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 April, 2012                    Vol. 2:2    


The Times They Are Changing

By Linwood Bragan

In 1964, singer—songwriter Bob Dylan released what would become one of his most famous songs, The Times They Are a—Changin’. Several recent events reminded me this song title is just as applicable for 2012—from sports to politics, to college and reproduction…

The Times They Are A-Changin'


Do you find things Americans once found shocking now tend to be ignored while matters that once seemed so ordinary, are now embroiled in controversy? For example, it used to be, the most controversy sports generated was the debate among fans over who has the best team or the best player, or how the game was lost on a blown call by an umpire, or referee. Even when a player was found to have crossed the line morally, it rarely caused even a raised eyebrow, because on the field of play their integrity was unchallenged.  That is not to say some have not been noted for their carousing—Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Joe Namath.  But, this was generally brushed aside; as, “boys will be boys”. As what mattered, first and foremost, was the integrity of the game.


Not so today. Many athletes break the rules, some even break the law; yet, the public gives it that same old wink and a nod. Several sports records are now held by suspected or admitted steroid abusers. An NFL team paid bounties for deliberately injuring their opponent’s star players. In both instances the fans seem accepting of it, even pleading for softer sanctions. However, let an athlete take a stand for his faith and the controversy begins.


Case in point, on Easter Sunday one of the largest celebrations was held outdoors to accommodate the interest generated by a professional football player. Over 15,000 attended the event to listen to a 24-year-old man talk about his faith and where it was taking him.  He humbly spoke of the positive effect public displays of faith could have on the world. He knows of what he speaks as his own public displays have made Tim Tebow quite a sensation in the media. They have also landed him in the center of controversy.


Interestingly, it is over something Tebow says he has been doing on the football field for seven years—kneeling or “Tebowing” as the media now labels it. However, now people are paying attention. Some because he bows in prayer—something he's done since childhood; others because he was a winner—taking an NFL team, that was not supposed to make it, to the playoffs. And, while there are many who believe in the sincerity of this young man, others say his actions are only for show, or that there is no place for religious displays in professional sports; steroids—maybe, marital infidelity—most definitely. Just don’t talk about your faith.


Later that Easter afternoon the sporting world was again riveted when Phil Mickelson, who was favored to win The Masters Golf tournament, turned in a less than spectacular performance. This allowed a Dutchman, with an improbable shot, to raise his prospects of victory and secure a spot in a playoff with a golfer named Bubba—who, like Tebow, has generated his own fair share of controversy over his faith.


Bubba Watson charged to the fore through steady success, hole after hole, fighting his way into a playoff and ultimately winning golf’s premier event. Shockingly, for some, a guy named Bubba now numbers among the elite of golf. The green jacket is his forever. Perhaps even more shocking is the commitment he affirms of his faith in God.


Indicating the importance of his own faith, Bubba Watson has tweeted, "Most important things in my life—1. God 2. Wife 3. Family 4. Helping others 5.Golf." As with those who do not like Tebow’s pronouncements of faith, Watson’s words were not well-received by some who follow him on Twitter.


They complained about his tweets regarding faith and scripture verses. He responded politely that any offended should feel free to “unfollow” his Twitter feed. A hundred, or so, folks did. Bubba took the time to reply to each with a goodbye note of well wishes.


So, what is it that motivates these young champions—the NFL quarterback, who led his college team to a national championship, and the formerly bad tempered golf pro, who now holds golf’s greatest championship? Is victory in the sporting arena their ultimate goal? The answer to this question is, incredibly, what also makes them controversial.


When interviewed, Tebow is known for deliberately stating on the front end of the interview, “I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Regarding his kneeling he said, "I've been doing the same thing for the last seven years and this year it just seems to get popular. But I do think it's pretty cool because at least prayer is being talked about." 

After donning his trophy attire before the throngs at Augusta National Golf Club, Bubba stepped up to the microphone and offered thanks to his Lord and Savior. Later in an ESPN interview he spoke of wearing “the Green Jacket” as a dream come true and a blessing.  That it would help him, “. . . do better things across the world outside of golf.”


The stories of Tebow and Watson illustrate how people are polarized over those who place a higher premium on things other than simply winning the game. Surely to most of America there still exist noble ideals and higher aspirations than to merely have the best view of the circus of life around us. As a sport crazed nation, have we forgotten that winning is not the only thing of lasting value?


The Times They Are a—Changin’


Unnoticed on Good Friday by the major media was a full-page ad run in the campus newspaper The Stanford Daily. The page 5 advertisement sought a human egg donor for hire.  Though unspecified in the ad, compensation to donors regularly ranges from a few thousand dollars up to as high as $50,000. (Unfortunately, college students are particularly susceptible to such offers as they can always use some extra cash.)   It detailed specifications and qualifications for the donor and informed of the intentions of those who sought to buy a young woman's fertility.


The anonymous buyers bragged about themselves as highly educated but infertile, highly accomplished with graduate degrees from excellent universities, and living in one of the best school districts; they want the child to be a top student as were they.

Even more interesting was how they described their “ideal egg donor” as a:


“21—year-old the Stanford student with an ‘A’ grade point average, near-perfect SAT score, wonderfully awarded during high school and the University.” The fee for this “Genius egg donor” was simply, “excellent compensation".


At one time Mom and Dad worried that their daughters would remain chaste while at college and were scared to death if they didn't.  Now parents have to worry not only about their children keeping their virginity, but also about selling their offspring—by surgically having their eggs removed.


I am reminded of the award winning documentary movie Eggsploitation, my friend, Jennifer Lahl, produced and directed. The movie recounts the tragic stories of Stanford and other university graduates and students—young women who sold their eggs.  It all looks so simple and sure for some easy big money. But the young ladies featured in Eggsploitation, introduce you to a darker side of the story—the unseen potential added costs of donating eggs:  infertility, sterility, crippling long term disabilities and death.


Former Medical Director for the FDA, Dr. Suzanne Parisian, warned of these dangers in Eggsploitation, stating, " . . . [the dangers] for egg retrieval in women would include the OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome), which would in and of itself put a woman at risk for pulmonary complications, fluid imbalances, stroke and death.” Unfortunately, The Stanford Daily ad doesn’t inform donors of the potential dangers inherent in donating human eggs.


Parents want college to be a learning, maturing, developing experience that also provides some enjoyment.  It’s a last opportunity for our children to search broadly for issues and ideas that inspire and uplift before they begin their professional career.  Society is making it into some sort of “qualifying endurance test” and an expensive one—not only financially but as this ad indicates, physically and emotionally, as well.


It is little wonder that some young woman, having achieved so much to earn her way into an elite school, and trying to survive without a withering debt load the day she graduates would be vulnerable to the allure of a quick cash down payment for her hard work.


The Times They Are a—Changin’

Perhaps of even greater consequence for us as a nation is what is happening in the political world.  Statesmen used to come together to effect legislative agreement for the good of the nation and for her citizens. Foreign policy fights stopped at our shore line.


Now petty one-upmanship rules the day when seemingly every elected official is out to deliver the bacon back home, let alone provide benefits expected by their major contributors. Could you dare describe our current group of legislators as statesmen? Times have changed, we have constant conflict and infighting that hinders compromise and because of that we find ourselves facing such things as:

  • GSA workers spending tax dollars on extravagant “team building” events;
  • Gambling billions of taxpayers’ dollars on the failing green energy companies of political cronies;
  • Congressmen profiting from “insider trading” that would get ordinary taxpayers a prison term;
  • Senate Majority Leader Democrat Harry Reed refusing to pass a budget for over 1,100 days;
  • Congressional junkets and First Family vacations to luxury locations;
  • Secret Service procuring prostitutes

Since we deal with public policy, when you paid your “tax bill” for April 15th, did you ask yourself, “Are we getting our money’s worth?” With the country racking up $4 trillion in debt in the last 4 years, isn’t it time for someone to take action and cut back on the entire lavish spending spree?


We deserve more for our money. We desire people who steward it, save it and spend it wisely. We demand some standards to apply to when, where, and for what it is spent and accountability for how it is spent.


In politics, the American people want a government that does its job efficiently and effectively and at a low cost. We want politicians who are not corrupt, men and women who are straight shooters, on whom we can rely. The public has at least earned that!


“Come senators, congressmen

Please heed the call

Don't stand in the doorway

Don't block up the hall

For he that gets hurt

Will be he who has stalled

There's a battle outside

And it is ragin'

It'll soon shake your windows

And rattle your walls

For the times they are a—changin'.”

The Times They Are a—Changin’


In This Issue

The Times Are Changing



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