To the citizens of El Dorado Springs and the surrounding communities,

I was raised on a farm in Vernon County, six miles west of El Dorado Springs. My mother was born in a home on the corner of Joe Davis and Kirkpatrick streets in El Dorado Springs, which was the original southeastern border of our little city. My understanding is that my great-grandfather built the home. My future grandfather lived across the street from the little house when he met and married the girl who would become my grandmother. When my grandfather died in 1979, I bought that home and raised my two children there. History. So much history.

The borders of our town have grown considerably since its beginning. As all towns do, we have gone through the ups and downs and have seen and heard the good, the bad and the ugly take place through the years. There is a truth concerning people and towns that has been proven over and over again. When the people of a city determine to do the right thing, it prospers. It takes a lot of determination and soul searching to find the courage to be right, do right and to stand for the right when challenged. A person and a town must dig down deep into his or her own heart and the heart and foundation of the city to find out who they really are and want to be. If you don’t like what you see, you have the right and the responsibility to change the direction you are going, which ultimately changes the direction of the city.

The past few years, I have seen a change for the good taking place in our little town. There seems to be a true desire for unity that, quite honestly, I have never seen before. I see businesses and city leaders encouraging our fledgling businesses. I see a compassion for others growing which gives me great joy. Oh yes, joy. When a person and a city begin to do the right thing, a true joy begins to grow deep down inside, strengthening them in their resolve to continue doing right.

Now, at the same time the good things are taking place, the bad and the ugly are also at work, fighting to keep its grasp on our city. This is where the resolve to keep doing right must grow into an overwhelming, resounding call throughout our community stretching far beyond our borders, bringing unity and healing as far and wide as possible. I have a desire and a hope within me which cannot be accomplished by one person, or two or even three.

I love people. I so love people. Once as we came upon someone with car trouble one of my young children proudly declared, “My mom will help you!” Such were the days of innocence. Do I believe I am humanly perfect? Of course not. I can be completely honest here, because I grew up here, went to school here, still live and work here. We have watched one another fall down and get back up again, bearing the scars of choices we have made while learning how to live in this world. But isn't that all part of living in a small town? We live rural, because we love rural! We want to keep the integrity and work ethic and sense of family so prevalent in rural and farming communities.

It has been said you can’t legislate morality. However, some voters in Missouri and other states have proven you can legislate immorality. Making something legal doesn’t make it the right thing to do or support. At this moment I have an anger, maybe better described as a grieving because I feel helpless against a seeming insurmountable enemy shouting his victory. Now this anger I feel isn’t the anger to kill. It is an anger to heal. Again, being completely honest, I have to say voting to make a previously illegal profession legal doesn't change the fact it is morally and physically damaging and unethical.

I know I will be trampling on the hearts and feelings of some as I address this, but I have got to say it. Every person I know who has been genuinely delivered from addiction never wants to go back down that road, even after the drug has been made legal by those who still are bound by the drug and the profit from the sale of the drug. Read that again. There are those who are just as bound to the addiction of selling as those who are bound to using. I see both parties in need of healing from what is destroying them. I want to make myself as clear as possible to all who read this and pass it along to others. My goal here is not at all to cause more division in our community, but to promote healing and inner courage to step up and take responsibility as citizens of this area of the country.

Now that I have shared with you my heart, I want to share a bit of information from the scientific and medical field I heard this week. From Dr. Daniel Amen, a physician and neuroscientist who is said to be America's foremost expert on brain health: "The second leading cause of accelerated brain aging (dementia, brain shrinkage) is marijuana use. Virtually every area of the brain is lower in people who regularly use marijuana versus those who don’t."

And to the animal lovers, on the news this week a veterinarian said animals who are around the vapors of marijuana are affected neurologically, as he described the aftereffects of just walking in areas where it is in the air.

Application has been made to our city to operate a marijuana dispensary in El Dorado Springs. The city must revise its policies to be in state compliance toward manufacturing facilities and dispensaries. So, the responsibility falls to the citizens to love our families and neighbors so much we will love the truth, live the truth, tell the truth and stand together in truth when it looks like the lie is winning. We must abide by the law, but if no one is buying, there will be no need for a seller.

I want to close with another bit of El Do and family history. There is a little branch running through the backyard of the house I raised my children in. It runs beside the old shirt factory and down through the park where the sidewalk covers it. I played in that branch, my children spent hours playing in that branch and my mother and her childhood friends walked through the tunnels where that branch flows. I've been told the branch eventually flows into a larger creek which flows into a river, which flows into a larger river and so on. But the little branch that finally becomes part of a great river has humble beginnings in one tiny spring found behind the field east of the school.

Each and every one of us has a place deep down inside designed to hold the spring of life that becomes a river joining with others to become an even larger river of life flowing within our individual families and throughout our community to wash away the grime and pollution wrong decisions have brought into our nation, our state and our towns. It starts with you, it starts with me, one individual who decides to change your mind and follow all the way through to freedom for yourself, your family, your city, your state and your nation.

Still the farmer's daughter,

Donna Joustra Chism

El Dorado Springs

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