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.

Saviors for hire

Nobody wants to do what is necessary to stop the world’s worst conflicts. These days, it’s popular to talk about ending genocide in Sudan or rescuing child soldiers in Uganda. United Nations bureaucrats talk of peace through endless “conferences.” Facebook groups urging an “end” to the latest atrocity make people feel better by signing up. Little is accomplished. Wars continue, families still die, and children still fight. There is one way to end much of it. It is not popular, politically correct, or good for Facebook groups. But it works, and it has been done before. Elizabeth Rubin, contributing writer for the New York Times, documented the stunning course of a civil war that tore apart the coastal African nation of Sierra Leone from 1991 to 1995. A nasty group of rebels known as the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) threatened to overrun the country. Composed partly of drugged-up child soldiers, the RUF took particular delight in chopping off the limbs and genitals of civilians they came across. Often they would amputate the breasts of nursing mothers or smash their kneecaps with hammers. As the homicidal rebels approached the capital of Freetown, help seemed impossible. The UN and powerful nations eagerly sent promises, “concerns,” and platitudes, but no troops. So the president of Sierra Leone turned in desperation to his last resort. He contacted a private security company called “Executive Outcomes (EO),” composed mostly of former South African special forces soldiers. For $15 million and diamond mining concessions, EO agreed to do what the UN would not: rid Sierra Leone of the psychotic arm-choppers. Against a rebel force numbering in the thousands, EO deployed 300 elite soldiers and a helicopter gunship. Within a month, they had almost completely driven the RUF from Sierra Leone. No more limbs were chopped off or children abducted. The country held its first presidential elections in almost 30 years. In some villages, people lined the streets to cheer these “mercenaries” who stopped the carnage. Unfortunately, it did not last, as the UN and the World Bank ordered Sierra Leone to cancel its contract with Executive Outcomes. When the mercenaries left, the rebels returned. Only this time, they took over the country and inaugurated a reign of terror. Sierra Leone should serve as a lesson. When genocide, civil war, or limb-chopping happens, the solution is not to negotiate, hold conferences or sell T-shirts. The best, most effective response is overwhelming military force. Because the president of Sierra Leone knew that, 300 mercenaries did in a month what the UN, the “international community,” and every advocacy group on the planet could not. Had Executive Outcomes been allowed...

Read More
Early marriages unwise, harmful
Dec09

Early marriages unwise, harmful

It seems that more and more people are getting married at a young age lately. This is a bad idea. People have their whole lives ahead of them, and yet they decide at the tender age of 19 that they have found “the one.” Nonsense. At this age, most people have so much more growing up to do that there is no way they can handle marriage. This commitment is the mother of all commitments. It’s not one that should be taken lightly, and young people often don’t realize the seriousness of it. Where are the parents in all this? One would think that they would have some sort of say in the whole matter, that they wouldn’t let their child fall into something that is almost sure to fail. Almost 50% of all marriages in the country end in divorce, and the younger couples are, the more likely they are to separate. So what is the rush? Why do young people who “think” they are so madly in love feel the need to tie the knot so early? Infatuation. Everyone has fallen victim to it at some point. It’s the feeling that comes over people when relationships first begin. Everything is butterflies and hearts, and it seems as if nothing could possibly go wrong. Both people are bright eyed and bushy tailed over one another and can’t seem to get enough of one another. It’s at this point when couples believe there is no one else for them and they have found that special person. For some reason, people think this is the best time to decide they want to marry, which could not be a more terrible decision. Infatuation is only temporary. Around six to eight months is when couples start having serious issues: Is he spending too much time with his friends? Are they spending too much time with each other? Arguments will often happen over the silliest of things. It is about this time when they start to see the real person they have been dating, and the “newness” of the relationship ceases to exist. At this time, they must step back and ask themselves a few questions: Am I willing to work through these issues we are having, and do I really want to continue down this path with this person? Unfortunately, for some people, it is too late. They’ve already taken the plunge into marriage, and they’re stuck in a downward spiral that ends in divorce. This tragedy can be easily avoided with a simple, yet often overlooked solution. Wait. Wait until you’re at least 30 years old to marry. By then, the...

Read More
GOP gets bad rap: Republican Party unfairly cast as racist
Nov18

GOP gets bad rap: Republican Party unfairly cast as racist

Abraham Lincoln was a racist. Well, actually, he was a Republican, which to some means the same thing. It is accepted as truth by many that the Republican Party is the refuge of bigots and racists, while the Democratic Party is hailed as the champion of black Americans, especially with Barack Obama’s election. However, Republicans have historically been strong proponents of black advancement in America, and accepted truths to the contrary, they still are. From its beginning, the Republican Party stood to liberate black Americans from the oppression of slavery and racism. Lincoln, the first Republican president, secured freedom for black slaves, and many other Republicans after him continued in the same spirit. Ulysses S. Grant, who defeated the Confederacy, signed the first anti-Ku Klux Klan legislation as president. Jeremiah Haralson, Jefferson Long and other black Americans rose to be elected to Congress after the Civil War as Republicans. A Republican congress passed the Civil Rights Bill of 1866 over the veto of Democratic president Andrew Johnson and drafted the 14th Amendment, which guaranteed citizenship to black Americans. In 1964, a greater percentage of congressional Republicans than Democrats voted for the Civil Rights Act, and in 1966 Edward Brooke, a Republican, became the first elected black senator. Clarence Thomas, currently the only black Supreme Court justice, was appointed by President George H.W. Bush. General Colin Powell became the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appointed to the office by president Ronald Reagan. He became the first black secretary of state during President George W. Bush’s first term, and after his retirement, Condoleeza Rice took his place, the first black woman to hold the office. Despite this storied history, most black Americans today are Democrats. This may have to do with the fact that Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and he had much more national visibility than the Republican congressmen who joined him. While it’s true that today there are no black Republican congressmen or senators, that has more to do with demographics than anything else. If, as some surveys show, up to 90% of black Americans identify themselves as Democrats, there simply aren’t that many black Republicans to run. When they have, however, Republican voters have enthusiastically supported them. Former congressman J.C. Watts Jr, was elected as a Republican to four terms in Congress by voters in Oklahoma, an extremely white, Republican state. Lt. Governor Michael Steele of Maryland, a black Republican, ran unsuccessfully for one of the state’s senate seats in 2004, but he did receive the overwhelming majority of Republican votes. Fortunately, even some Democrats are beginning...

Read More
More stuff won’t satisfy
Nov18

More stuff won’t satisfy

By Laura Beth Gebhardt Satisfaction does not exist in today’s society. There is always something better to work for, to obtain. The latest Ipod, the bigger plasma TV and the faster car are a few of these things. This constant desire for more leaves people constantly unsatisfied. This need for more is taught as early as childhood. Something as simple as watching Disney movies influences the way children think. Belle was discontent with her simple farm life, and longed for adventure. Ariel wanted the one thing she couldn’t have, the life and love of a human. She became so unsatisfied with living under the sea that she risked everything to get it. Jasmine was a princess who lived in luxury and yet wanted nothing more than to be the common person. Aladdin was the everyday man who looked up at Jasmine in envy. He longed for the life she lived. This idea carries on to people’s everyday life. If a people have curly hair, they want straight hair. If people have a car from the year 2005 they want the one from 2008. People become obsessed with getting the latest and greatest, but it never satisfies. People look at the lives of movie stars and long to have what they have, but those stars’ suicides, drug addictions, alcoholic tendencies and depression prove that possessions do not bring happiness. Ezekiel 7:19 says that in the end, gold and silver and all the things people have accumulated will be worthless, because material possessions will not save from God’s wrath. They are wholly insufficient. The one time that being unsatisfied is a good thing is in one’s relationship with Christ. He created people in a way that leaves them in constant hunger for Him. This leaves believers constantly striving for more, yet fulfilled in Him. Psalm 17:15 says, “Because I am righteous, I will see you. When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.” The love of God is the only thing that brings true...

Read More
Facebook insanity: Election-related Facebook statuses dredge up hurtful topics, ignore national progress
Nov18

Facebook insanity: Election-related Facebook statuses dredge up hurtful topics, ignore national progress

Let me preface the following statements by admitting to being a strong advocate of the Republican Party during this last election. While disappointed about the final results, there are limits to expressing these feelings and emotions to the general public. Sadly, many people have crossed this line—on both sides. While Facebook statuses are great ways of revealing emotions and thoughts of friends, it has been taken to the extreme. It now blasphemes, ridicules, belittles and annoys others and their politics. Why are Facebook wars necessary? Can these things not be civilly discussed in person? I have many friends who voted for Obama. While we disagreed on several levels, we had many enlightening conversations without raising our voices or calling people names that should not be repeated in public. Doing these things in private with trusted friends can be acceptable. However, the line is drawn when opinions are made to purposefully ridicule and demean others to prove oneself, or one’s opinions, better. If you cannot say it without yelling, can it really stand on its own? Why is it that race is still a factor when the truly important issues are in a person’s credentials, experience and moral issues? I have a problem with some of these qualifying factors, but race has no place in deciding elections. The only time it should arise is during an attempt to eliminate racist behaviors. People should not cast racial judgments. Many racist jokes or slurs have been made, but it really only makes those people look like loud, pigheaded jerks. On the flip side, many people voted solely on basis of the pigment of the candidates’ skin. While it makes history, it will make no other trivial difference. Racist issues still exist, but it is a dying factor that belongs to people who cannot think outside their little box. One of the benefits of this election was that Obama is this nation’s first black president. This is a truly amazing feat, considering the segregation issues that were considered normal and acceptable less than a century ago. Another important result was the rise in voting turn-outs across the nation. The final turn-out of voters went from 55.3 percent in the 2004 election to 64.1 percent in 2008. While I actually like some of the words President Bush created, it irritated many. Now we won’t have to worry about listening to comedians mock the president’s latest verbal mishap. With Obama in office, the nation can also enjoy an eloquent State of the Union Address every year. Most importantly, there will no longer be any argument as to how the word “nuclear” should be pronounced. The...

Read More

Corporate corruption hurting us all

By Jordan Gustin Here’s a riddle. How does Congress solve a problem in America? They throw taxpayer money at it and hope it sticks. Since a riddle is a solution shrouded in a mystery, this answer wasn’t much of a riddle. Congress’ nonchalant mismanagement of our money has long been known. They explain their reason for spending during times when saving is needed, but even the blind could see right past the greed and corruption that grins beneath. When a CEO is laid off due to corruption in a corporate scandal, no one is surprised. When a congressman is put on trial for accepting gifts and is found guilty, no one is shocked. So why does everyone allow these CEOs and congressmen to handle their money and spend it freely? It happens because of the corrupt mindset most people unknowingly accept growing up. From a young age, Americans are taught that if they become very rich, they have a right to hoard all of that money for themselves. They’ve earned it. We reward wealth in America. The problem is that most of the rich people in our country haven’t worked very hard to get it. Why is it that we praise our teachers, police officers, fire fighters and military personnel as heroes but pay them next to nothing? Why allow our least respected paper-pushers and money-manipulators to make more money than anyone else simply by “knowing people who know people?” Haven’t the real heroes earned more than just respect? Something is very wrong with this picture. It’s time for a change. Democrats and Republicans alike have caused this problem. Corporate giants have paid our congressmen and congresswomen copious amounts of cash to vote in their favor. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were doing this for more than 10 years until they were taken over by the Federal Reserve in September along with other companies. Then the issue of a bailout came up. Once again, Congress predictably infused cash into the bloodstream of the problem — $800 billion (and counting) to be precise. In the process of deciding whether or not to pass the bailout, Congress uncovered some shady characters. Take for example Richard Fuld, former CEO of Lehman Brothers, who knew his company was going bankrupt and still decided to keep $480 million plus additional payouts. Still living in a $14 million oceanfront villa with a million-dollar art collection, he complained to Congress that he didn’t get any severance pay and that he lost more than $10 million. Congressman Waxman set Fuld straight by reminding everyone, “You made all this money taking risks with other people’s money.” So why...

Read More
Page 57 of 59« First...102030...5556575859