June 8, 2014
(Arlington Heights) Daily Herald
Our editorial message for graduates: Be kind
From our vantage point, it's hard to remember exactly what graduation felt like. Alas, the years take a harsh toll even on the sacred benchmarks of our lives.
But we still feel a sense of the relief, the exhilaration, the expectation and, possibly, the tad bit of trepidation.
Quite a good deal of inspiration and advice for graduates echoes across those commencements: Make the most of your lives. Seize the day. Believe in yourselves. Improve the world. Don't place limits on yourself. Think about what really constitutes success. Remember your roots.
All wonderful and valuable messages. What could we possibly add to them?
Just this: Be kind.
You don't have to look too far to find instances of meanness, pettiness, vindictiveness. They're not just prevalent in our world. They're prevalent in our daily lives. Probably none of us gets through a day without observing, suffering or committing meanness in some way.
We come across it in traffic, at the supermarket checkout line, in the workplace, in hurtful humor and political banter. It's everywhere.
Our lives ought not to be about us against them. They ought to just be about all of us. Each of us is here for only a short time, each with the same fragile vulnerabilities, the same mortality.
As you live each day, try to remember that.
Try to remember these words, attributed to Mother Teresa:
"People are often unreasonable, irrational and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
"If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
"If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
"If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
"What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
"If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway."
"The good you do today will often be forgotten. Be good anyway.
"Give the best you have and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
"In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."
June 8, 2014
The (Alton) Telegraph
Schools need tools to combat growing menace
Too many children get a lesson in school that doesn't belong: how being different can make them a target.
These are the estimated half of students in Illinois who say they are verbally abused or the one in four who report being physically harassed and even assaulted.
They are the often-silent victims of bullying.
It's an epidemic that is not unique to most generations. There have always been the kids who dress differently, who express viewpoints outside of the "accepted" norm or whose physical stature puts them for some reason in the crosshairs of those who feel a need to claim superiority.
In years past, it was called "picking" on someone and was often dismissed with trite phrases such as "tell them to stop" or "stand up for yourself." To others, it was a rite of passage that "made you stronger."
Nonsense. It is demoralizing, counter-productive to learning and should not be tolerated in any environment.
The importance of parental involvement cannot be understated. Children learn from the lessons imparted at home. Teachers and administrators should not be expected to try to assume those responsibilities. However, they are a crucial first defense against bullying in schools.
A lot of schools in Illinois are hampered by bureaucracy and a lack of policies and guidelines, though.
That's why it's imperative the governor signs House Bill 5707, which sits among the stack of legislation awaiting review. The bill would put more power in the hands of school officials to be able to intervene when there is a problem.
The bill would detail the appropriate interaction between school officials and parents and also direct school districts to keep statistics on the extent of bullying.
Knowing the extent of the problem is an important first step.
Giving the mechanisms and the tools to stop bullying is just as critical a component in preventing it.
June 8, 2014
Rockford Register Star
Kudos to Winnebago County deputies for carrying heroin overdose meds
It's no longer the stereotypical junkie who uses heroin — it has become the drug of choice by too many of our friends and neighbors.
The drug is cheap and accessible. Today's version of heroin is so pure it can be snorted, which makes it appealing to those who are afraid of needles.
With increased use comes increased incidents of overdose and death. The situation is dire in Winnebago County, where 51 of the 124 overdose deaths last year were attributed to heroin or a combination of heroin and cocaine. Seven years ago, there were 37 total overdose deaths. The situation has reached near epidemic proportions elsewhere in the country.
Law enforcement and emergency medical services personnel around the country are beginning to carry an antidote for a heroin overdose — Narcan, the brand name for the opiate antidote naloxone. Soon, the life-saving medicine will be in the hands of Winnebago County deputies.
Monday and Wednesday, OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center personnel will teach the Sheriff's Department's 100-plus deputies how to administer the drug.
Almost anyone can be trained to use the antidote in 15 minutes or less. Narcan can be injected into muscle or sprayed up the nose and literally can bring a person back from the brink of death. It can reverse a heroin overdose in one to three minutes, precious time when a person's life is at stake.
Kudos to Winnebago County Sheriff Dick Meyers for initiating the Narcan program. After learning about how bad the situation here was, Meyers did some research, talked to officials in DuPage County, where deputies carry and administer Narcan, and worked with local health care officials to implement a program.
Meyers said other regional law enforcement agencies are participating. Rockford's firefighters and paramedics already carry the drug.
Having Narcan on hand will save lives and give users a second chance.
June 4, 2014
Illinois has to change or keep losing people
For an area that prides itself on welcoming the military, a poll that ranks Illinois as one of the least desirable locales for military retirees stings.
Local military families do appreciate our friendliness, but other factors are a drag on the state. This poll should help jolt leaders into doing something about the complaints. Obviously some things like the weather can't be changed but they can address other concerns high on the list like high taxes and a lack of jobs.
Heard those complaints before? These are issues not only for military retirees but for many businesses and individuals.Illinois has the second highest property taxes in the nation, and some of the highest sales taxes.
Politicians think it's no big deal to add to them -- the cost of a pizza or a night out at the movies, we're told. But as this poll reminds us, taxes are a big deal indeed. They are especially noticed by people who have lived in other places and know this isn't the norm.
High taxes are part of the reason that Illinois has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Businesses don't want to locate here. When a business has to cut costs, it reorganizes and consolidates.
Illinois leaders have not had the political will to streamline the state's 7,000 units of government. Consolidation would reduce the costs of such a fragmented system. Until Illinois finds ways to cut costs and operate more efficiently, the state is going to remain at or near the bottom of everyone's list.