesn’t bring about change. Only action by “Strong Leadership” will bring change. I will continue to watch with hope and prayer.TPR

  • popdukes12

    Demogodery abounds in Selma. I don’t believe it was necessary to elude to biblical quotations to justify your position (like Lincoln used slavery for the moral justification of the civil war).
    I heard Tim go on the local Z-105.3 and give his redition of “ding dong the witch is gone” to appease that station as they were referring to the STJ as the “Sline Journal” and that worked (for a while). Lately I’ve heard you referred to on that station in a negative light and cannot understand why. My hope is that this article is in no way intended to serve as “penance” to any group that may have misunderstood your intentions or position.
    I must disagree that there is a system that works against people in Selma. My position is the polar oppisite. I’m thinking that there isn’t enough systems (and respect for systems)in Selma which allow political “cronyism” to abound in how the city dispenses with it’s funding each year. A weak council has made for a very strong Mayor position. Many years ago a very weak (32 member) board allowed the Community Action Agency (CAA) to “run amuck” and that XO is now a radio announcer.
    As demands on the city for social concerns increase due to federal and state cutbacks, you should see greater discourse in the local diolog (unfortunately). pops.

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