Personal comments

A call for unity at a time of conflict.

(Posted Wednesday, August 19th, 8:30pm)

We live here together in this country. A country with good laws and bad laws. With people who are not perfect now, and founders who were not perfect either. With significant disagreements as to how to view the past and how our laws should change to ensure a better future. We can argue peacefully and work together, or we can fight amongst ourselves until millions are dead.

We can see only the bad and forget that we have more rights here than people do in many other countries. Or we can appreciate all the good, even while we work to rectify those areas in which this country fails to protect our rights. (Civil forfeiture or foreclosing on a house over an $8.41 tax bill, for example.) So while I support a person’s right to kneel for the anthem, and other expressions of first amendment rights, I strongly believe that it shows an incredible lack of appreciation. As individuals, we need to recognize those who have assisted us in life, even in small ways. That assistance may be in the form of friends who listen to our concerns. Relatives who babysit when needed. A boss who gives us a chance. Teachers who tried to prepare us to succeed. Charity and other assistance received when between jobs. Religious leaders, parents or spouse who encourage us to improve ourselves. Self-help books. History books, so we hopefully are not doomed to repeat previous mistakes. Friendly neighbors. People who say good morning when they pass perfect strangers. Security personnel trying keep us safe at events. People who forgive us for our failings. Our country for giving us opportunity and recognizing our rights (be thankful you weren’t born in North Korea, for example). Our parents for choosing to have us. He who knows all and chooses to give us time to improve. By recognizing help from others and appreciating that help, we can begin to pay back or pay it forward, as well as working hard to make their efforts not be for naught.

Police officers are neither all bad or all good. We should neither ignore the fact that some officers have acted wrong, nor should we reduce or get rid of police departments in response. Both are extremes and lead to more crime, which hurts us all. If we fund approriate programs and they successfully lead to significantly lower crime, by all means fewer police officers will be needed at that time. Funds should not be taken from current police budgets, which only leads to less training and worse outcomes. Qualified immunity was meant to shield police officers who make mistakes while trying to do their job to the best of their ability. Unfortunately it also shields some officers who purposefully do wrong. Qualified immunity needs to be fixed, not discarded. We can neither ignore wrongdoing, nor arrest a police officer for doing his job imperfectly. Both lead to very bad results.

Violence, except in self-defense, is very bad for everyone. Peaceful protests are fine examples of exercising first amendment rights. We have a lot of both right now. Ignoring the existence of either one is not helpful.

As a society, not everyone has equal opportunity, but there is opportunity nonetheless. Our system has created opportunity which has allowed many to succeed regardless of circumstance, but we can do better. Direct assistance can help people in temporary hardship, but teaching people to stand on their own is the best solution. Too many people either don’t graduate high-school or finish four years of college with no job skills. Free college won’t fix either one. We need a different solution.

Unfortunately, our political parties have moved further and further apart. There is no real attempt to negotiate, to work together until all parties can come to some sort of agreement. If one side says something, the other seems to automatically take the opposite side. Yet there can be so many ways to work together. On most issues there is a compromise position that no candidate would approve, but would be better than any of the often extreme positions taken today. So every few years the country tilts drastically one way, then back the other way a few years later. I’m not bashing any particular candidate or party. We ALL need to work together for a better tomorrow.

We should all be working together to overcome COVID-19 and the resulting effects on all the people of this country. Being safe and secure in our homes, especially as we’re home all the time now, and prepared to weather the continuing social distancing orders and their effects for the unfortunately long time we likely still have until this is all over. See some ideas on my website:

Ilan Arlin


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