Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, April 17, 2021

MVNews this week:  Page 12

12 Mountain View News Saturday, April 17, 2021 OPINION 12 Mountain View News Saturday, April 17, 2021 OPINION 




Susan Henderson 


Dean Lee 



Patricia Colonello 


John Aveny 



Stuart Tolchin 
Audrey SwansonMary Lou CaldwellKevin McGuire 
Chris Leclerc 
Bob Eklund 
Howard HaysPaul CarpenterKim Clymer-KelleyChristopher NyergesPeter Dills 
Rich Johnson 
Lori Ann Harris 
Rev. James SnyderKatie HopkinsDeanne Davis 
Despina ArouzmanJeff Brown 
Marc Garlett 
Keely TotenDan Golden 
Rebecca WrightHail Hamilton 
Joan Schmidt 
LaQuetta Shamblee 

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Right now it feels like the whole country is falling apart. 

Certainly the sheltering in place restrictions required by the 

pandemic have not made things easier. I have heard from 

family law attorneys, those specializing in divorce or domestic 

abuse, that business is better than ever. Married folks now 

forced to hang out exclusively with their spouse just can’t take 

it anymore. Similarly, I have been told that that drug use and 

overdoses are more common than ever. It appears clear to me 

that people deprived of the access to their customary diversions 

and amusements simply cannot stand their own lives. Yes, 

statistics say that suicides are way up along with violent crime. 

There is also the daily revelation for many people that Good old 

America is filled with prejudices and that racial equality does 

not exist and that the habitability of the planet is threatened and 
there may not be enough jobs to go around in the near future. 

Certainly there are reasons to feel unsettled but I think today’s problems are merely 
an amplified demonstration of the ever more noticeable desire for permanent adolescence 
that has over the decades become so typical of American life. In my lifetime there has 
been a breakdown of the ability to accept our own lives. Today there are actual epidemics 
of gun ownership, drug use, and consumption of alcohol. There is a constant need for 
entertainment and excitement. There once was a pretty general feeling that life had a 
purpose but today’s population even before the Pandemic began to believe that life was 
about having fun. Now if we can’t have fun we can’t even stand being with one another or 
even being with ourselves. 

In college I saw formerly sheltered kids drink to excess and abuse drugs perhaps 
in order to feel accepted and maintain the belief that they were having fun. I was never 
much a part of that scene but I saw it all around me. As the decades went by drinking 
and many new drugs became easily available. As a practicing lawyer for over fifty years 
it was impossible for me not to observe that the use of drugs and alcohol was a major 
contributing factor in the destruction of many lives. I wondered what could be done to 
simply get people to stop drinking and abusing (no, not just abusing—how about simply 
not using drugs.) I know the prohibition of alcohol use was tried in the past and I guess 
it was considered a failure. Still, I have read that the frequency of alcoholism greatly 
diminished during Prohibition. I can remember, not so long ago, when everyone smoked 
cigarettes and expensive cigars were the symbols of success. Today I rarely see smokers in 
Public and those that do smoke seem to be saying that living is not that important to them. 

The change happened, a tipping point was reached, and almost everyone realized 
that despite some momentary pleasure, in the long run smoking was bad for you. I 
guarantee that alcohol and mind altering drugs in the long run are not good either and 
do not make relationships more tolerable. What has made life so hard such that people 
cannot stand being with themselves without a continual search for excitement, adventure, 
and mind altering fun. I kind of think of mask wearing in the same way. A significant 
portion of the population I see as perpetual children who refuse to wear face coverings 
although such a refusal is more than potentially destructive to themselves and everyone 
else. It seems to be that this whole group acts like toddlers who want to demonstrate how 
independent they are and therefore refuse to do as they are told. This kind of behavior 
may be age appropriate for a toddler as they gain feelings of independence. There is a time, 
however, when it is necessary to grow up. 

I feel much the same about gun ownership. Perhaps having a gun in the house 
allows one to feel protected, or powerful, or independent or something. To me, it is unsafe 
childish behavior much like refusing to wear a seat belt or a bicycle helmet. It’s okay not 
to court danger. Every life has its inevitable ups and downs. I don’t think it’s healthy for 
Americans to live as spoiled children denying and ignoring obvious risks, endangering 
themselves and everyone else. Please stop having fun, learn to enjoy yourself and think a 
little about tomorrow. 

If this whole column makes you want to take a drink I understand. Growing up is 
hard. \ 




I don’t want to malign anyone’s religious faith. I really don’t.
But it’s a tad disturbing that 45 percent of the nation’s 41 million 
white evangelical Christians are vowing not to get vaccinated. 

As one Texas nutritionist told the press the other day, “It would 
be God’s will if I am here or if I am not here.” Has this woman not 
learned that the virus is contagious? And that we’ll never reach 
“herd immunity” (thwarting the virus due to a dearth of fresh 

hosts) unless roughly 85 percent of the population is vaccinated? How nice of her 
to entrust the health of those around her to God’s will, without their having a say 
in the matter. 

Granted, a lot of nationally prominent evangelical leaders are trying to talk sense 
to their parishioners. Rick Warren is telling his people to get vaccinated: “God 
revealed a lot of his will when he gave you that brain. And he expects you to use 
it.” Robert Jeffress says: “We talk about life inside the womb being a gift from God. 
Well, life outside the womb is a gift from God, too.” But as Joel Rainey, a West Virginia 
church leader, reportedly laments, “(Pastors) get their people for one hour, 
and Sean Hannity gets them for the next 20.” 

Suffice it to say that unless these evangelical refuseniks live up to what they purport 
to believe – that God put them on earth to love everyone, that they have a 
moral duty to care for others as well as themselves – the pandemic will last far 
longer than it otherwise would. And they will have blood on their hands. 

One’s religious faith is deeply personal, and my attitude is: Hey, whatever gives you 
comfort, whatever gets you through the night, whatever helps you make sense of 
this often-perplexing existence. But if or when one’s faith adversely affects others 
who don’t share the faith…then we’ve got a problem. Especially when the issue is 
life or death. 

As Kevin Schulman, a Stanford University professor of medicine, said the other 
day, “This (vaccine) is the most important product launch of our lifetime – and we 
need to get 85 percent market share.” 

By all accounts, the refuseniks don’t trust science and won’t be swayed on that basis. 
Nor do they trust government, even though their idol, Donald Trump, agreed 
to be vaccinated and recommends it. 

The best advice, apparently, is to try to persuade these folks by speaking their own 
language. Connie Schultz, an Ohio-based columnist who grew up in a devout 
Christian family, suggests this parable from her childhood church: 

A town’s river has overflowed. Floodwaters are headed for the home of a woman 
whose faith in God is unflappable. A police officer knocks on Laurie’s door. 
“Ma’am,” she says, “Your house will soon be underwater. Come with us, please.” 
“Oh, no, thank you,” Laurie says. “God will save me.” 

An hour later, water is starting to seep into Laurie’s second-floor hallway. Emergency 
workers paddle a boat up to her bedroom window and yell, “Ma’am, you’re 
going to drown. Get in the boat, please.” “God will save me,” she tells them, waving 

An hour later, Laurie is sitting on her roof. A helicopter hovers overhead, dangling 
a rope ladder within her reach. “Ma’am!” a man yells. “This is your last chance! 
Climb. Up. The rope!”
Laurie cups her hands around her mouth and yells, “God. Will. Save. Me!”
Minutes later, Laurie drowns. She arrives at heaven’s gate. “Why?” she yells at God. 
“Why did you let me drown?” 

God starts counting on his fingers. “I sent you a police car. I sent you a boat. I sent 
you a helicopter.” 
I like that story. But since we’re all in this fight together, I like a proverb that first 
appeared in print 153 years ago, one that is easily tailored to our present circumstance: 
“A chain is no stronger than its weakest link.” 

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in 
Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at Email him at dickpolman7@ 



With the eyes of the nation on Minnesota with the 
twin dramas of the ongoing criminal trial of former 
police officer Derek Chauvin and the fatal police 
shooting of Daunte Wright, a Pennsylvania community 
also finds itself facing a reckoning over the use of 
deadly force by police.
Family and supporters of Christian Hall, an Asian-
American teen fatally shot during a confrontation 

with the Pennsylvania State Police on an Interstate 80 
overpass in the Poconos last December, say they’re launching two initiatives 
that they hope will lead to better outcomes in mental health emergencies 
than the one that ended with Hall’s death.
According to published reports, Hall, 19, was in crisis and had anonymously 
called 911 to report a potentially suicidal person. And “while he 
was carrying a realistic-looking pellet gun, dash-cam footage shows his 
hands raised with the weapon pointed up and away prior to being shot. 
The deadly use of force was ruled justified by the Monroe County District 
Attorney’s office,” the local Pocono Record reported.
Despite that official ruling, activists say questions about Hall’s death still 
need to be answered. They include who gave the order to shoot and why. 
And why did a State Police statement say Hall “pointed his gun at troopers” 
when the video evidence disproves that?
Hall’s family have said they’re establishing a foundation in their late loved 
one’s name aimed at fighting racism, working on adoptee mental health, 
reforming how mental health issues are handled by police, and reforming 
juvenile justice, the newspaper reported.
According to the Pocono Record, Hall was “adopted from China as a 
baby by Fe and Gareth Hall.” 
At that rally outside Philadelphia City Hall last weekend, Hall’s cousin, 
Nicole Henriquez, called for release of “the unedited, full video,” of the 
moments before police shot Hall.
Speakers at the rally also called for Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh 
Shapiro to investigate the incident.
And while some of the officers who responded to that incident on the 
overpass last December had specialized mental health training, Madden 
told the Pocono Record that a mental health professional would 
have been better suited to try calm Hall before the situation tragically 
On that broader question, the public agrees.
Two-thirds of likely voters in a recent poll by Data for Progress, a progressive 
think-tank, and The Appeal, a criminal justice news website, say 
they’d support reallocating funding that now goes to law enforcement 
agencies to create non-police first responders who would handle emergency 
calls dealing with mental health issues, substance abuse disorders, 
health and safety check-ins and people experiencing homelessness.
That support cuts across party lines, with 80 percent of Democrats, 52 
percent of Republicans, and 60 percent of independent or third party 
voters saying they’d support such a change, The Appeal reported on April 

8. Pollsters sampled the opinions of 1,429 likely voters nationally using 
web panel respondents, for an overall margin of error of 3 percent.
Across the country “momentum is building to prevent these tragedies by 
developing non-police programs that respond to mental health and substance 
use disorder crises as well as issues faced by unhoused people and 
more general safety checks,” pollsters wrote in an accompanying memo.
Madden, the state lawmaker, told the Pocono Record that every police 
department should have access to a psychologist or psychiatrist.
“We can’t afford that to ensure that people with mental illness don’t get 
killed because they’re thinking about ending their lives?” Madden told 
the newspaperHall’s parents, meanwhile, are left to pick up the pieces from their son’s 
death. The young man’s jacket and video game controllers remain where 
he last left them, the newspaper reported.
“When bullets ended my son’s life, my life ended too,” Fe Hall, Hall’s 
mother said, according to the Pocono Record. “We eat our meals on the 
couch, staring at the TV. We cannot sit at the kitchen table or the dining 
room because there is an empty chair.” 
As is the case with every tragedy, the Halls’ pain is uniquely their own. 
But their story is all-too familiar for far too many American families. It’s 
within the power of policymakers to break this cycle.
–John L. Micek is Editor-in-Chief of The Pennsylvania Capital-Star in Harrisburg, 

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