The myriad responsibilities surrounding the publishing of a community newspaper are sometimes overwhelming, but the rewards of a satisfied, loyal and appreciative readership are far more compensatory than the finances associated with ad sales.
The Forum, at its current size, is obviously not an enterprise of great fortune. But the privilege of producing a resource for the community, one on which it has depended and continues to do so for decades measures much higher on the scale for us than do the bank deposits of competitors who exist solely for financial profit with no concern or observation of the people in the communities where they circulate.
Our rewards are different. They take shape in invitations by the people who live here to tell their stories. Some of which have the potential to change lives upon their reading.
This week, on page 4, we were blessed to be able to tell one of them.
One of the first lessons I remember a professor at Columbia’s School of Journalism spouting about community journalism was to remember never to put religion or God into the mix of an editorial. “It alienates readers who do not share faithful observation and casts an unpleasant shadow over objectivity.” With all due respect professor, it’s one of the rules I choose not to follow.
A story of faith and God’s power to transform tragedy into triumph is the story of Howard Beach native, Philly Mayer and his family. Stricken with SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy), a genetic disease which prevents its victims from breathing, walking, feeding themselves or leading a normal life.
Until a few years ago, SMA was one of those horrifying diseases with no drug therapies, because it doesn’t hit enough people, despite the fact that it is the leading genetic cause of death in infants. It’s sort of like something we have faced many times at the newspaper, when trying to help the community get a traffic device at a dangerous location. The city’s position is that they don’t do that until someone dies at the location. Comforting isn’t it that maybe someone else will die at your corner before you do and then the DOT will hang a light or install a sign.
But thankfully through the faith and persistence of people like the Mayer family, a drug known as Spinraza has swept the SMA community by storm, bringing such incredible results in infants, who now may go on to lead normal lives, that they have stated using it in older patients and getting unbelievable results.
Is it the drug therapy alone responsible? Not according to Philly’s mom, Angela who says that her family has been praying for years for the doctors and researchers, to keep going and to acquire the knowledge it would take to begin an actual path towards the cure.
And now that the day has arrived, Angela Mayer says it’s all because of the love and the goodness of God.
Can you really oppose the view of a mother who has witnessed her son go from being unable to lift a feather to raising a two-pound dumbbell, and now holding his own very large drinking glass filled with the beverage of his choice? Can you tell this Supermom, who has rooted every action in her life into her tremendous faith, that it wasn’t God? Can you tell 16-year-old Philly Mayer whose life expectancy technically expired nine years ago that he just got lucky?
Angela Mayer doesn’t think so and quite frankly neither do I.
Take a look around your world folks and tell me if you think there is any other answer to solve the disaster of the world we live in but that found in faith.
Yes it’s difficult, to some inconceivable, but if you open your eyes to it, you will see it right before you, appearing like nothing else in life.
No I am not a “holy roller”–I am a realist and I am strong enough in my belief and in my faith to step out from hiding behind it.
Belief in God is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s the thing in your life you should be the most proud of. And if you tell that to people and they look at you funny, say a prayer for them.
I’d love to see a world in which everyone seeks and knows God. It would be a better one in every way.
And should you doubt that it’s the only way to live, the next time you’re troubled and can’t find a way to overcome your problems , I have one suggestion, and ‘I’ll borrow the words of Barbara Striesand: “let go and let God.



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