Statewide Adverstising

Elizabeth Reishus

Hope for healing

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Why do you suppose the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press are in the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution? Because words are powerful.

We teach it to children in anti-bullying curriculum. Words can hurt.

Innocent people in Arizona are dead because a man entered a crowd and started shooting.

Talking heads on television and disembodied voices on the radio are arguing over whether this was just one crazy guy who acted alone or he was driven to this act by politicians and media personalities. I don’t know because all the facts have not been gathered.

But if it is true that this man was driven to violence because of fear and anger stirred up by politicians and media personalities, I would not be shocked. What we say matters. And people who have access to the media due to position or personality must watch what they say.

Words hurt. Let us hope words can also heal.

This year, let us all resolve to use kind words, to think before we speak, and to use our inside voices.

I close with part of my favorite hymns by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller.

Let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment now. With every step I take let this be my solemn vow: To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally. Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.

Take stock of what you have

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Hey, that would make a good column! It’s a phrase I hear often. And it is usually true.

During a recent trip to Jerry’s Home Quality Foods, I ran into Carol Hed. Somehow we got to talking about the amount of stuff people accumulate versus what we really need. How this came up at the grocery store, I’m not sure, but that is the fun of talking to Mrs. Hed, you just never know what will come up next!

Carol’s son took a trip to Mount Kilimanjaro. The happiest people he met where not the fellow tourists, but the natives who were their guides.People who seemed to have nothing were happier than those who seemed to have everything. She said, “Hey that could be a column.” And she is right.

The first of the year is a time to take stock of who you are and what you have.

After you have unwrapped all your gifts, take a good look around. Chances are you received things you wanted, but not things you needed. (Except in the case of my sisters-in-law who received wine. One is an at-home mom and one works at a prison. Enough said.)

Now is the time to purge. Rid your home of the stuff you don’t need. The basic rule of thumb is ask yourself three questions: Is it useful? Is it beautiful? Do you love it? If not, get rid of it. Re-purpose it, donate it, or give it to someone who will use it or love it.

Once you have learned to let things go, you can learn to live with less. And as any good designer will tell you, less is more.

Bear with me

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Is it possible I am part bear? Every fall I get the urge to eat a lot and take a nap until spring. Am I alone in this? Are there others like me?

Each December I also get the urge to Christmas shop. I am not a person who buys a lot of gifts or extravagant gifts, but I love the hunt.

Like the bear who searches the forest for little tasty berries, I look through the thrift shops and retail shops for the right little treat for someone.

I do not always succeed. Like the year I tried to decorate some shoes for my sister. I thought they would look funky, but they just turned out ugly. There is a fine line between funky and ugly, but that line was clearly crossed.

Finding the right gift for my dad poses a problem because I don’t fish. I never know what gear he needs because I am not with him on these trips; and I don’t understand what most of the gear actually does.

Furthermore, he is so creative that he often devises his own specialty tools and gear. He once made an ice fishing tip-up out of ice cream pail lids and a few other scraps around the garage. Don’t ask. I cannot explain it any better than that.

Luckily, Dad likes salted nut rolls to take fishing, so I have a fall-back if I don’t know what to get him.

This year, I found the perfect thing: candy from the Girl Scouts! Didn’t even have to leave the comfort of my own home. Which is great—it leaves me more time for napping.

My answers to Pastor Hinz’s questions and some clarifications

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

I am not in the habit of addressing one person in such a public fashion, but I feel I ought answer the questions publically directed at me by Rev. Hinz and clarify a few points.

First of all, my column was not directed solely at Rev. Hinz and his column. I apologize if he felt singled out.

I did not, as Rev. Hinz states, assert that we live in a purely secular nation. Nor I did not state that we must divorce morality from law. I said we must continue to keep religion and government separate. One can be moral without subscribing to a religion. And one can claim a religion without being moral. Adolf Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf, “I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.”

Rev. Hinz also stated that there is no right to marriage enumerated in our national or state Constitutions and therefore I am not allowed to call it a right. “Perhaps Liz would be willing to state specifically what civil right she is referring to,” wrote Hinz.

Here is my answer: I need not assert that marriage is a “right;” the Supreme Court did that for me.
In 1942 The Supreme Court of the United State of America unanimously ruled that the act of marriage was a fundamental right even though it is not in the Constitution. (Skinner V Oklahoma) In 1967 (Loving v Virginia) The SCOTUS declared “Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man.”

Rev. Hinz argues that, “…marriage is also a matter regulated for the public good.”

There is no public good served by limiting marriage to opposite-sex  couples only. In his 1998 decision Alaska Superior Court Judge Peter A. Michalski stated that “marriage…is a fundamental right. The state must therefore have a compelling interest that supports its decision to refuse to recognize the exercise of this fundamental right by those who choose same-sex partners rather than opposite-sex partners.” (Brause v Alaska) Such compelling interest does not exist. The medical and psychiatric communities agree that homosexuality is not a threat to our society. It is not a sickness or a choice.

Rev. Hinz wrote, “If she (myself) would like to have the State’s criteria—the State’s definition of marriage— changed from the one man/one woman definition is has been since the founding of our nation to something else, she has every right to advocate for such a change.”
Minnesota’s definition of marriage and the nation’s definition of marriage have not always been one man/one woman. The In Defense of Marriage Act was passed in 1996—not 1776. The Minnesota State Supreme Court declared that “one man/one woman” was the definition of marriage in 1971. Until that time, it was simply assumed.

In the Brause case, Judge Michalski also stated, “It is the duty of the court to more than merely assume that marriage is only, and must only be what most are familiar with. In some parts of our nation mere acceptance of the familiar would have left segregation in place.”

Indeed, Judge Michalski is correct. Despite the 1967 Supreme Court ruling in Loving, the state of Alabama did not repeal its last law against mixed-race marriage until 2000.

A response to my column

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

This is a re-print of a letter from a local pastor inresponse to my column last week.

To the Editor:

As a Christian pastor I don’t normally “talk back” to the one who speaks “From On High” but in this case I think I’ll “chance it” as a bit of clarification is in order.

In last week’s “The Word from on High (Avenue)” column it appears that Liz Reishus took issue with my statement (and the statement of the Catholic Church) that the novelty called “same-sex marriage” is NOT a civil rights issue.

Perhaps Liz would be willing to state specifically what civil right she is referring to. Where in the Constitution (either State or Federal) is marriage enumerated as “a right” that the State must guarantee to any two people who claim it? As I read our Constitution there is no such right nor does the fact that the State regulates marriage elevate it to that status. For example, the fact that the State regulates the licensing of drivers does not obligate the State to award such licenses to anyone who asks for one. Such applicants must first meet the criteria (age, training, eye sight, etc.) established by the State in order to quality for such a license. It’s a matter of the public good…of public safety. Similarly, marriage is also a matter regulated for the public good.

If she would like to have the State’s criteria – the State’s definition of marriage – changed from the one man/one woman definition is has been since the founding of our nation to something else, she has every right to advocate for such a change. What she is not allowed to do is claim such a change as “a right” – as something the State is obligated to do.

As much as Liz would like to assert, and does assert, that we live in a purely secular nation…governed by purely secular laws – laws which have no moral quality to them…which do not attempt to judge between right and wrong (that’s what a moral judgment is), the simple fact is that ALL our laws are based on moral judgments. That is, all our laws are based on the moral judgments of the people as enacted through the democratic process…the moral judgments of the people as formed by the exercise of their reason and the insights of their particular religious faith, whether that be the faith of Islam, Christianity, atheism or any other.

Liz would have us divorce such moral judgments from our laws…but I would contend that she cannot do so unless she is willing to live with some very unpleasant consequences – the same consequences that the people of Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia or PolPot’s Columbia were forced to live with. I for one am not willing to step into that “brave new world” and, I suspect, neither is she.

Your fellow citizen, Rev. Fredric Hinz

It is a matter of civil rights

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

After the anti gay rights rhetoric that we have published in the Hub, I felt compelled to respond.

I was raised and confirmed Catholic. I am an active member of the United Church of Christ. I don’t want to get into an argument over what the Bible says or does not say about homosexuality.

What I must protest is the assertion that the issue of same-sex marriage is not a civil rights issue. As long as the state handles marriage as a legal issue, same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue.

If the churches (or other religious organizations) want to define marriage, then we need to have separate civil and religious unions. This is actually the practice in some countries.

To those who say the government will force gay marriage on us, my response is: No, it won’t. No one is going to force you to marry some one of the same gender.

To those who fear that their religious rights are being trampled, I say: You are still free to believe what you believe. Churches are free to choose who is confirmed, who is married, and who eulogized in their places of worship. That will not change.

I have written before about the need for a separation of church and state. This issue is an excellent example. We cannot make laws based on a people’s interpretation of their chosen holy book.

My divorce and second marriage would be illegal and immortal under Biblical law, but state law allows it. Clearly, state marriage laws are not Biblical laws. In America, religious law is separate from secular law because freedom of religion applies to everyone.

Gay rights issues are not about morality, they are about civil rights.

Stop bullies now!

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

In the past month or so, it seems the headlines and news broadcasts were filled with stories of teens who took their own lives because of severe bullying.

Cody Barker, age 17, of Shiocton, Wisconsin; Asher Brown, age 13, of Houston, Texas; Seth Walsh, age 13, of Tehachapi, California; Tyler Clementi, age 18, of Rutgers University; and Raymond Chase, age 19, a student in Providence, Rhode Island; Justin Aaberg, age 15, of Anoka, Minnesota, and Billy Lucas, age 15, of Greensburg, Indiana were bullied to death.

Ironically, October is National Bullying Prevention Month.

These stories break my heart. Why do we let children hurt each other and hurt themselves?

Children are singled out by bullies for many reasons. There is no one characteristic that sets kids up to be bullied. The children making the news recently were bullied because they were gay or their peers thought they were gay.

I can relate to that. In junior high school, a classmate started calling me “Lez” instead of “Liz.” Being called a lesbian is not an insult, but he meant it to be insulting. And it hurt to be singled out. After a while, the boy backed down and he probably doesn’t even remember saying anything to me. Once he stopped, the other kids stopped.

I was lucky, some kids are relentless. Sometimes things escalate to the point of dangerous.
Abuse by a bully wears down a child. According to PACER Center, More than 160,000 U.S. students stay home from school each day from fear of being bullied. “Kids will be kids” is not a reasonable response to this issue.

After a while the bullied child feels helpless. He or she make seek help and not receive it.

The National Center for Bullying Prevention offers advice on why and how we can all get involved to stop bullying, “Raising awareness will change attitudes! People used to think that bullying was a part of growing up, that it made kids tougher, that words couldn’t hurt—all ideas we now know to not be true. The fact is, bullying is a learned behavior, it erodes self-esteem and self-confidence, and it can have long-lasting, painful effects.

“Motivate others to care about the cause! Creating a culture that no longer accepts bullying will make schools and communities safer for all of us.”

Fall fashion tips

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

When you think of fashion advice, you probably don’t think of the Gaylord Hub. Well, that is about to change. Here are my fall fashion tips.

First the most important tip to remember is: If a trend does not work on you, skip it. It is a trend, not the law.

Second, go with trends that build on classics. For example, several of my sources listed camel as the latest thing. Really, the latest thing? Camels have been around since Biblical times, which is evident by the fact that they commonly appear in nativity sets. But, I digress. Camel coats are a classic standby that are worth the investment. Turtlenecks and velvet are two other classy classics that are making the rounds this season.

Sweaters are a natural part of fall. One source mentioned crop tops and another said chunky sweaters are in. Given that Gaylord is in Minnesota, I am going to recommend chunky sweaters—for obvious reasons. Sweaters can be paired with a pencil skirt, skinny jeans or leggings for a totally fresh, yet totally 80s, look.

When you choose a sweater, try to avoid the Cliff Huxtable look. Go with natural neutrals: gray, beige, brown, black, olive, and greige, which is apparently some new combination of beige and gray.

What other colors are hot for cool weather? Jewel tones: colbolt blue, purple and ox blood red (This really is a color according to the trend-watching sites) were spotted on the runway for fall 2010.

There were some fashion trends that I simply do not think work in Minnesota. Among them are: big pants (There is just more fabric to soak up snow.), graffiti pants (It just does not sound mid-western.) and pleated mini skirts (Cover your legs, it’s cool out there!)

Two more trends I read about were “patchwork” and “capes & ponchos.” Apparently, all you need to do is wrap one of the Lutheran Women’s quilts around your shoulders and you will look like you are straight off the runways of New York. So there you have it. Now you too, can have the hip, new looks for fall.

Went to the Lake

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

My children and I just returned from a week at Pilgrim Point Camp, which is why I had no column last week. We had a great time, but I didn’t put any thought into what to write while I was gone. Frankly, I didn’t put a lot of thought into anything while I was gone. I just lived in the moment and enjoyed being “at the lake.” (I love how Minnesotans say “We’re going to the lake” or “We’re going to the cabin” is if there is only one lake or cabin in the entire state.)

Going to the lake is such a Minnesotan thing to do.

Until I heard the comments my children made, I had not thought about how little time they have spent on lakes — even though we live across the street from one. One child commented that the sound of water lapping on shore is “kind of creepy.” During a pontoon ride around Lake Ida, another child commented that it was her first time seeing water lilies.

I spent many summers at Lake Vermillion where my grandparents had a cabin. (It was really a mobile home, but we called it “the cabin.”) From age 11 to 18, I lived on Lake of the Woods and from age 18-24, I lived on Superior. Lakes were just a part of life. I find water to be both relaxing and stimulating. I am not sure why so many of us are drawn to water.

Obviously, it is a source of food and drink, which is important, but I think maybe there is something deeper that draws us to water. Most of the planet is water. Most of our human bodies are water. And we begin life in a sack of water. (I know it is amniotic fluid, but bear with me.)

Maybe water reminds us of that time when we were always safe and warm. Maybe we know on a cellular level that water is the key to life as we know it and that is what draws us to it.

I don’t know.

These are just random thoughts from someone who took a week off from thinking.

The ADA is another step toward equality for all

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

I heard a recent radio story commemorating the 20th anniversary of signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. On July 20, 1990, President George (H.W.) Bush signed this historic piece of American law.

The radio piece by by Sasha Aslanian of Minnesota Public Radio featured two sisters who are only a year apart in age, but didn’t grow up together. The younger sister grew up in an institution for disabled person in the 1960s. I encourage you to go to the MPR website and listen to the story. It brought tears to my eyes and gave me chills. (Of course, I am a bit of a softy.)

After the story, I thought, “Wait…what? The ADA is only 20 years old?” Other human rights issues, like the 19th Amendment and the Civil Rights Amendment happened before my time. I studied them in high school history.

The ADA was signed when I was in college. What took us so long? What took us so long to realize that people with disabilities are still people — that they have the right to live and work and love like anyone else?

I assume that as our knowledge of science and medicine advanced, our society came to better understand why some people move, talk, hear, see and learn differently from what was considered “normal.”

A person with a disability may have special needs: such as an interpreter, cane, a service dog or an at-home aide, but when it comes down to the basics we all need the same things. And we all deserve respect.