I read recently that commentators such as I only have to write a certain number of words and get them in before their deadline; that's partially true. However, there is also the need to write interesting, thought-provoking and sometimes entertaining pieces for the reading public; after all, we must have a following in order for the OBSERVER to keep us on board.
But it is too often more than just writing words - we put ourselves "out there." We sign our names and our photos are attached, we don't hide behind fictitious nicknames, we write what we believe and welcome comments and differing opinions from those who take the time to read what we have written. So as I write this column I hope that you will stay with me as I try to meet your expectations.
Let's start with the senseless killing of a young boy in Florida. It is my understanding that the "Stand Your Ground" law was put into place so that individuals could protect themselves in a life-threatening situation. How does a 17-year-old, walking down the street, eating Skittles and drinking iced tea pose a life-threatening situation to anyone, especially when he was trying to get away from his pursuer?
Was Trayvon Martin murdered because he was black and the pursuer had a 9mm handgun that he was just too happy to use? Had Trayvon been white, would Zimmerman have pursued him? Did race play a role in this murder? The L.A. Times referred to the Trayvon Martin case as "A Collision of race, guns and Florida Law" and after reading their article, I agree. Hopefully, by the time this article is printed Zimmerman will be in jail and on his way to a life in prison for murder. But that won't bring Trayvon Martin back to his parents, his family and friends.
And then we have the gasoline crisis - yes it is a crisis! Not only are we encumbered by the unrest in the Middle East; we are also hamstrung by the fact that we have a diminished refining capability here in the U.S. The controversy over the Keystone Pipeline has been in the news almost around the clock lately, and the politicians are lining up to defend their positions. One side says building the pipeline from land locked Alberta through to the Gulf coast is a good and safe thing for the environment. "It will create jobs" they say, "reduce the price of gas and put us on the road to energy independence from the foreign oil companies." My question to them is how long will it take for these goals to be realized, and at what cost?
The other side says there is not enough evidence to ensure the environmental safety if the pipeline is built on or near the various aquifers in the northern part of the USA. However, it is safe, according to President Obama, to build in the southern part. Sorry, but this makes little or no sense to me. Even if the pipeline is built, we will still have to have the refining capacity beefed up; and we will not be the only recipients of this oil - much will still be shipped overseas. The American public should get involved in this controversy, it is not just a regional issue, and it impacts every one of us - even if you don't drive a vehicle. We need to stand our ground and say, enough already.
Of a more local concern is the recent announcement that a major employer and taxpayer may close their doors. NRG does not just employ many of our residents here in Chautauqua County; their tax revenue to the area is substantial.
NRG is a valuable corporate and community neighbor and are major players through their generous charity and civic contributions. We need to do all that we can to keep the Dunkirk NRG plant open and operating. Write, email, or call on the Governor, your senators and representatives - the OBSERVER has published the addresses, telephone numbers and website, please use them.
Finally, not that any of you need to be reminded, but I would be remiss if I didn't ask that you begin now to think about those running for the Republican nomination for President. The vote you cast in November will set the course for the next four years. This upcoming election should not be won or lost because of the talking heads on television; this election is critical to the future of this country and our children.
It is for the children that I write. It is for the children that I care about what happens to our city, state, country and world. Our children are our future, we need to protect them and give them every opportunity for success and happiness that we possibly can. And we need to ensure that they are provided justice when they are wronged, or murdered as Trayvon was. He could be your child, my child or "Any Child USA." We need to stand our ground for him and for all children like him, red or yellow, black or white - stand your ground and protect the future of this country - our children!
Have a great day.
Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to email@example.com