Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.

Give without prejudice
Oct13

Give without prejudice

“Hey man, you got some change? It’s a real hot day, and I could use a drink.” Expectant eyes look into mine as I reach for my wallet. My conviction to be generous wrestles with my doubt: could I be helping quench this man’s thirst for Dr. Pepper, or for something far more destructive? How am I to know how this stranger will spend my three dollars? As he disappears around the corner, I consider the situation, which reminds me of a Kendrick Lamar song. In “How Much a Dollar Cost,” Lamar describes a scene nearly identical to what I had just experienced, but different in one important detail: Lamar denies the homeless man a single dollar. After a brief conversation with Lamar, the man reveals himself to be Jesus Christ, telling Lamar that the price of the dollar was his place in heaven. As a commentary on greed, “How Much a Dollar Cost” encourages listeners to think not of panhandler’s plans for their money, but rather of the bigger picture: their duties as human beings to take care of each other. By extension, Lamar appeals to Christians to be Christ-like in our treatment of others, to give without hesitation. In a train station, I find myself able to, although unsure of his motives, do my best to make a positive impact on the man’s life in the only way I can. I do not believe that we should always assume the best, but to make a positive impact on others; it is necessary to suspend disbelief and listen to God. How unfortunate would it be to deny a brother or sister in Christ a few dollars out of distrust or a lack of understanding? Using common sense is still important. We can trust God to use our money for His good, while keeping an eye out for obvious warning signs that something is not right. Certainly there are situations where a handout will perpetuate a problem instead of alleviating it. At the end of the day, I believe it is always best to give to the needy, unless I see overwhelming evidence that I will do more harm than good. When on the fence about it, I find it best to trust God and let Him use my pocket change to touch another’s life. The homeless man returns and sits down a few minutes later, change from the vending machine in one hand, and a Dr Pepper in the...

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Are we doing enough to prevent head injuries in football?
Oct13

Are we doing enough to prevent head injuries in football?

It’s no secret that football is a tradition that has been a part of America for over a hundred years. No other sport can compare to the heated rivalries, the tradition of Thanksgiving football games, and the Super Bowl games that draw millions of viewers from across the world every year. It’s also no secret, however, that football is one of the most dangerous sports to play. Across the high school, collegiate, and professional level, football-related injuries are not uncommon, with head traumas accounting for a large percentage of those injuries. Last year, in the NFL alone, there were over 200 concussions reported. A study done by the American Academy of Neurology also found that “more than 40 percent of retired National Football League players had signs of traumatic brain injury based on sensitive MRI scans” (www.washingtonpost.com). This begs the question: should the NFL be doing more to protect players from head trauma injuries? While head injuries in the NFL have always been a topic of discussion, the news of Aaron Hernandez, former star tight end for the New England Patriots, was found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. This event sparked national controversy on the safety of players. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a degenerative disorder believed to be caused by repeated trauma to the head. Unfortunately, this disease is not diagnosable until an autopsy in the deceased. Hernandez, unfortunately, was not the only one. A recent study done on over 200 deceased brains of former football players across all levels found a substantial percent of CTE. In former NFL players included in this study, 110 out of 111, a whopping 99%, were diagnosed with CTE. With more and more evidence coming out that multiple concussions are the most prominent risk factor for developing CTE, it is clear that NFL players are at a huge risk for developing this life-threatening disease. While concussion protocol in the NFL has come a long way in recent years, it is clear that these efforts can only go so far in protecting players from the risk of traumatic brain injuries. The NFL now allows a neurologist on the sidelines at each game that can assess and prevent any player from going back out on to the field if they believe they have been subject to some kind of brain trauma. The NFL also has implemented a strict protocol for players who are assessed and confirmed to have a concussion that does not allow them to go back out on the field the same day. While this was implemented years ago, it wasn’t until the 2016 season that the NFL enforced disciplinary actions...

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Why I believe that it is important to stand by the American flag
Oct13

Why I believe that it is important to stand by the American flag

I stand for the flag because the world is a better place with America, and I believe that is worth honoring. The NFL 2017 season has been defined by players taking a knee during the National Anthem, which has led to controversy, intense media coverage, and even social media hashtags. These players are taking a knee to protest racially-targeted police brutality and general racial inequality in America. While their points are valid, kneeling before the anthem not only harms their message, but is insensitive to the meaning of our flag. Over the years, America has achieved many things. In 1776, thirteen colonies signed the Declaration of Independence, declaring America free from British rule. In 1863, President Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation that eventually freed more than four million slaves. In 1920, women were granted the right to vote. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act declared segregation illegal. In 1969, the first man walked on the moon. In 2008, the American people elected the first African-American president. Because of these accomplishments and so many more, I am going to continue standing for the flag. I like how USA Today writer, Martin Dempsey, states it. “We do so not because we agree with everything America has done, or everything that has been done in America’s name, but because despite all of that the world is a better place because America exists.” America has various moments that she’s not proud of, but there are many moments to be proud of. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, there are 1.3 million active-duty personnel in the U.S. military and an additional 800,000 in reserves. The military is a volunteer program. That means that 1.3 million Americans volunteered to be a part of an organization, where they risk their lives for their country. They are not denying America’s mistakes and wrongs with blind patriotism. Instead, they have chosen to defend the rights. These rights are worth honoring. Growing up in a military town, I’ve seen firsthand the struggles that soldiers and their families endure. The military lifestyle is not for everyone. I’ve grown close with church friends, only for them to leave when their mom or dad is reassigned to another base. Recently, the cousin of a friend from high school disappeared while actively serving his country, and I watched my friend and his family honor his sacrifice and heroism. When I see the flag, I think of my family members who have served, I think of my friends, and I think of veterans who served in World War II and subsequent wars. And I think of America’s rights and future rights. America’s wrongs can’t be fixed...

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Should certain books be censored in schools?
Sep28

Should certain books be censored in schools?

The Great Gatsby. Lord of the Flies. The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin. When you hear these titles, what do you think of? Chances are you either recognize these titles as classic literature or you read these books in some sort of English class. These books really helped shape our society However, these books, along with many others, are most frequently added to the banned books lists at schools. Most classic American literature was written during a significant time in history in the United States. For example, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was written during the Jim Crow era. This era was by no means a proud moment of America, but it was significant to our history. However, this book is commonly banned by schools. Yes, there is language that might be considered offensive. Yes, there are racial slurs. This is by no means excused, but it was the language of the author’s surroundings.. If that language was taken out, it could change the depiction of America from that era. If the racial slurs were taken out, the book would no longer be historically accurate. When a book like this is banned, it’s like administrations are trying to shelter students from the harsh reality that is America’s history. According to an article from USA Today by Heather Wines regarding challenged books, the main reason that books are challenged is because of sexually explicit content. While this makes sense, most classic novels do not have explicit sex scenes. Most of the time things such as prostitutes are mentioned but it doesn’t go into great detail about what really happens. In Wines’ article, violence, racism, and vulgar language were also mentioned as common reasons that books are banned. Although these are good reasons, you have to look at the big picture. These students should be old enough to understand that vulgar language does exist. They should also be able to recognize that sometimes this an author’s use of vulgar language is necessary to maintain some realistic accuracy in the book. These students also need to realize that racism was a huge part of our history, and arguably still is. Violent acts are often necessary to the plot of the novel or aren’t offensive enough to cause concern. Am I saying that a second-grade should read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck? No, I am not. I am saying that this novel should be acceptable for high school students to read and understand. Classic literature should not be allowed on the banned books list. This literature helped shape America. This literature portrays fictional accounts about real historical events. These are the...

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Convenience comes at a price
Sep28

Convenience comes at a price

Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are available at any time with just a click of a button. Pull out your headphones, plug it into your phone, and watch a wide assortment of movies anywhere you go. Now, think of this – the smell of popcorn and sweet candy filling the air. Movies, hundreds upon hundreds of selections, able to please just about anyone, sitting on shelves on every corner and spare inch of the room walls. The moment you step into this atmosphere, you get the complete movie experience. Unfortunately, this has been stripped from us, and so soon. Millennials have never really had a chance to walk inside a Blockbuster. I feel that it is too convenient and easy for us to get entertainment. It’s not just movies. It’s really any form of retail. Bookstores and mom and pop shops are closing, as are large stores such as JCPenny, which plans on terminating 14% of its stores this year alone (Bankrate.com). Why go somewhere to buy something when you can easily get it online? Yes, there are positive attributes to online shopping. Items are often cheaper online, especially with Amazon Prime. Avoiding lines and crowds is also great. And who doesn’t want a large variety of items? Which brings me back to my main point – easy accessibility. How does living off of convenience reflect a society’s values? We can sit on the sofa comfortably, buying to our hearts content and watching Netflix until the sun sets, but there is a cost. With fewer people buying their items at stores and relying on technology to fulfill their orders or desires, brick and mortars are at risk of shutting down. Jobs are also lost at corporations that close as a result. One store that I’m incredibly sad about that went out of business is Family Christian, which has been around for 85 years. They closed 240 of their shops, letting go of around 3,000 people who are unemployed – due to consumers and their desire for convenience (USA Today). I have fond memories of Family Christian, one being my mom taking me there after coming home for the weekend during my freshman year. We saw all of the encouraging Bible verses on the décor and felt a sense of happiness that we could spend some time together before I had to head back to college. No matter how hard you try, you can’t have memorable experiences on online stores. The same goes for Blockbuster. I went there many times as a child and had fun looking at all the different types of movies upon the shelves as my father,...

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Big chain vs Local beanery – which is better?
Sep28

Big chain vs Local beanery – which is better?

While getting coffee with some friends, I noticed there were advocates for both the global chains and the local establishments. I wanted to take a deeper look into what decisions we all have to make before deciding which coffee place to choose. Whether we are visiting the world’s largest coffee brand or a local beanery, it is safe to say everyone has their own unique opinion. Starbucks, for example, is a well-known brand with almost 24,000 locations around the globe. The coffee chain is clearly a contender for best coffee shop no matter the location. But if you’re looking for a great local beanery, you can’t forget about an equally important contender, Arusha’s Coffee and Tea. First impressions mean everything to a newcomer. Returning customers will always come back for the experience and atmosphere. Customers know what to expect from Starbucks – free high-speed internet and Wi-Fi. Most Starbucks work at a very fast-pace, making personal interactions unlikely. Some customers would even argue Starbucks is losing its edge because of how commonly they are found. Arusha’s is a stylish coffee house serving beverages in an inviting space. They offer something unique to the general public in order to keep guests circulating in and out. “Arusha’s is a one-of-a-kind coffee shop,” said former Arusha’s employee Emily Maulding. “Their extensive menu has something for everybody. They connect well with their community.” First comes the aroma of coffee, but then, the moment of truth – the taste. Starbucks sources, roasts, and delivers the highest quality coffee in the world. They aim for a consistent blend with every visit. They follow strict measurements with certain ingredients on a regular basis. “It’s exactly the same no matter where I travel in the world,” said Starbucks enthusiast Erin Atchley. “I ordered my usual when I traveled to Barcelona, Spain and it tasted exactly the same as it had in the states.” Before stepping foot into a local coffee shop, customers can expect paying anywhere from $3.50-$5.00 for a drink. Contrary to popular belief, Starbucks charges similar prices. The difference comes into play when the same dollar amount goes back to the community rather than the global scope. The ability to use Cru Cash as a student is also an advantage. I come from a huge city where global chains overshadow local businesses. Now that I live in a small town for college, I am surrounded by lots of small businesses. So, I almost feel obligated to try every little establishment until I have conquered them all. However, I will confess I give in to the global establishment more often than I should. Maybe one day...

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