Tuesday, March 30, 2010

MY Letter to the Editor for Local Paper

This is MY Letter to the Editor.




Dear Letter to the Editor,
I write this letter anonymously in hopes you will print it as such. It is my desire the content will make someone think and make a change down the line, maybe make a difference in that neighbor’s life next door. It is not my desire to collect a bunch of ignorant opinions that get posted for the Eagle.
I read in a recent Reader’s Digest an article on “15 Secrets the Emergency Staff Won‘t Tell You.” Number 8 stated “One of our favorite lines is "You can’t fix stupidity.” http://www.rd.com/living-healthy/15-secrets-the-emergency-room-staff-wont-tell-you/article175023-7.html#slide. I realize there are far too many who live to post opinions instead of learning from the experience of another. However, if one person reads this and realizes their actions affect another person, it was worth all of the recreational opinion posters who have nothing else to do.

I’ve lived in Dothan for over 25 years now. I only returned here to take care of my parents and sibling till they passed away. Shortly after, I became chronically ill and was trapped. I never realized just how trapped I was until the label of “physical illness” was ingrained on my life.
I’ve learned over the past 25 years that the majority of Dothan citizens care only about what family name you came from and how many generations that name goes back, how much wealth you hold, and what position in life you hold. I learned this by attending church, the one place where there is suppose to be a place for everyone, where labels are not suppose to be placed on people, where love is suppose to be abundant. I learned this from working in a church where behind the scenes members and ministers are not what you see on Sunday and Wednesday nights. I’ve learned over many years now that just because you’re a member of a church doesn’t mean it matters that your name is on a prayer list or you are in the hospital. It depends on who you are whether you receive a visit or not.
I learned many people think it is your fault if you are sick or you don’t have enough faith to be healed. Maybe they should have a talk with God before labeling someone. One day they may remember those words as they walk in the same shoes. Unfortunately many say it will never happen to them.

I have learned it is easier for people to judge than to ask why. Gossiping about your next door neighbor brings more entertainment than asking why they are sick or never have family visit.
I have learned that even though there is a noise ordinance in the city of Dothan, the City Police Department does NOT enforce it. I know this because my windows constantly rattle from the booming car stereos that pass the road outside of my apartment or in the parking lot outside my bedroom window. I know this because I see the police car behind the loudest booming car waiting behind a red light, the police car that does not stop the offender or give him a ticket because the judges won’t enforce the tickets once it reaches court. Perhaps the judges should have to live with the boom cars outside THEIR windows 24 hours a day to finally understand WHY there is a noise ordinance to begin with.

I lived next door to a preacher for ten years. I learned just because someone has the title “Reverend or Dr.” before their name doesn’t mean a thing. I learned that preacher who does not invite you to his church, who never has a kind word to say to those who live around him unless they are socialites or wealthy, and hates to go to the hospital and nursing home (as he shared), really should be looked at twice. I learned that a preacher who was asked to leave a church was asked for a reason. His congregation should remember there are two sides to every story. I learned a preacher who hates animals so much he puts animal traps in his backyard every day of the year and has them taken out like the trash says more about his character and ministry than any title a seminary could ever give him. I learned from my father that the way an animal and child reacts to a person is the best character indicator you can trust. I also learned that in this example, the animal indicator pointed to jackass instead of Christian.
I learned there are Christians who say many things, but their actions, or lack thereof, say more. Every life touches another whether you want it to or not. It leaves an impact. Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. I’ve learned to act. If you’re going to live on this earth, make a difference. Reach beyond the comfort barriers of your family to someone who needs a kind word or love. Sitting in a pew makes no difference. What difference did you make today?
I learned there are far too many people who listen to preachers who misquote the Bible and still say “Amen!” I learned a long time ago to think for myself, follow the scripture and really listen. I learned just because a man chooses to stand in the pulpit and preach God’s word does not mean God chose him to be His minister.

I learned the city police will not come to your home to arrest a neighbor when they are high on drugs and beating up their roommate unless they “see them do it” and will not let you file a statement unless they want you to. Lucky for me, I learned the next day to call again and ask for a Supervising Officer to inform them the policeman didn’t do his job. They do follow through. Unfortunately, if you think a business is being broken into and give the city dispatcher detailed location, the officer may say the following “I couldn’t find that place and won’t go back unless she speaks to me.” Funny, there was only one daycare on that corner.

I learned many who live in Dothan surround only its select citizens with acceptance and love and pushes the others to the side. Elected officials will tell you how wonderful people treat them. So will the social elite.
I learned there are far too many people who don’t want to get involved when they see a person or an animal being abused, see drug dealers making front door deliveries, see senior citizens get bullied for trying to stand up for themselves.
I learned there are too many apartment complexes in Dothan who have managers who do not enforce the rules printed on the lease you sign as long as you make your monthly rent payment. I also learned there are some who own rental property who hold status in city government and own long time businesses who would let the bedroom ceiling fall in on the renters sending them to the hospital before they would repair it. This one was from experience.
I also learned property owners and managers need to run a background check before they fill that empty building just to put money in their pockets. Try thinking about the person who lives next door for a change.
I learned if someone keeps chickens in a large apartment complex and you call Dothan Animal Control, you are told the following by the officer in charge: “ Well, there is a fine line here. Dothan is a farming community. I can’t do much.” This was the dumbest thing I ever heard. I also learned they do nothing and chickens continue to live at the same complex inside the circle. I also learned if you go down the proper line of command, you still have chickens living in an apartment complex. This line is as follows: Humane Society (they have to go through Animal Control), Animal Control (they can only give you the officer in charge), Police (they say call Animal Control), Dothan Planning and Development (the lady couldn’t believe he said that and still can’t believe anything was not done about it). So call the Sheriff’s department and see what happens next. Never say anything to the apartment manager. They always say “I wouldn’t worry about it” or “yeah, they’re different.”
I learned if someone comes here from another country, they should learn how to speak English. If you are aware of free English classes, pass the information on. If I went to another country, I would learn their language. I also learned managers would rather blame language barriers on problems than take care of the problems before they occur.
I think that would be doing their job.
I have learned teens who wear their pants so that their butts are poking out below their belts are being sent the wrong message. Indecent exposure is indecent exposure. I remember that being against the law as well. The last thing I want to see is someone’s butt poking through their underwear. The very last thing I want to see is some teen walking past my door with his belt buckle sitting on top of his thigh exposing his underwear in front. Embarrass him? You better believe I did. If you have to hold your pants to walk, you have no sense to walk.
I’ve learned you have to tell teens this is NOT a cool thing. It is a stupid thing and makes them look stupid as well. Life is hard enough without labeling yourself as such. You cannot open doors for your life by opening your pants and dropping them to your knees. If their parents won’t tell them, if the police won’t tell them this is indecent exposure, someone has to tell them. If it embarrasses them, maybe it will stick.
I have learned if I go for a late night walk for fresh air, I will find something illegal or morally wrong outside my door in Dothan. I hope I have taught the teen male and female who chose to park in front of my window to have sex on a Tuesday night that not only was that incredibly stupid, but thanks to a dead battery in the get away car, you don’t park in an apartment complex parking lot to do your thing. You might get a full lecture from a retired teacher, the fear of God put in your soul, the threat of calling your parents to come get you, and what seemed like a few minutes turn into eternity.
I have learned no matter what the local news says about crime being down in Dothan, that doesn’t make it true. I think people should use common sense and realize this.
I have learned over the past few years just how much I hate living in Dothan. Before you decide to post your remarks (please see second paragraph and remember number 8), believe me, if I could afford to move out of here, I would without a drop of regret. It is hard to live on a fixed income created by a physical illness I never asked for when I worked my way through college. Remember your life may not turn out the way you want it to either. It is not my desire to collect a bunch of ignorant opinions that get posted for the Eagle, but if one person thinks and makes a change, it was worth it.
I learned that I’m stuck in Dothan unless a miracle comes my way to get me out of here. Good thing I still believe in miracles.
I learned the hard way my faith is not in people, but in God.
We continue to learn till the day we die. I’m willing to learn the good things about Dothan and wish I could think of something now. If you want to prove me wrong, please do so.
One of my favorite quotes is as follows: “Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” Quoted by many, but the meaning comes from the Bible: Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. -- 'Proverbs 17:28.
A fool? Maybe. But a fool keeps silent and allows someone to bully them. A fool believes it is their fault when the other doesn’t want to deal with the problem they caused by the lack of their actions and intimidates them to keep them quiet. It is the fool who takes and takes and takes and never says “enough.” This fool says enough.
Sometimes you just have to share what you’ve learned in hopes another makes a change along the way.
Anonymous

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