Proposed encouragement, yes! Indiscriminate discouragement, never!
by Bob Stealey

    Today, yet another “bee in my beanie,” as this amateur psychologist — his only text is hopefully the unwritten book of common sense — once again slowly ascends his sporadic soapbox.
    Self-esteem. What is it? The Tenth Edition of Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary lists  two definitions for it. I believe that the first one is the right one, but the second one is the one that tends to confuse so many people.
So here it is: 1. “A confidence and satisfaction in onesself; self-respect. 2. Self-conceit.” Therein lies the basis for this particular column. Self-conceit is the extreme degree of my subject  here.
    To me, self-esteem is one of those concepts in life that vary by degree. Depending upon the individual, too little self-esteem can be every bit as dangerous as too much of it. In fact, in the case of some individuals, a lack of it can be more dangerous.
    When I say “too much of it,” I’m referring to those who are constantly traveling — on an ego trip that’s overbearing to others — but I’m not referring to people who emit a refreshing awareness of their abilities and skills. That doesn’t make one a “know-it-all,” but instead it commands a healthy respect from those with whom he or she communicates with every day.
    Conversely, too little of it can ultimately result in tragic consequences — too unthinkable to describe here. What’s important to realize is that an individual is never born with a lack of self-esteem, but may all too quickly learn all kinds of self-doubts. It isn’t until after a child’s first  couple years of life that others can tell whether or not that child has been nurtured to “go for the gusto” — or whether the child is being held back by a parent or by someone else very influential in his life, for whatever strange reason that might be.
    Again, here I am, a layman, pontificating over something he has never been taught in school or college. (Only what seems to make sense to the unlearned mind.)
    In short, self-esteem is a learned quality in a person, not an innate one. I hope that in raising my own three sons a few years ago that, for my own part, I never limited them in their dreams and aspirations. I was never afraid that I’d be creating a trio of egomaniacs simply by  refusing to confine their idealism.
    There are probably some who would differ greatly with me on this point, and that’s fine. Yet, although I don’t always practice the following truism, I do somehow tend to believe it’s true: “The greatest limit a person has on himself is the belief that he must have limits.”
    The bottom line is that a limit-free philosophy is like a freeway that seems to go on forever, but an ever-limiting set of beliefs is nothing more than a cul de sac — an abrupt dead-end.
    Holding in the reins too tightly on a person in his formative years can cause an ugly emotional scar — one that’s permanently visible on the personality.
    Made to perpetually hesitate in self-doubt keeps a person from being assertive and confident in a constructive way. It can easily lead that person to be constantly used and abused. It’s the stuff that victims are made of.
    Sincere encouragement is the best medicine you can give to someone. But the worst poison is to indiscriminately discourage someone. It’s a sign of fear and lack of faith — in God and in the person in question.
    I believe that to “Gaslight” a  person serves nobody.

On Friday, Bob’n’Along will feature something not nearly so heavy. I promise.



State has moved too slowly on Waldo safety issue

    We’re all for due process, but the fact that the Waldo Complex remains open to renters despite having 30 fire code violations is bordering on negligence on the part of the state.
    State Fire Marshal Walter Smittle issued an order in June of 1998 that the building must be either brought up to code or shut down.
    Owners David and Suzanne Arnett originally appealed the order but dropped the appeal in November. Still, the Waldo remains open and has anywhere from five to 10 renters.
    That’s because the state fire marshal’s office hasn’t filed the necessary petition with the Harrison County Circuit Court that would force the Waldo’s owners to either repair the 30 violations or close the building. Smittle says his office’s attorney has been busy representing other state agencies and has also been ill.
    But, Smittle also says that whether the petition has been filed or not, the building is unsafe for habitation. He says people still living in the Waldo should find another place to live as soon as possible. “If it wasn’t dangerous I wouldn’t have issued the order,” Smittle said.
    If the Waldo is unsafe, then the owners must be forced to either fix it or shut it down. And it shouldn’t take nearly a year.
State and county officials need to act judiciously. But, when safety is an issue, they need to act a little quicker.

Today’s editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial board, which includes William J. Sedivy, John G. Miller, Julie R. Cryser, James Logue, Kevin Courtney and Cecil Jarvis.



America: U.N. ruler or deadbeat to the world?

    America owes $1.7 billion in unpaid dues to the United Nations. Out of 185 U.N. member nations, 117 paid their dues on time last year.
    Ironically, America as the world’s wealthiest nation is also the largest deadbeat. Woodrow Wilson must be turning over in his grave. It is a shameless act and our congressional leaders must allocate the funds to fulfill our commitments to the U.N. without any strings attached.
    It is not because America cannot pay its dues. Our nation is in the midst of the largest economic expansion since World War II, and for the first time in over 70 years we are experiencing budget surpluses. We are not paying our dues because we do not want to. We cannot get our way on some U.N. policies, so we withhold funding. It is all about politics.
    It is a shameless attempt to hold the United Nations hostage. America wants to live by the Golden Rule: “The one with the gold makes the rules.” It is a policy that will no doubt come back to slap us in the face.
    This month, seven former secretaries of state from the Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations sent a letter to Congress saying that America “is squandering its moral authority” by failing to pay its U.N. delinquency.
“It is simply unacceptable that the richest nation on earth is also the biggest debtor to the United Nations,” said the letter, which was published as an ad in several U.S. newspapers.
    The U.N. administrator says America must pay at least $250 million of its delinquency in 1999 or lose its vote in the General Assembly.
    Imagine the irony of a U.N. General Assembly motion to lift the trade embargo on Iraq, taking place at the U.N. headquarters in New York City, and the United States not even being allowed to vote. Or a U.N. Security Council motion that impacts the role of peacekeeping forces in Bosnia that impacts the outcome of the crisis in Kosovo, and our military leaders have no input.
    It is outrageous that America is the top deadbeat in the community of nations. It is ironic we are so quick to fill the role of police force to the world, but we fail to pay our own dues. It is simply un-American. It is time to pay up and act like a world leader again.

Andy Kniceley
Telegram Editorial Board member



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