Food For Thought

When the End Comes

by Dr. John E. Bonfadini, Ed.D., Professor Emeritus, George Mason University

John Bonfadini

Some Final Food for Thought

In early November I was steelhead fishing in Northern Pennsylvania. Iíd had a good morning fishing and decided to try a spot further upstream.

It had begun to rain, and the creek was becoming muddy as the water rose. A local landowner had given me permission to fish a few deep holes on his property. I was anxious to get a few casts in before the water got too swift and I had to quit fishing. I headed for a spot just below a train trestle.

I made a few casts from just off the bank, then took a couple of steps further into the water. The next thing I knew I was in over my head wearing waders, boots and all kinds of gear, a situation all fisherman fear. I popped to the surface and could just see the top of the water through my foggy glasses. I was somewhat disoriented. I remember wondering if this was how my life was going to end. Other thoughts also flashed though my mind before natural survival instincts kicked in and I began taking breast strokes to get back to the underwater ledge. After several strokes I felt the ledge with my leg and managed to climb back into shallow water.

There was no one else on the stream. I was alone except for the Good Lord, who I believe had something to do with my getting an opportunity to enjoy my family for a while longer. We never know when the end is going to come. The Bible includes several passages about the need to be prepared. I had also been worried about my increasing PSA reading, a possible indication that my prostate cancer had returned. Standing all wet in the water I just thought that God had given me this extended opportunity and my reading would be lower at the next test. Iím glad to report my PSA reading had decreased, for which I am extremely grateful.

This long introduction about the end of life is to get me to the topic of this article. It will be my last. The magazine will no longer publish Food for Thought on a regular basis. Itís been a great 17-year ride. Iíve worked with the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (publisher of Cooperative Living) in various capacities for almost four decades. As a board member and contributing writer, improving the magazineís scope and readership has always been a priority. Some readers will say that my no longer being a writer will be an improvement.

When you place your thoughts on paper for public consumption and response, you expect to hear different points of view. The magazine readers have been great. Some have praised me, others have spanked me. Your comments were always welcomed. The editor suggested I reminisce about the past 17 years, but I think the future is far more important. So Iím closing with some thoughts about article topics I had planned to discuss in future magazines.

Health Care: As a society we somehow need to unify in developing a program that secures the best health-care access to all citizens. The value of human life is diminished when health issues are not addressed.

Education: We are beginning to see our universities become under-funded. There is a lot of political talk about the value of education but little real change in financial backing. The role of education will always have some controversy, but a democratic society becomes nonexistent without a strong educational system for all citizens.

Technology: It seems like just yesterday when we were the only family on the block to have a television. We had a TV before we had a telephone. Iíd wait in line at the public phone to call my girlfriend. All the guys wanted to talk with the ladies. We would dial their number, hang up and they would call the booth back. We didnít have the money to make a call. I just made a call on my iPhone 4S, which has become an appendage to my body. I actually ask it questions and it gives me answers. My granddaughter wanted to know where Timbuktu was, so I just asked my phone. It gave me more information than I could find in most libraries. The increased use of technology to solve problems in the future will create many political, social, and moral dilemmas. When I look back at the past 50 years I can only imagine what the next 50 will hold for my grandkids.

Economy: Money is always the number-one issue. It shouldnít be but thatís what drives life in todayís world. We all expect more for our kids than we had. Not sure this is a good philosophy. Many of us probably already have too much. I believe this generation has lived in the best of times. Will it continue into the future? Iíd like to think so, but Iím not sure. Some of our natural resources are finite. Will we discover and learn to safely use other fuels to run our economic engine? I have faith in our countryís basic goals, although the political process sometimes causes a high level of anxiety.

Politics: Whenever I wrote on this subject I got very strong opinions from many readers. Politics has become like a football game. Many have a team association but many donít know why they chose that team. Society would be better off if we chose to love the game rather than a specific team. Loving the game is synonymous with loving the country more than any one political viewpoint. It would lead to more compromises and less arguments. Yes, we have the best system, but that doesnít mean it canít be improved.

Family Life: How our changing family life fits into our society is a major future challenge. I consider religion a part of the family structure. Contemporary family structure is being torn apart. Will it survive in the world to come? Cooperative Living is a magazine whose goal is to highlight electric cooperatives and the communities they serve. Iím sure there will be plenty of articles published on this topic.

Well, you can see I still have plenty of thoughts running through my mind. I consider it a blessing I still care about participating in the debate about the virtues of life. You have been a great partner in the past debates and I will continue to seek your thoughts through other means and contacts. Again, with tears in my eyes I say thank you to the readers and those associated with Cooperative Living for a great ride. God Bless.

Whats Your View?

Obviously, there are at least two sides to every issue. Do you have a different view? This column is meant to provoke thought, so keep sending comments. Each one is read with the utmost interest. Send e-mail to:, or send written responses to the editor. Mail will be forwarded to the author.




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