Most of us were shocked and deeply saddened by the tragedy that occurred last Friday at the movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado. Twelve people lost their lives and another 58 were wounded – 11 critically – during one of the worst mass shootings in US history.
Coming just two days before the anniversary of the massacre in Norway, and close on the heels of such US-based tragedies as the shootings at Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Tucson and Columbine High School, what happened in Aurora has sparked considerable debate and controversy.
As I stood at a public meeting hand over my chest pledging my loyalty to this republic, I asked myself how many giving through this ritual actually care or appreciate the unique character of the United States. So far down a universalist slope have we gone that few objected when a former Mets first baseman, Carlos Delgado, refused to stand for the Star Spangled Banner. Even Superman, the distinctly American comic book character, whose motto was “truth, justice and the American way” has been transmogrified in a 2006 film, mouthing the words “truth, justice and ‘all that stuff’.”
I just got back from a trip abroad. We were treated everywhere with the greatest respect while visiting our former exchange student and her family in Serbia and Montenegro, and then in Spain for a meeting, People were happy to help us. We had no Serbian (though I learned how to say “thank you”) and little Spanish (though I studied in high school it’s virtually gone), but they were happy to use whatever English they had. When we couldn’t communicate it was still all smiles.
As the latest spate of incomprehensible gun violence registered on the ratings-starved psyche of America’s once vigilant TV-News mélange, a spluttering assortment of clueless questioners tried to play ‘catch-up,’ querying anyone within sight or sound of the mind-boggling eruption for personal recollections of its immediate aftermath. For the most part, sound-bite oriented oracles gleaned the usual first-person responses, self-concerned and unadorned by conjecture of any kind. Motive and mindset of possible perpetrators were left to other, more qualified sources to discuss and surmise. Th
Cancer takes a staggering toll on New Yorkers. More than 107,000 New Yorkers were diagnosed with cancer in 2011, and more than 34,000 died from the disease. A different perspective is that roughly 2,000 New Yorkers are diagnosed with cancer and 660 individuals die from cancer each week.
Movies spotlighting characters who are fiercely individualistic always have appealed to me. For after all, we live in a culture in which conformity is the norm, in which one is expected to do what one is told without asking questions. Sometimes, cinematically-speaking, those who do ask questions become heroes. Sometimes, they become victims. But their stories are more interesting to me, just so long as those stories are well-told.
Attorney General Eric Holder is engaged in a war against states trying to ensure the integrity of the electoral system. As he noted, “The arc of American history has always moved toward expanding the electorate.”
While there is truth in this claim, it does not mean that felons, foreigners or those residing in cemeteries should be given the right to vote. However, Mr. Holder has used the power of his position to block Florida from purging its rolls of non-citizens or taking Texas to federal court over its photo ID requirement.
It’s a given that most of us, even those benefiting financially, agree our current election process is tedious and costly. In less than 200 years, it has evolved from small, exclusive meetings to a Henry VIII orgy, gulping down hundreds of millions of dollars. What our forefathers suggested be a simple process, simply isn’t anymore.
Our Constitution depends on our common sense. It says nothing about how political candidates should be nominated, merely provides guidelines to allow the development of political parties.
Despite our current national addiction to I-Pods, Face Books and Blogs, in many ways we Americans still mirror countless other cultures and countries. One such resemblance verges on superstition, in our slavish dependence on words that convey special powers; vintage expressions like “Open Sesame,” for instance… the magic password to certain nirvanas we’ve designated, that have survived time to convey special meaning.
Today’s health system often falls short in addressing the pain, physical symptoms, emotional concerns, and other chronic care needs that patients face. These needs are increasingly the norm for cancer patients and their caregivers. As medical care advances, illnesses that were death sentences a few decades ago have now become chronic illnesses that need to be managed. As a result, quality of life care needs now span over many years or even decades.