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The Literary Corner: Renegade Writer’s Guild

Our New Year

By Gaye Hoots

The year we just said goodbye to challenged us, and we hope the year we just ushered in will be one we can share without the fear of COVID dictating our interactions with others and affecting our economy. Hopefully, the vaccine will help, and like flu, we will feel it is less of a threat.

My new year involves a change of residence, but the transition is a slow one. I am enjoying the condo in Oriental and have made changes to make it mine. More renovation is planned for later if I can afford it. My family came down with me, so I am learning to live with others after living alone for years. The twins love it here, and they make me happy, but they require a lot of attention and times two. They also give a lot of love, and I will miss them, their brother, and mother when they return home.

Yesterday I learned of another friend who tested positive for COVID, but she reported mild symptoms and seems to be recovering. I read of the death of someone who was a part of our childhood. His mother was my second-grade teacher, his father a friend of my father’s, and he was a baseball player who had a shot at becoming a pro. He and his brother are part of our childhood memories. He wrote a book about growing up in Advance that I enjoyed reading.

Facebook keeps me updated on friends and events. My hope is that our children will be able to return to school safely, that all business will be able to operate safely and that our economy will be able to support the enormous debt we are saddled with. Hopefully, churches will be able to resume their schedules, and the facilities for the homeless will be able to reopen.

The old saying about not missing the water until the well goes dry applies here. Many things we take for granted can and did cease to exist. My sister and her husband got their COVID shots this week, and others got a stimulus check. My prayer is that each of these will have the desired effect. If not, I will be spending much of my time looking at the waterway and sailboats, reading, writing a little, and appreciating the time with loved ones and Facebook contact with friends. The years seem to pass faster as I get older, and I want to savor each day.

Lincoln Lineage

By Marie Craig

I’ve always been interested in “coincidences” and wonder if there are actually any random things that just happen.  About 1996 I was volunteering one afternoon at a Family History Center between Hayesville and Murphy, North Carolina.  We did not have a lot of patrons come to our center to research their genealogy, but this afternoon two men who did not know each other arrived at the same time.  I showed each of them how to use our computers and our software that linked to millions of records of deceased ancestors.

They each worked quietly and once in a while said something to the other.  They took a quick break, and one of them said, “I’m kin to Abraham Lincoln.”

The other man said, “I am, too.”

The first said, “His father is buried right over here in Murphy.”

Man Two answered, “No, he’s not. He’s buried in Pleasant Grove, Illinois.”

Man One replied indignantly, “Abram Enloe is Abraham Lincoln’s father, and he’s buried at Harshaw Chapel Cemetery on the hill above Murphy, a few miles from here.  Nancy Hanks was a young woman working for the Enloes and became pregnant by Abram.  Mrs. Enloe threw her out of the house, and she eventually married Thomas Lincoln. Some legends say before the birth of Abraham and some say after.”

The two men continued to argue, and I wondered if I was to be a referee of a wrestling match. Finally, they just stopped speaking to each other and sullenly went back to work.

I’ve wondered about that discrepancy since the argument.  Research shows that many people believe this Murphy connection.  One Website article is located at https://www.carolinacountry.com/carolina-stories/carolina-people/was-abraham-lincoln-born-in-western-north-carolina.  Comments below this article show relatives who have been told this story and who claim evidence from interviews and DNA tests.  There is an organization promoting this and a PBS special about it.  A photograph of Abram’s tombstone is at www.findagrave.com.  His ID is 5617073, which is a quicker way of finding him in the millions of records.  A sentence added by a contributor says: “Alleged natural father of President Abraham Lincoln.”

Following this episode, I interviewed a man in his 50s who had a PhD in history and had always lived in Murphy.  He told me that as a boy he became interested in this story and went to visit a descendant of Abram Enloe.  He said that this man looked exactly like Abraham Lincoln.

I’ll let you decide the truth in this matter. My great wonder in all this experience is that two men who claimed the same kinship showed up at the Family History Center at the same time.  In my 25 years of volunteering at other centers, I have never had anyone mention this.

I Pledge Allegiance

By Julie Terry Cartner

I picture myself, an intense, obedient child, standing in my kindergarten classroom, curly hair bouncing, probably missing a few teeth, freckles prominently displayed on a, as my grandmother used to say, cute as a button, sunburned nose. Probably wearing a blue, somewhat ruffly dress, white lace topped socks and black patent leather shoes, I would stand somewhat somberly, right hand over my heart, as I earnestly recited the words permanently etched into my memory. Every day, without fail, class started with the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Did I understand it? No. I’m sure I didn’t. Did I say it with the utmost respect and sincerity? Yes. I’m sure I did. As the years progressed, from kindergarten through elementary school, from junior high through high school, not a day began without reciting those words. As the years passed, the meanings of the words and the overall statement became clear to me, and I grew to understand what I was saying.

Later, as a teacher, I was charged by my principal to teach the pledge, not just the words but the meaning. My boss demanded that every student who passed through our doors not only could recite and write the pledge, but also that they knew what they were saying, when it was written and by whom, and why it was written. This charge by my principal gave me the opportunity to pull out the words I had recited for so many years, break them down into understandable sections and to really think about them again. And so, I began:

I, me, the individual, thinking for myself. Pledge, promise, vow, swear with the greatest of honor. Allegiance, loyalty, fidelity, commitment, faithfulness. To the flag of the United States of America, the flag, a symbol of our country… am I pledging my allegiance to a flag? No, I am pledging my allegiance to what the flag represents: the blood, sweat and tears of generations of humans: soldiers, yes, but also farmers and fishermen, businessmen and politicians, teachers, doctors, lawyers, lumberjacks and riverboat captains, husbands, wives, sons and daughters, the rich, the poor, the caregivers and the care-receivers, all of American humankind, coming from all corners of the world in varying hues of color, of faith, of gender. That’s the America I pledge my allegiance to. An America of acceptance, an America that embraces its diversity.

And to the Republic for which it stands, Republic: the type of government where the sovereignty, the freedom, the authority, the independence is in the individual rather than the group. Our pledge of allegiance clearly values the individual as a person, a human with a human heart, a human with equal power and authority. Our country values us and requires us to value it above ourselves.

One Nation. One. Together. Unified.

Under God. Acknowledges there is a higher power than us.

Indivisible. Cannot be divided. Of course, it has been divided, but not for long in the scheme of existence. And we learned, as we always learn, we are stronger together, we are stronger when we put forth a unified front, than we can ever be apart.

With Liberty and Justice for All. Freedom. Independence. Fairness. Honesty. Integrity. Impartiality.

This year has been challenging in so many ways, COVID-19 non-withstanding. Our country continues to change, to expand, to grow. With growth comes growing pains, but as any expecting mother learns when her body expands to accommodate a growing baby, the growth is necessary for a healthy child. Let us continue to grow, and, in the same way that I took the time to learn what I was saying when I recited the pledge, let us take the time to understand each other, to love one another, to care for one another as we continue to embrace the country of which we are a valuable part. With liberty and justice for all.

2021 Instruction Manual

By Stephanie Williams Dean

The title of a simple New Year’s instruction booklet might be the movie title, “Eat, Pray, Love.”

Let’s take a look at how the word “eat” applies to both physical and spiritual natures. While we typically think of eating as the act of ingesting food for nourishment, eating means so much more in a spiritual context. God’s Word is essential for spiritual nourishment, just as food is to physical nourishment. As spiritual beings, we are as hungry for spiritual food as we are for food that nourishes the physical body. With an inadequate spiritual diet, we set ourselves up for spiritual disease the same way our health declines without adequate food. So let’s make sure we eat what supports good health – both physically and spiritually. This year, whether you get it at home through reading your Bible, at church, a friend’s bible study, or wherever – make sure you fill up on God’s words.  Try listing new opportunities for hearing more of God’s Word – seminars, retreats, and spiritual journeys, or sign up for an online Bible class.

Your Creator loves you and desires a deep and intimate relationship with you. Whether you realize it or not, you have a longing deep inside you that yearns for a relationship with Him.  The best way to know Him is through prayer.   We are like lost sheep without our shepherd. Setting aside a time and place for daily prayer is essential. Without that connection, you miss a vital component of living a joyous life. When you establish a practice of praying to God and inviting Him into your life, you are opening your soul to the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit indwells, it’s a miraculous experience, and your life is forever changed. True conversion leads to a fire in your soul, a passion for God, and enjoyment of the fruits of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  If you’re a non-believer, begin by getting to know God. Pray that He will help you grow spiritually. I’m big on listing as it’s helpful – how can I make more time for prayer in my life? Will attending a new church, participating in Bible studies or prayer groups be beneficial? Choose something.

And finally, ramp up the love. To love as Jesus loved, we have to be mindful. That means we must develop an awareness of our actions. We have to find more ways to connect deeply with our families and those around us. We want to stop living superficial, detached, disconnected existences. I always have to work on this because the more I spiritually mature, the less I need people. But, we can do this by being more approachable, boldly reaching out to others, and being more self-giving. Explore new ways of connecting with your family and loved ones. The people you love – love them better. One good way to get to know your family more intimately is to play a game of Table Talk after dinner.  Each person draws a card and answers the question on the card.   Again – list more ways to connect with people you care about and continue to widen your circle.    

Vaccines

By David R. Moore

This year many of us will be deciding whether or not to obtain the vaccine for COVID-19 virus.

Modern vaccines are traced back to 1796 with Edward Jenner. He observed that dairy workers would not acquire smallpox if they had already been infected with cowpox, a much milder disease.  At the time period in London, England, an estimated 1 in 13 people died of smallpox.  The cowpox vaccine dramatically reduced smallpox disease.  Research from Louis Pasteur in the 1870’s provided the world a better understanding of germ theory and establishing methods that became known as pasteurization.  Louis Pasteur showed that effective vaccines can be developed by using weakened or killed bacteria.  Pasteur developed vaccines for chicken cholera, anthrax and rabies.

Development of vaccines became a matter of national pride, and within a few decades vaccines for tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, and yellow fever became available.  The first flu vaccine was produced in 1945.  The vaccine for polio came out in 1955.  Vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella became available in the 1960’s.  Because of vaccinations, many diseases that were once common have now become rare or no longer exist in the US.

The first generation of vaccines was made from live (but weakened) pathogens or killed pathogens.  These attenuated vaccines induced the human immune system to produce Killer T-cell, Helper T-cell and antibody responses.  However, a weakened pathogen may cause disease in an immunocompromised vaccine recipient.

To lower risk to vaccine recipients, a second generation of vaccines was developed using specific antigens (proteins) of the pathogen which also induced immune system responses.

A third generation of vaccines is being developed using DNA or mRNA that codes for a specific antigen (protein) from a pathogen.  The DNA is taken up by the cells whose normal metabolic processes then produce the protein based on the genetic code of the plasmid.  Because the protein contains regions that are characteristic of bacteria or virus, they are recognized as being foreign.  The human immune system then generates Helper T-cell and antibody responses.  Once antibodies are available, the body will respond to an attack from a pathogen that has that protein on its surface.  The antibody will bind to that specific protein for later attack by other parts of the immune system.  Antibodies produced by the COVID-19 vaccines may also neutralize the pathogen directly by blocking that particular protein of the virus that is essential for its invasion into a human cell.

Recently the FDA has given Emergency Use Authorization for two vaccines for COVID-19 based upon the current safety and effectiveness data.  My personal thoughts are as follows.  First, over the years vaccines have become safer.  Second, having a vaccination will enable your body to fight off an infection faster which results in having milder symptoms.  Third, the spread of the disease will diminish and stop if vaccinations are widespread.  So, if you are sick and tired of COVID-19 virus, I would encourage you to consider getting the vaccine when it becomes available.

Ten Years vs Twelve Months

By Kevin F. Wishon

“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” Though numerous authors of the past have made similar statements, Bill Gates recently brought this profound statement back into the public awareness. It’s clever and simple in its message. Previously, I’ve read that a high percentage of people are terrible at estimating how long it takes to complete a project. I feel that this issue is what the above quote is trying to tackle.

Visualize our estimating habit as though we live inland hundreds of miles, yet we plan a drive time of one hour to reach the coast. When we look at this, it’s clear this plan isn’t going to work. While this example may be extreme, it’s not so ridiculous when we consider the remodel projects, schoolwork, or skills learning we’ve woefully time-managed. Most often, it takes more time than we ever imagined or planned.

Giving ourselves space and time to succeed is crucial for any kind of accomplishment. To give a student a good chance of success, the schools and colleges have a system involving many years of planned education. But, once we are on our own, we must learn to schedule personal endeavors for ourselves. After some time, we become good at scheduling the regular chores, tasks, and errands. So, it’s not the common stuff, it’s the bigger objectives that give us a problem.

When it comes to projects or challenges, the quote above is saying, “Stop giving yourself too little time to complete big, life altering tasks.” Instead, we may need to give ourselves five or ten years when planning greater challenges. By giving ourselves the time, we see that our goals are genuinely achievable. As we proceed into the first few days of 2021, I hope you will consider this quote. Give your dreams the time and space they deserve. If we properly time-manage the greater goals in life, who knows what is achievable?