Clovis stories touch people near and far

From the editor’s desk

Our newspaper receives numerous letters to the editor from far-away places that we never publish. We don’t have a specific policy against publishing such letters, but we could fill the Opinion page with them every day; we choose instead to offer regular columnists and reserve letter space for local writers with local interests.
Technology is responsible for the large number of letters we receive that focus on national and international topics. A lot of people want to share their opinions about world events and via e-mail they can share them with folks in California and in Canada and in Clovis.
But the Internet is a two-way street. Clovis news also reaches the world through our newspaper’s Web site (www.cnjonline.com) and sometimes inspires comment from people who may have never been to our region.
Here are two letters received recently — one from New York, the other from Washington, D.C. — from people with opinions about events happening in Clovis:

Atheists also need counseling
This is in response to your recent article about hospice care and comments by your local hospice coordinator (Nov. 30 CNJ).
Please be advised that your local hospice and other hospices in the nation hire theistic pastoral care staff while none, not one facility, has a specifically identified non-religious support staff person to meet the needs of the atheist, humanist, and agnostic patient. Furthermore, not one military base or academy or veterans hospital or Walter Reed Hospital has a person on staff to meet the needs of the non-religious soldier or veteran.
I have written President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld and the joint chiefs of staff to rectify this pattern of religious discrimination by establishing a corps of non religious supportive counselors on a par with military chaplains. Military and civilian chaplains state they serve everyone and don’t attempt to proselytize, and that the non religious can visit mental health professionals if they need help. Unfortunately, visits to mental health care staff can negatively effect one’s career while speaking with a chaplain is more acceptable.
Non-religious members of the military are serving alongside their religious comrades and deserve equal treatment — not special treatment; simply an equal recognition of their humanistic-oriented value system.
Joe Beck
Humanist Counseling and Celebrations
Buffalo, N.Y.

Nutrition, exercise enemies to fat
Your paper’s Dec. 4 article, “Snackin’ ain’t what it used to be in school,” took a realistic look at the obesity issue by highlighting some of the sensible and effective solutions being proposed to address America’s obesity epidemic. As your article correctly pointed out, the only way we are really going to get at the root of this problem is to promote better nutrition education and encourage increased physical activity in our communities, workplaces, schools and homes.
As a mother and past president of the American Dietetic Association, I’m pleased to see food producers doing their part to help consumers make wiser choices about nutrition. Surveys and interviews consistently demonstrate that people recognize they are ultimately responsible for maintaining a healthy weight — they just want some help and guidance.
But nutrition is only half of the obesity equation. Declining physical activity is also a major contributing factor. A study released in May by the University of North Carolina analyzed data spanning 20 years, and found the average caloric intake of adolescents had increased only 1 percent, while physical activity declined by 13 percent. When you also consider that only one state — Illinois — requires daily physical education classes for grades K-12, and that technological improvements have created an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, it’s no wonder our nation’s weight problem is getting worse.
To that end, the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition is promoting comprehensive, lasting policies and programs that will improve nutrition and increase physical activity in our communities, workplaces, schools and homes. 
We’re not going to reverse this disturbing trend with frivolous lawsuits, bans or taxes. But we can beat it with education, motivation, and support.
Dr. Susan Finn
American Council for Fitness and Nutrition
Washington, D.C.

From the Editor’s Desk is a weekly memo to CNJ readers. David Stevens can be reached at 763-6991, extension 310, or by e-mail:
david_stevens@link.freedom.com