Broader perspective provides life lessons

“Aunt Jemima” and “Uncle Ben” were part of my family when I was growing up during the 1950s. They were staples in our kitchen. Their glossy, smiling faces seemed carefree and happy. As a child I loved looking at them. Whatever sorrow, pain or indignity members of their race carried, all of which I was unaware, they masked. They were always there to feed me, to warm my insides.

It was only later in my life that I became aware of the scourge of slavery these icons perpetuated. Although they haven’t been in my cupboard for years, and are finally being liberated from commercial bondage, I retain the memory of them as I might favorite storybook characters I turned to when needed in childhood.

I can’t erase that. It’s part of my life’s heritage. But I can now see them in broader perspective, admit that I was naive and uninformed, and do what I can to make amends, in more comprehensive ways, for the unfair advantage that was taken of a people to sell a product, on whose label they were given no choice but to “know their place” and appear happy and content.

Michael Doran

Ladysmith

Face masks critical in fight against virus

I shopped at my usual supermarket last Friday at about 5:15 p.m. It seemed to me that only 30% of shoppers, or fewer, were wearing masks. All the staff were masked, for which I’m grateful. For their dedication during this time, I tip my hat to the heroes on the checkout lines and all the managers and crew who work there and at other essential businesses.

The United States has far more cases of COVID-19 than any other country. Over 112,000 grandparents, parents, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, friends and relatives have died. This ought to be a source of national shame.

In the United States in which I grew up, we took pride in our scientific advancement and our world leadership in health care.

That has changed. Why don’t people care? Where is the outrage? Why are people so eager to celebrate their own selfishness and refrain from wearing masks that would protect others in case they, themselves, are infected?

Studies show that when a COVID-19 carrier does not wear a mask and a healthy person does, the transmission rate is 70%. When both people wear masks, it’s 1.5%. I have to wonder why people who choose not to wear masks care so very little about their fellow human beings. I especially have to wonder when people who proclaim that they are pro life act in such a pro-death manner.

COVID-19 is not a bad cold. It is not even influenza. It is a pernicious, painful, and potentially fatal disease. We are just discovering some of the rather frightening long term effects. Why would everyone not do everything in their power to help prevent its spread?

Jeanny House

Eau Claire

Retool policies to address budget issues

The Eau Claire city and county governments will be facing serious budget issues in the next few years.

A huge expenditure is the costly and failed war on drugs. The county is millions of dollars short in its “human services” department, largely due to separating children from their parents for treatable substance abuse. Who is to say which is more damaging to the children?

On June 20, the newspaper reported 17 criminal convictions. Seventy percent (12 of 17) were for drugs. Imagine the savings if police were able to focus on preventing and solving crimes involving violence or protecting property. Instead, we send someone with drugs in their pocket through the hugely expensive legal system and pat ourselves on the back.

The other part of the war on drugs that is self-defeating is the underground economy that fuels the gangs, the killings (like the one we had in Eau Claire this spring), and the criminal activities that pay for it all. Our community would be a safer place if the big money were taken out of the equation and drugs were just something ignorant people did for a short time until they got clean.

We need to solve the root of the problem. There is too much money in drugs, including my tax money. Vote for leaders who will help steer us away from the ever increasing costs, both budgetary and societal, of the failed war on drugs. The vast majority of us will never experience drug abuse, but we will pay dearly through our current policies.

Kurt Carlson

Eau Claire

Governor’s approach applauded from afar

It is heartening to know that Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is engaging in listening sessions about climate change with his constituency.

Even in my state, which purports to be as progressive and pro-climate as any, our politicians often fail to listen to the worries of the people — and this in a region where the most populated areas will, at a relatively near point in our rolling climate catastrophe, be irretrievably swamped. Climate change affects us all, and if Wisconsinites take a stand, it benefits even far-flung Massachusettsans like myself.

Well done, Gov. Evers, and thank you, fellow Americans. May we have the opportunity to stand and speak in the same way soon.

Climate change is a present threat, but there is still much that can be done to mitigate it. From wind power to carbon pricing to municipal composting, no idea is too small to include in the bevy of fixes we’ll need to tackle this existential challenge. When it comes to the climate crisis, we’ve got to go all in or lose everything in the not-so-long run.

Thank you.

Anna Gooding-Call

Danvers, Mass.

Let’s take coronavirus pandemic seriously

I’m over 65, a cancer survivor, have asthma and am overweight. And yet I’m pretty healthy and active. I exercise, cook, clean, take care of our garden, do some volunteer work and, until the shelter-at-home order, was a day care provider for some of my grandchildren. I expect to live another 10–15 years.

Unless I get COVID-19. There’s a very good chance that it would kill me.

I get very annoyed when I hear people say that someone died of COVID-19 but that they had other health issues. It always seems as if they are trying to say that the virus isn’t really that bad, that these people were dying anyway. But they don’t say what the other health issues were. People who have recovered from heart attacks or strokes, have type 2 diabetes or types of lung disease that are controlled with medication and/or lifestyle changes can often expect to live to a ripe old age. I had a cousin who lived for at least 10 years after starting kidney dialysis. These are people who are at high risk for serious complications or death from COVID-19.

So let’s not minimalize COVID-19. It is a serious, deadly disease that robs people of time they would have had to be productive, caring members of families and communities. And let’s remember that it sometimes kills young, healthy people.

Joan Wallin

Eau Claire