COMMENTARY: Nice to meet you, too :)

Saturday, July 28, 2012
Kuykendall is managing editor at Carroll County Newspapers.

I've been hearing around town how "conservative" I am.

And how the Citizen, now that the old guard is gone and the new guard has taken over, is going to suddenly become "conservative like me" and "a smaller version of the Carroll County News."

This is all news to me -- because I'm not, and it's not.

In fact, this makes me laugh out loud. On my last trip home to Little Rock, I shared this rumor with my River Market crew (my second home is two of the largest live music venues there, Stickyz and Rev Room; I worked there for a while and my closest friends still work there), and we all had a good laugh.

But here, it's not so funny.

It's actually just another lie spread by those who want to see me and the Citizen fail. And perhaps it is also being perpetuated by those who are fearful that they will lose their stalwart liberal community newspaper.

Please let me assure you this couldn't be further from the truth. I've always considered myself a liberal, and have gotten in many a screaming match with my conservative, Republican family members over issues such as abortion rights, flag burning and health insurance.

Since there apparently is a misunderstanding about who I am and what my intentions are as Managing Editor at the Citizen, perhaps it's time you get to know me, personally, a little better. So here's an overview of who I am. It's nice to meet you, too. :)

I am, my friends tell me, a hippie at heart; I believe in the sanctity of Mother Earth, the power of love, and I pass just about every "hippie test" I've found on the Internet. (See Ha ha! And yes, I listen to Phish, the String Cheese Incident and Widespread Panic and have seen them live in concert multiple times!)

I am a woman of faith, and am very spiritual. Having been raised in a very strict charismatic Christian home, after wandering from my faith for over a decade, I've now found a solid middle ground, you might say, upon which I've built a solid foundation and a strong relationship with my God.

I also believe firmly, however, that it's not my job or responsibility to judge others on whether they are on OK footing with God, or to even care whether their God is the same as mine. I believe it's an individual, private issue, and to each his own.

I believe my primary responsibility in this world, according to my faith, is to love my neighbor and love my God, and to act accordingly. If you love someone, you treat them nicely and attempt to make them proud.

I strongly believe that, despite my personal faith convictions -- perhaps even BECAUSE of personal faith convictions -- moral issues should not be legislated. Though common sense tells us that some moral issues should be legally regulated in order to keep the peace (i.e. whether it's alright to kill, steal, etc.), others should be left up to INDIVIDUAL CHOICE.

I believe that God Himself is a big fan of individual choice; otherwise, why would He have left it up to us to decide whether to follow Him? If He is as powerful as I believe He is, He could have just created a bunch of slaves who followed him no matter what. But instead He gave us choices. I like choices.

Among the moral issues that I believe should be left up to individual choice are abortion, gay marriage, marijuana and separation of church and state issues.

And regarding medical marijuana: I fully support it. I watched my own mother, when I was 12 years old, scream in pain every day and night for a year and a half while she was dying from brain cancer because her caretakers wouldn't give her any good painkillers (for fear she would get "addicted, in case God healed her" and she recovered. I am not making this up.) Medical marijuana would have saved her a lot of pain, kept her from wasting away so quickly from not being able to eat, and would have prevented me from having a lot of 12-year-old nightmares and, later, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the whole experience. Yeah, cancer sucks.

Not only do I fully support medical marijuana, I tend to think that marijuana should perhaps be legalized altogether, and taxed by the government. Not only would it cure a lot of anxiety disorders and prescription pill addictions in this country, it would cure our national debt just like that.

Regarding the other moral issues that I mentioned: The government does not belong in the doctor's office, nor in the bedroom, nor in the church. Period.

Lastly, I believe that there are certain things the government SHOULD stand up for: its citizens. If we are truly all entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and if we are required to pay such exorbitant taxes to help ensure these rights, then by God, let's actually ensure our citizens can LIVE by providing them with decent health care, instead of sentencing those who can't afford health care to an almost certain early death.

When you can't get a job because you're sick, but you need a job to afford health care so you can get well, it's a vicious cycle that never ends -- and millions of Americans are trapped in it. I know because it happened to me. Luckily, I escaped that hell, but most will never escape and will die in that poverty of sickness.

We Americans should be taking better care of each other -- by whatever means necessary. Clearly, private industry is failing at it.

In every area, really -- not just health care -- we should take better care of each other, love each other more, be nicer to our neighbors -- even when we don't see eye to eye. After all, just because we do not always agree, doesn't mean we have to be enemies.

See, don't I sound like a hippie? :)

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Kristal Kuykendall is Managing Editor of the Lovely County Citizen and Carroll County News, and in her free time enjoys blogging about and watching live music in the region, as well as attending music festivals all over the country. She can be reached at