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Ain’t nobody special

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Jim Opionin by Jim Powers
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American singer, songwriter and actress LeAnn Rimes recently released a new song, Spaceship. Rimes has struggled with depression and anxiety for years. The song could be an anthem for those who suffer from major depression.

While I’ve never struggled personally with major depression, I have years of confronting the struggle daily and have learned a lot about compassion and understanding others because of it. Check out the video of Rimes’ song on YouTube by searching for Leann Rimes Spaceship (brief nudity at the end).



Here’s the beginning lyrics to the tune:

No, I never felt like I belonged here
This world wasn't quite ready for me
Whoever's out there in the stratosphere
Got a question for the cosmic engineer
Is it all you believed it would be?

Hey God, why don't you take me home?
Beam me up, I got a ticket to board
Yeah, you know I'm coming home anyway
So, we might as well blast off today, for fun
I'm waiting on my spaceship to come

How much pain can we bear being human?
I'm pretty sure that my mission is done here
How much more, yeah, do you want from me?
Haven't I earned the right to be a nominee?
To float out past the Pleiades
Oh, no, you can't be that hard to please…

Leann Rimes is 40 years old. The insight and sentiment in the song sounds more like those of an old guy like me, not a middle age, very successful and talented singer. A lot of older people feel the same way, struggling to get by without the buffer that wealth can provide in old age. I have heard it many times, “God, surely I’ve done whatever you put me here to do, why don’t you take me home.” We can’t know the mind of God.

But I don’t really want to write about depression. I want to write about privilege and power. And the very common struggles of someone with privilege and power illustrate my topic well.

Many people, as we can tell from the popularity of TV preachers promoting the Prosperity Gospel, believe that acquiring wealth and success in life means that God loves them in a special way that He doesn’t others. They believe that money and success mean they have earned a place in the spiritual realm different than those of us who have lived average lives. That God bestows material wealth and success on those he loves most. And that that special position with God justifies their exercising power and control over mere humans. That God has given them a special wisdom to lord over other human beings.

But my Bible tells me that God has no favorites, bestows no special insight on anyone, sees every human being as special and important. The wealthy and powerful still suffer the calamities of the poor, despite the solid gold health care and living conditions that wealth provides. Wealth often fuels hubris, though, and we end up with politicians who believe only they have the truth. And that “truth” gives them the justification to tell others how they will live, what they will believe, who they will love, and the box they will spend their life in.

It's a lie. Ain’t nobody special. While we may never understand what purpose we were to accomplish by being put on this earth, we were not put here to rule over other humans. God makes it clear that He reserves that power to himself. Don’t give it to flawed human beings with overinflated opinions of their own superiority.

And whatever political party you ascribe to (a concept ridiculous to God, along with geographical borders), don’t forget to vote. If you really want one wealthy politician or another to control your life, at least pick them deliberately, don’t give them that power by default.

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History Is HISTORY!

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Horace McQueen ColumnBy Horace McQueen

Nero Fiddles and Rome burns!  Such a fitting comparison to the headlines of today! Protestors continue marching, burning, looting and raising Hell in general. And too often the weak spineless politicians are afraid to challenge the protesters. Once statues come crashing down that are not “correct” in the eyes of the rabble rousers, what next? One Houston reactionary advocates tearing down the huge statue of Sam Houston that graces I-45 and old Highway 75 near Huntsville. And all roads, streets, highways, byways, schools, other public buildings that bear names of our leaders from generations ago are in the target zone. Just think about this! If not for the leadership of slave owner Houston at the battle of San Jacinto, Texas today could be a part of Mexico. 

Reckon what the “tear ‘em down” morons really know about our history—not a whole lot! Teachers must spend a lot of time “teaching to the test” and not teaching our youngsters the history about the building of this great nation. Reckon how many high school students know that the Washington monument was built by contractors (all Yankees) using slave labor. Or that the Inca and Mayan temples in Mexico and Central America were built by slaves. Those who need a cause to destruct property should join the U.S. military and head across the water to where real battles are being fought by REAL AMERICANS.

No more Six Flags Over Texas featuring the flags that have flown over the Lone Star State. With all the protests against anything Southern, the Six Flags owners removed the six flags that have flown over the tourist attraction since 1961. Destined for the burn barrels are the flags of Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas and the Confederacy. Only the flag of the United States will be waving henceforth at Six Flags. A Six Flags spokesperson said owners wanted to feature that which “unites us rather than divides us.” 

What a mess, man-made and no end in sight. Lord, bring us leaders with common sense and the backbone to bring us together! 

That’s –30--- This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Election season and your newspaper

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PublisherPointsElection season is a lot like sporting events in small communities. I have seen friends, co-workers, and acquaintances become unfriendly at the baseball park, softball fields, and little dribblers games during the heat of the moment. But then the season is over and assuming the banter did not go too far and get too unfriendly, people forgive and forget the bad moments. 

I am hoping for the same after the 2022 election in Tyler County. We all live here and for the most part, have the same desire, to thrive in a safe community. 

Since 1990 when I started working for the Tyler County Booster, the policy has always been: each candidate can put a free announcement with a photo to let the public know they are running for office, who they are, and what they hope to accomplish. After that, anyone can purchase a political advertisement anywhere in the newspaper where ads are permitted on a first come, first served basis. These ads must be pre-paid. Also, the ads must have a disclaimer stating that it was paid for by the candidate, or it was paid for by an organized group for the candidate, or a friend of the candidate. In the last instance, the person must have permission from the candidate to run an advertisement on their behalf. 

Last week, someone bought an advertisement for a candidate. He assured the newspaper he had spoken with the candidate two weeks prior to the ad running and the candidate was aware of the content of the ad. These two have known each other for 35 years, according to the gentleman paying. 

Due to the controversy that ensued after the ad ran and words were exchanged during a political forum last Thursday night, I spoke with the candidate and the gentleman who paid for the ad. I have determined that the general message of the ad was known and approved by the candidate, but the candidate did not realize the exact words his supporter would use to present the message and has since received backlash from the community for a few poorly chosen words used in the advertisement. This is unfortunate and feelings have been hurt, but no laws have been broken. Everyone involved acted in good faith. This gentleman, who spent his personal money to support a candidate he believed in, put his thoughts in print. Most others, if being honest, could say if their thoughts were in print, more feelings would be hurt. 

Many subscribers to this newspaper are registered voters in Tyler County. This includes the seven families who work at this for-profit business and get their livelihood from it. We all have a voice, and a vote. We do not all agree, but we do all agree to vote. 

I encouraged you to vote for the candidates you feel will best represent Tyler County effectively in the positions they are running. Then, whatever the result, we will all accept it and begin working together again for Tyler County until the next election season. 

See you at the polls.

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Regardless of hype, look to the bright side

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FromEditorsDesk Tony CroppedBy Tony Farkas
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This last weekend was an anniversary of sorts for me.

Six years ago, as I was helping my wife with an event she was managing, basically an antiquing/repurposing/handmade goods weekend show, I suffered a heart attack.

A few hours later, I suffered a second one helping my daughter make her bed.

Three days later, I was the proud owner of four bypassed arteries and three drainage tubes, and was treated to a magnificent week-long stay at Baylor Scott & White Hospital in College Station courtesy of Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

There were tears, trials, tribulations, fear, pills and more pills, rehab, and more. It was a pretty scary time.

I could focus on that and let that event be the defining moment of my life; I could drag around, woe is me, and become a burden with little hope. But I won’t.

I was told by my doctor that after all that, there was zero heart damage. None. If that’s not a bright side, I really don’t have an idea what is. But that’s a bright side.

I realize I spend a lot of ink and typing pointing out the downward trajectory of the economy, government, liberty and other things, but truly there are so many things that are positive in this country, and we’ll see that once we change our viewpoint.

For instance, East Texas really is a great place to live. There is a camaraderie here that is as welcome as it is ingrained into the fabric of the society.

There are numerous school districts that take the education of children seriously and approach it passionately.

There are elected officials that champion the rights of victims and ensure that justice is meted out fairly and equitably.

There are law enforcement officials that are just as much a part of the society as they are protectors of it, and care about keeping everyone safe.

There are legislators that skip the party lines, that care about doing what’s right instead of what will get the most votes in the next election.

There are the everyday, workaday folk that will stop by a stalled car to help, who volunteer for fire departments, who will fundraise for charities, who will work night and day to make civic events something to be proud of, and who always extend helping hands.

There are members of the military, who serve because it’s right, and there are veterans, who not only have served the country but came home and began serving the community (special shout out to VFW Post 6899, who came through in a big way for the SAAFE House this weekend).

There are so many churches throughout the area that help heal spiritually and more and give so much because it’s the right thing to do.

There’s a just and loving God above us, and that promise alone is worth the trouble that we endure down here, because, really, what does $4 gas matter to the promise of the Kingdom?

I also believe that parents need to reclaim their “sovereign rights” on the education of their children.

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An ode to my lil’ buddy

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The author and his lil’ buddy Pancho, circa 2009.The author and his lil’ buddy Pancho, circa 2009.

By Chris Edwards
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The age of 13 is a magical age in America. It tends to signal that transition, for most, from gawky pre-adolescence into something different. Not quite a full-blown teenager, but there on that precipice. There’s still fun to be had.

Thirteen, if you are a cat, is a good age. Not ancient, but not quite a spring chicken, either. Our animal family members live longer, fuller lives nowadays, due to combinations of genetics, better nutrition and of course, plenty of TLC. My little buddy Pancho still had fun to be had. He was 13.

Pancho transitioned, last week, from his handsome, tall and thin, orange and white form here into something sublime, but I miss him. I am not alright about this.

My mind keeps transitioning back to a Saturday afternoon, March 7, 2009, to be exact. I had just gotten through playing my Saturday morning solo acoustic gig at the Nacogdoches Farmers Market, when I spied, in the corner of my eye, the most adorable tiny kitten ever.

The sweet lady who carried him had made it her mission to see that as many feline and canine citizens in her midst without homes could end up in loving homes. This kitten was one she’d been fostering for a brief while, and I asked her right away if he was available for adoption. As luck would have it, he was.

Since March 7 was the birthday of our greatest songwriter, Mr. Townes Van Zandt, I reckoned I should name the little guy something to honor Townes, and so his name became Pancho (Lefty came along about a month later). I was over the moon to bring him home and tell him, “This is your new home, lil’ buddy.”

The story his foster mom had given me along with his paperwork from the vet, about his origin, was horrifying, and I blotted it out for a long time because I could not/did not want to imagine. Apparently though, the tiny orange-and-white kitten came dangerously close to becoming a coyote’s meal, but luckily a combination of his will to live and the intervention of a rescuer who saw the beast with the tiny kitten, ended well.

I often wondered, through the years, if Pancho had any brothers or sisters, or where his mama might be. Those thoughts often turned to scary “what ifs”: like what if Pancho would’ve ended up as someone else’s companion; in someone else’s home. Again, as much joy as he brought to my life, I snuffed out those thoughts about as quickly as they’d emerge.

As time moved on, that little squatty kitten grew up to be a long, tall, skinny and athletic dandy of a feline specimen. He was a cat’s cat who loved his catnip and treats and loved eating anything piscine.

He was chill as a kitty could be, but also quite active, and could jump higher than any cat I’ve ever seen. But of course, if you had spring-loaded jackrabbit-esque feet like Pancho did, you could probably jump that high, too.

He carried himself with an uncommon grace and self-assuredness, and every year, from his first full year onward, he would grow a ridiculously epic mane, starting in the fall. It would start to wane in the springtime, yet he still had something of a mane to show off, even in the summer months.

Sometime in the past couple of years, I had taken to calling Pancho “Animal Man.” He had a few nicknames, among them “Panchito,” “Mr. Mane,” “Panchy” and “Tailymane,” but the “Animal Man” handle came from my observation that he was like a little man inside of a cat’s body.

Sometimes I would sit with him and just imagine what he would be like if he were human. I’m pretty sure he’d have impeccable manners and have a great fashion sense. He’d probably resemble someone like David Hyde Pierce’s Niles Crane character, yet with a physique like Abraham Lincoln’s.

A few years ago, Lefty, who is Pancho’s lynx-point Siamese life-mate, was horribly ill; ill to a degree that his vet did not expect him to recover, yet he did. While he was so sick, I could see how worried Pancho was. Years prior to that, when Lefty was stricken with a brief sinus infection, it was the same concern, with Pancho wanting to get into the pet carrier with his brother, to ride to the vet’s office with him.

Although Lefty is now robust and recovered, I still figured, inevitably, that someday, he would pass before his beloved Pancho, and that Pancho would be beyond lost.

Now, it might be the most heartbreaking thing of all to watch Lefty wandering around, looking lost; knowing he is trying to find his brother.

They mourn losses around them. They know what’s going on. Although they might not express things with the same language you and I may use, our animal friends and family have feelings, souls and lives to live.

So if you are reading this and you have fur-covered family members, whether they’re young, old or in-between, give them a little extra attention today. If you have time in your busy day, why not pick up some special treats at the store for them and go home on your lunch break and treat them to a surprise.

After all, you are their world.

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