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January, 2012

  1. My advice for Loma Linda

    January 14, 2012 by Ryan

    I read a story that fascinates me. It takes place in Loma Linda, California; a city with about 23,000 residents.

    I invited myself to take a stroll through town using Google Earth. In my quick perusal, Loma Linda appears to be like any other Southern California town. I noticed a college, medical center, shopping malls, a gas station, and a drug store.

    It is interesting to note that in this city east of Los Angeles, people enjoy one of the longest life spans in the world. The average resident lives well into their 80’s. Fitness and clean living are the bywords here, and they have a healthy population of centenarians to support the claim.

    They also are a deeply religious community. Loma Linda is home to many followers of the Seventh-day Adventist faith. The religion encourages its followers to abstain from alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. They also encourage a vegetarian or vegan diet as well.

    I know a bit about living in a religious community, in a religion that encourages a healthy lifestyle. The Mormons also abstain from alcohol and tobacco, and encourage moderate consumption of meats. In our larger-than-average religious population, we also see health benefits when the people follow this council. I empathize with that.

    There is one other thing that the town of Loma Linda is missing. That would be a McDonald’s Restaurant.

    Now some would hold the opinion that the absence of this establishment is a plus to the charming city. The municipality already hosts a Del Taco, Carl’s Jr., and other fast-food fare. So naturally, it was only a matter of time before someone wanted to open a franchise and raise the Golden Arches within the city limits.

    The residents are crying “No!”

    The city council is considering whether or not to deny their permit to build.

    Parents are concerned that their children, raised with a McDonald’s restaurant in such close proximity, will desire to eat there. They will break the tenants of the majority religious faith, as well as develop unhealthy eating habits.

    I applaud those parents for taking a concerned interest in their children’s health and well being, and wish that all parents did the same everywhere. However, I don’t agree with your argument.

    If your children are younger, teach them that your family does not patronize that business. Teach them based on the merits of healthy eating, or the articles of your faith, or both.

    If you have older children, then I recognize that it becomes harder. You still must endeavor to use your influence to teach them what you believe, and your faith that they will follow in the ways of righteousness. As they grow and develop their independence and friendships, you only fool yourself if you believe that teenagers cannot travel to a neighboring city to taste a forbidden Big Mac, if they have a mind to do so.

    No, banning the restaurant because you think you cannot withstand the pleas of your young charges simply doesn’t make sense to me. Other restaurants are already in town serving similar foods. If you can withstand those temptations, you can likewise hold up against the invitation of the Ronald and his inviting Playplace™.

    Allow the restaurant to be built, and vote against it with your pocketbook. Do not support it financially. That is the proper way to handle the situation. The businessman will take the risk, and fail if the community doesn’t purchase his food. That is a normal, natural way.

    I suspect that you will have a more expensive courtroom fight on your hands if you deny the rights of this businessman when similar establishments already exist.

    So here I stand. I am not a personal fan of McDonald’s restaurants, and I have never been to Loma Linda. I have no stake in either place. Yet I will fiercely defend your right to practice your religion, if you will defend the right of a businessman to legally and lawfully build a burger joint.

    And I’ll take a side order of fries with that to go, please.


  2. My Guilty Conscience

    January 11, 2012 by Ryan

    I have a confession to make.

    I didn’t sleep very well last night, because I robbed a bank.

    At least, I dreamed that I did.

    It wasn’t your typical heist. Nothing in dream-land ever is. It felt like a Sunday afternoon. There were no people at the bank, except for me and my accomplice. We had opened the doors, walked in, went to the back, effortlessly opened the vault, and began bagging up handfuls of money.

    No guns pointed; no notes handed to the teller; no ski masks or Halloween costumes.

    When we were done, we walked casually out the front door. The parking lot was empty. There were no police cars around. No one shouted, “Put your hands in the air, we’ve got you surrounded!”

    As I walked down the front stairs of the bank, I thought to myself, “They have cameras! They will know what I look like!” I started to sweat as I mentioned this thought to my partner in crime, but my accomplice was calm and collected, and told me to not act nervous or I’ll attract attention. He was an older man who apparently was experienced in this kind of work. I don’t know who he was, or how I had come to be involved with him. Such details didn’t seem important in this particular dream.

    What seemed important now was that I was forever a criminal. They had my picture and my prints.

    We walked about a half-a-block through a residential neighborhood to where we had parked my wife’s car by the side of the road in the shade of a tree.

    I thought how inexperienced I must be at bank robbery, as we entered my car. This car is not suitable for a getaway vehicle! It doesn’t accelerate very fast, and doesn’t have a very large gas tank. We would surely be caught up to, in speed or in distance, if they pursued us.

    Except for the fact that no one pursuing us.

    As I started the car, I heard the first siren in the distance. I shook with fear, and my partner told me to relax. It was an ambulance.

    We drove on, unmolested and unafraid. I dropped him off at his home. He took his bag of cash inside, and I never saw him again.

    Next I did the only thing that seemed right. I went to work. After all, I still had my day job to attend to.

    As I tried to go about my work, I was consumed with guilt. I couldn’t concentrate. I was sure they were going to catch up to me. They would notice the money was gone, and look at that video tape eventually. They would see my face, and come and cuff me and book me.

    What would my wife and children think then?

    I was paralyzed with fear, anxiety, and worry. I tried to act like nothing was wrong, but I could not.

    In dream land, this particular day at work they sent an email out inviting the entire company to come and eat free pizza. They had purchased enough for everyone to have all they wanted.

    And I was so sick to my stomach that I couldn’t even look at it.

    A couple of times I tried to confess to coworkers what I had done. Each time, I couldn’t say the words.

    I was hopelessly trapped.

    Finally, I heard an alarm. I was done for!

    Fortunately, it was my real-life alarm clock, and I was saved from this torture. The dream was over.

    I felt like I had slept on top of a pile of bricks. Unrestful. Uncomfortable.

    The moral of the story: I’ll never make a good bank robber. Not even in my wildest dreams.