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Some of the worst ideas in the world have come from religion

To The Daily Sun,

I enjoyed Professor Cracraft's op-ed the other day and commend him for trying to educate conservative Christians, or any Christian for that matter. A good Catholic friend of mine once recommended that I don't write about religion in this media because I would be arguing "apples and oranges", as he put it.

You see Christians have had a "personal experience" with the Lord, and unless one has had the same, it would be useless to discuss anything with them. My friend is a convert to the faith and therefore is, shall we say, a bit more energetic in his beliefs. He liked to refer to me as a "cradle Catholic," meaning I was born into it, so therefore did not understand my own religion since I had a "child's perspective" on it. Whatever. He failed to take into account that I was Catholic until early adulthood.

We've all had these personal experiences with the Lord at one time or another and as we mature we begin to recognize that they are nothing more than chemical reactions in the brain — at least many of us do. A year ago I touched on the topic of religion and got a quick response from a so-called teacher of the Bible from Franklin who warned me that I was verging on "blasphemy" — it bordered on a threat. One should never argue religion with an atheist — especially Bible thumpers.

It's one thing to memorize a catechism and brainwash children about "talking snakes", but quite another to investigate holy texts with a critical eye. Some of the worst ideas in the world have come from religion.

Blasphemy is one of them. It is a notion that some ideas are off limits to criticism. By definition, criticism of these ideas is an outrage and it is this emotion that the crime of blasphemy evokes in believers. The idea that blasphemy must be prevented or avenged has caused millions of murders over the centuries and countless other horrors.

Here's the bottom line in my humble opinion: Christians need to face up to the fact of their own mortality. If they need to fabricate stories and invent jewel encrusted sidewalks and streets paved with gold, then fine. Whatever it takes to help them with the journey. They should, however, refrain from imposing their insecurities onto others.

George Maloof

Plymouth

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 January 2015 10:35

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Lakes Region businesses support so many worthy causes

To The Daily Sun.

So many local businesses are quietly generous and supportive to our community organizations.

Recently, Rob and Wendy Richter of Quik Cleaners stepped up and offered to clean our many aprons and towels used each week at the free hot meal provided by Hands Across the Table. This may seem like a small thing, but to us it is so helpful.

Please be sure to thank the local businesses who support so many worthy causes throughout the Lakes Region.

Debbie Frawley Drake

HATT Publicity Chair

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 January 2015 10:32

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Minds made up based on idealism, don't confuse them with truth

To the Daily Sun,

It was nice to read Mr. Alan Moon's polite letter to your publication as so many of those you publish seem to burgeon with intolerance for those who do not share their opinions. Civil conversation and discussion is what makes a civilized society and Mr. Moon is correct when he expresses dismay with people who are unwilling to hear opposing views.

As a child I was taught that in order to be well-informed a person should study as many sources as possible about any subject, before making an informed decision. As the child of military parents I grew up in more than 20 countries, was educated in eight, and finally settled here in New Hampshire in 2002. In addition I have traveled extensively for pleasure, visiting every continent except Antarctica, including both popular destinations and out-of-the-way places. My experience with other cultures has also taught me that what is considered normal or commonplace in the USA may not be so elsewhere. It has certainly given me a different perspective on life than I might otherwise have had.

In recent years I have been troubled by the number of people, mostly those with far-views, who wish to suppress sources and opinions with which they disagree. Long before I had ever seen or heard of Fox News, I found that when I would question those far-left views, I was accused of spending my "entire life watching Fox News" as though this was something disgusting and criminal (rather like being accused of cooking and dealing crystal meth!). People with whom these lefties disagree are made out to be either stupid, or fanatics of some type, or totally unaware of the realities of life. Their mindset seems to be that of "I've made up my mind based on idealism and limited information — please don't confuse me with the truth."

And as a Tea Party sympathizer I am astonished to learn from the left-wingers that I am a gun-toting racist, a xenophobe, someone who wants to keep women barefoot and pregnant and subject to abuse, and want poor people to starve to death in the streets. In case they haven't got the point yet, TEA stands for Taxed Enough Already. We believe in the Constitution and we are tired of government at all levels interfering in our lives and taking more and more of our income for purposes that do not seem to benefit the populace as a whole.

Mr. Moon is correct in pointing out the danger to our society from fundamentalist Muslims who, like the extreme left in this country, can see only one point of view and will do whatever it takes to have their way. If we wish to survive as a society we need to be able to have a discourse that allows all opinions to be carefully considered and not contemptuously ignored or responded to with disparagement and insult.

D.M. Williamson

Laconia

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 January 2015 10:25

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State budget shouldn't be balanced on back on nursing homes

To The Daily Sun,

I am writing this as a letter to the state representatives, county commissioners and the taxpayers of Laconia and other Belknap County towns.

The 2015 session of the state Legislature has convened and already the bills are pouring in for consideration. This is also the budget year and most of the bills will have an effect on all of us. There are many, but for this particular letter I want to spend some time on the proposal to cut $7 million from the current Health & Human Services budget for nursing home care.

The article on this appeared in The Daily Sun on Saturday, Jan. 24 and lawmakers were told the cut was necessary to cover a current $58 million shortfall in this department. Isn't it funny how the governor on Thursday, the 22nd, announced this fiscal period ends with a $1 million revenue surplus. The reasons for this shortfall are increases in the number of children added to Medicaid rolls, administrative costs for N.H. Expansion for Obamacare program, and the state's settlement of lawsuit over mental illness problem. None of these have to do with nursing homes or home care programs, but let's take their money to cover them.

Further, while there is money unexpended in this HHS budget that should be paid to nursing homes and home care facilities as reimbursements, Nick Toumpas, the director of HHS, wants to use it to plug shortfall with Gov. Hassan's approval.

We also must note the president's budget plans include further cuts to Medicare over the next 10 years, if passed.

All of this means, that county nursing homes that do not receive their fair reimbursements, will be forced to pass the losses onto the local taxpayer to fund their budgets.

This is just part of the problem. In looking at it down the road, shouldn't we be doing something to take care of the hundreds more each year that will be eligible for nursing home care and unable to afford private care. The Belknap County Home has had the best reputation and the best care of all nursing homes in the region forever. At this time, we are looking at spending millions for a new jail that is overflowing with criminals. This jail abuts this wonderful nursing home. We are all aware of the statistics that have shown the overwhelming increase in seniors living in Belknap County, and the percentage is even greater in Laconia. An interesting fact is that in the age of primary taxpayers, taxpayers over 60 increased by 15 percent, while the 30-to-40 age group declined by 25 percent, and under 30, dropped 21 percent. Shouldn't this group be given more consideration than those that pay nothing instead of cutting services they need.

These cuts that are being proposed nationally and locally are adding to the loss of doctors and health care givers. Schools for medical training and research are also getting the axe, which means more reductions in health care givers at a time when we need them more.

I wonder if money for the jail could be spent by buying the state school property for the jail needs and for the farming land it contains for raising produce and stock, thereby making feeding needs more sustainable and giving work and exercise to the inmates. Giving them worthwhile duties that only help in rehabilitation.

This would make the county nursing Home safer and the opportunity to use new space for future expansion or improvements.

So, state representatives and commissioners, please do what you must to defeat this bill and restore monies that are due our nursing homes and home care programs.

Councilor Brenda Baer

Ward 4, Laconia

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 January 2015 10:19

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Support on all fronts needed to fight spread of opiate addiction

To The Daily Sun,

Addiction — been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Personal experience is an advantage but ...

Stand Up Laconia, is a good idea that to me translates into hope as well as unification. It also puts into perspective a serious and worsening problem that can't be exaggerated. People who have been directly or indirectly affected — and that means virtually all of us — by the ancient phenomenon of opiate addiction, are often very passionate about the havoc on the human spirit that it wreaks. Those who are in short- to medium-term recovery from this condition still feel the post trauma that manifests both personally and psychosocially. When a drug such as heroin is long gone from the system, mind and emotions must continue to readjust to a world of insecurity and intense guilt as the newly recovering addict evaluates the destruction in its wake.

Some clinical components of the modern addiction recovery treatment process are better off left to specialized clinicians who have put a lot into developing their skills. Quite often the most effective direct recovery support providers are those who come up from the hardship of addiction with gritty, up-close and personal experience as to how relentless and ruthless active heroin addiction can be. But if it were only those who have survived such addiction and have been in recovery long enough to provide that help, there wouldn't be enough soldiers to fight in the war. The casualty rate is high for those addicted to opiates. If a long-term recovering addict, particularly a heroin addict, can make it to the point where they can give recovery away in order to keep it, then they truly do have an edge. Empathy is powerful.

Yet if direct substance abuse treatment were to be delegated only to those few ... and unfortunately very few, who make it to the point where they are able to do just that, there would not nearly be enough to go around. The vast majority of active addicts and alcoholics die from their addiction if they don't seek treatment. They just eventually die. Recovery is not easy because addiction wants death and misery in the meantime. The person takes the drug. The drug takes the drug. Then the drug takes the person.

Point being that we need our devoted psychologists, physicians, nurses, psychiatrists, mental health therapists, street-wise direct service caseworkers and counselors, law enforcement professionals, task forces, clinics, drug courts, undercover police, school teachers, guidance counselors, post-trauma specialists, EPA programs, pharmaceutical companies who are willing to continue appropriate research, politicians, dedicated, well-meaning clergy of all religions and the list goes on.

We will be at a disadvantage against this recent upsurge of the darkest addiction of all, unless we work closely together and contribute whatever we can. Those who were at the Stand Up meeting are examples of diversity in cohesion who offer what they have toward a common cause. Opiate and opioid addiction have been part of the human condition for a very long time and as technology continues to advance in all areas, drug "providers" use every new method at hand to distribute their product.

Likewise, so should we as a community in tandem, use whatever appropriate means that is available to respond. Advancements in medicine and addiction potential, such as the hypodermic syringe in 1853 as well as the advent of milligram-packed oxycodone pills during the 1990s, have tremendous positive and negative potential. With fluent information and a focus on the common goal, we can utilize everything that is brought to the table by individuals who have specialized tools and weapons.

The best, and likely the only means by which we as a community can make a serious difference in terms of fighting the spread of opiate addiction, is with mutual support on all fronts. We all have something to offer. Those who have had personal experience and live to tell about it can humbly say, "Been there, done that," and I strongly prefer to never go there again. My T-Shirt says, "No more peanuts, monkey," but only on this day. Tomorrow will be, "Again one day."

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. once referred to opium addiction as a frightful endemic demoralization. To underestimate the horrific potential of this condition, which is hugely more widespread than 20 years ago, is to leave a convenient window of vulnerability for a disease that wants anyone who falls into its clutches, dead. There is no such thing as "recovered", only "recovering".

The "co-addict" recovering community are those immediate family members who have been through the torment of watching loved ones deteriorate as well as perhaps being victims of drug related-crime and the cost incurred.

These days generation Z — the late teens to 20s age group — has been left with far more daunting socioeconomic challenges than ever before in America. Low wages, rapidly rising education costs and an overall situation that all but completely eliminates any realistic concept of what once was the American dream, is what preceding generations leave them. The very least we can do is absolutely everything possible to hinder, minimize and discourage the threat of opiate drug addiction.

When a child or teenager crosses that invisible line from experimentation into opiate addiction, the majority of them at best will strive for the rest of their lives to stay clean and their sunshiny visions of successful futures are then permanently eclipsed, mitigated by a looming dark cloud that wants to stifle any shred of hope they may still have. That is an extra burden they should not have to bear.

Michael Tensel

A&D Recovery Counseling

Laconia

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 January 2015 11:51

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