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Hope for something better 

Hope for something better

Occasionally, letters to the editors of our various media outlets here in Arkansas reveal the sentiments of those who do not put much stock in the Bible. But observe closely and you will see that, more often than not, these letters convey the sense that many, if not most, Arkansans place a great deal of importance in the scriptures. It is not surprising since we live on the buckle of the Bible Belt. So it is to the scriptures that we can turn for words of guidance, direction and, yes, hope.

But before doing that, we want to commend our Senate and House of Representatives for their approval, albeit narrowly, of the private option funding. Why did we need this legislation? Take a look at some sobering statistics. According to americashealthrankings.org 2010, among the 50 states Arkansas ranks 42nd or worse in the areas of stroke, occupational fatalities, infant mortality, obesity, premature death, immunization coverage, per capita health spending, lack of health insurance, children in poverty, physical activity, cardiovascular deaths, poor physical health days and cancer deaths. Do we want our hospital emergency rooms to have to cover all of these — and then pass on the costs to the Arkansas taxpayers? Are not so many of our legislators concerned with budgets, as they claim to be?

Can we not collectively, as a people, hope for something better? Hope is one of the most powerful words in our vocabulary, as well as the Bible. Often born of adversity, it longs for a better day when the fortunes of one's self, and others, will be better than they happen to be at the present time. Arkansas is filled with people hoping for something better in their lives.

Many of the folks in Arkansas who quote the scriptures find themselves described by them. For example, there is Leviticus 19:1, 9-10: The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: "When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God." We have rich and we have poor, we have those who harvest the land and those who can only be described as "the poor and the alien."

From the beginning, the Bible's mandate is clear that those who reap have the responsibility to share with those who cannot. If our scriptures have one single values theme, it is certainly this!

Apart from the political reasons for supporting the bill, we commend its successful passage from the standpoint of biblical faith. Too long we have turned our collective back on those described in Hebrew scripture as "the poor and the alien," and in the gospels as "the least of these." Now we have the impetus to step up and do that which is right and good, that which will offer hope to the people of Arkansas who otherwise might find it in very short supply.

Rabbi Gene Levy and Rev. Randy Hyde

Little Rock

Thanks to Blue Hog

If anyone in Central Arkansas deserves a laurel and a hearty handshake for his work lately, it's Matt Campbell with his Blue Hog Report. His record of outing the venal and miscreant in Arkansas public office is laudable. Campbell's success at ferreting out and bringing to light unpleasant truths about some of our public officials and business leaders is an example of how a "citizen journalist" empowered by the FOIA can make an important difference.

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