As a non-staff member of this paper there are some things I feel free to say about the paper based on that independence. I have known the paper’s staff for over 50 years. The staff has always consisted of competent, conscientious persons. Traditionally they have worked to keep the community informed. Such high standards have spared us many things not good for community life.

Wednesday, Sept. 9, they reached the apogee, that is the height of excellence in doing so. The work “Around Town” and columnist Dick Yarbrough put in, simply laid out for all to see, the contrasts before the public in the forthcoming election. They, like most of us, know there are some good people that are running for office in both parties. Without impugning the character of anyone, they defined the positions of both parties, making it obvious what a difference it will make depending on which party prevails.

Let me encourage every person, regardless of their education, social status, age, race or economic standing, to put aside party and not vote for the candidate or party, but for what his or her party stands. Study the issues and vote on the basis of your convictions and the overall community good. Issues are the issue. Hopefully the paper will further define the party positions and the individual stance on issues. In doing so, it will not be as though they have a vendetta against one or the other. It will simply mean they are showing their love for the community and interest in its welfare. Time and again this journal has done so over the years. It alone is now the voice for the community.

Voters should engage in a self-study. Determine what you believe and define your convictions.

Let me be transparent in illustrating what that entails. I am an evangelical Christian. Therefore, I will vote measuring issues on the basis of what is considered to be most in harmony with those convictions, not candidates, parties or emotions.

An election can make a seismic change in a community. Overnight a community can be transformed. Values can shift in an instant. Some aspects of community life can be lost indefinitely. Rights can suddenly become wrongs.

John Leland, who played a significant role in the codifying the Bill of Rights of our Constitution, wrote: “Whenever a number of men enter into a state of society, a number of individual rights must be given up to society, but there should be a memorial of those not surrendered, otherwise, every natural and domestic right becomes alienable, which raises Tyranny at once, and this is as necessary in one form of government as in another.”

In effect, he foresaw that unless what the government can’t take away is defined it can take it away. Thus, the items in the Bill of Rights were the original entitlements.

In a drive to change our culture, secularists, knowing they likely could not repeal those rights, simply went about redefining them. In certain instances, the redefinition has given the right the opposite meaning from that originally intended.

This upcoming election can empower new leaders to redefine old standards.

Consider your sphere of influence, the people and places where you have influence. Start there to help your domain be one where character is domiciled. Speak out for your values and refuse to be muted by critics.

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The Rev. Dr. Nelson L. Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.