Our better hearts
“I wanted people to come here with a good heart, and I really wanted them to leave with a better heart.” These were Mark Miller’s words as he reflected back on his role in leading us in the “Coming Home” grand opening celebration of Homestream Park last October. Mark’s family and his Methow ancestors have lived in this valley for thousands of years, and his honoring of the fish, the animals, the soil, the plants, the water, the air, and all people, past and present, was inspiring and lasting.
It is this idea of moving forward with a better heart that has given me such hope and optimism during these troubling times. So many of us have come together to acknowledge the worst of our past and march in unison with those whose voices and lives have been lost under both overt and concealed racism embedded not just in our institutions, but in each of us. I’m no expert on the subject, but what I see and feel, finally, is a collective (for the most part) setting aside of our differences and defensiveness about this subject and opening up to an earnest attempt to really listen and learn, and to consider big changes throughout our society.
This is going to be hard work, but amazingly I believe it can be done in a united way. Beyond those who actually celebrate their racism, I think the soul of this nation, just like the soul of our valley community, wants this to change. And change soon! We’re just not yet in agreement on how to get there. Voting is a great start. And so is solidarity with Black Lives Matter, which doesn’t mean all lives don’t matter. That’s a false choice perpetrated by fear.
I hope our community continues to find ways to support this larger cause, but just as important, let’s consider our own history in this valley and how that is manifested in our way of life today. Let our better hearts lead us to a future where everyone who has ever called this place home, or seeks to, or is just passing through, can feel like they belong.
Phil Davis, Winthrop
Wear a mask
With a total disregard for a still out-of-control pandemic, the nationwide mobs of people protesting the death of one person are actually unwittingly causing the spike in it and the infection and deaths of thousands of other people.
On TV, you can see a big portion of them disregarding social distancing and not wearing masks. Just a few infected, unmasked people can spread it to a lot of unmasked healthy people.
In my opinion, having everyone required to wear masks, no exceptions, out in public is the only way to stop the virus. Granted, masks don’t give 100% guaranteed protection, but far better than not wearing one and being infected.
Some masks don’t close the gap alongside a person’s nose and can still let the virus be breathed in. I used fine copper wire in the seam to close the gap on mine.
Al Ames, Twisp
Support the good work
On June 16, I was privileged to join a short rally in Twisp to offer support to our local law enforcement officers. While peaceful protests of any sort should always be welcomed in this free country, the opposition towards people who protect the public is sickening.
A dark spot in American history was in 1975 when Vietnam vets came home from the battlefront, only to be met with the public’s disdain and scorn. When the War on Terrorism commenced, there was a strong shift in public response with a slogan of “support our troops.” These three words pushed the public to support their soldiers no matter one’s personal political agenda or views about the actual wars in the Middle East.
I cannot help but see the parallels between the past reception of Vietnam vets, and the current treatment of the police.
Police have always been asked to put their lives on the line in order to defend the public from enemies, both seen and unseen. Currently, however, there has been denunciation of the entire organization as opposed to recognizing that some individuals’ soiled deeds do not reflect the police at large. The fact that any of these brave men and women continue to serve a public that has turned their backs on them deserves only the utmost respect and gratitude.
There are good and bad people no matter what race, religion, or profession. It’s time the American public remembered this and recognized the good work that is being done by those in blue on behalf of the American people.
Kristina Liu, Twisp
Hold on tight to your health insurance if you can. If you lose it, you may never get it back.
When Trump was running for president, he promised to kill the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). He’s already made enough changes to cause millions to lose their coverage. If he wins his case in the Supreme Court right now, millions more will lose their coverage.
He also promised to replace Obamacare with a “phenomenal health plan” that would be a “lot less expensive” for the government, consumers, and providers, and provide “insurance for everyone.” Anyone seen a hint of any plan like that? Not likely.
The one part of Obamacare that everyone liked prohibited “pre-existing conditions” exclusions in health insurance. Trump had promised to keep it. In his Supreme Court case, he now says that has to go, too. Without this protection, tens of millions of newly unemployed Americans may never have affordable health insurance again. The same goes for anyone who ever tested positive for the coronavirus.
The insurance companies might even say the burden is on you to prove you never had had the virus, or coverage will be excluded for any organ that theoretically could have been damaged by the virus. That’s your heart, lungs, kidneys, etc.
We’ll know very soon whether the Supreme Court will accept Trump’s argument that the Affordable Care Act is completely illegal. I hope not.
Randy Brook, Twisp
Time for change
In light of recent events concerning the killing of one unarmed black person after another by police and white people in authority, I can only respond to these abhorrent cases of injustice with a shattering sense of shame.
The rage I feel as a white man is nothing compared to theirs, and yet they continue to live within the limits we impose on them. I know I couldn’t take it, if I were a black man. I grew up among them and it has always baffled me why they have not rebelled and died to try and gain the same freedoms we enjoy.
If we as a country are to truly change we must learn from South Africa. After the release of Nelson Mandela, the people went through a country-wide process of accountability, reconciliation, and forgiveness. They do not forget their long history of division and hatred, but listening to each other freed them from their past and the power it had over them.
We need to begin now that process of listening to their side, to address 400 years of oppression and injustice. And we need to ask for their forgiveness. Then we must act. We must do what they need us to do to make amends.
As we listen to them we will hear and finally understand that they don’t want power over us. What they want is to simply experience the same dream: to be free, equal in opportunity, to be treated fairly at all levels, and to be trusted to uphold the ideals of this country.
David Harris, Winthrop
Postal service idea
I read and hear various reports that the U. S. Postal Service is once again in financial trouble. This has caused me to believe that a change in policy could provide a solution. I pay yearly to pick up my mail from a post office box. I have been told and accept that this is because security is guaranteed with this method. A fleet of vehicles and drivers deliver mail to homes and mailboxes six days a week. No fee is charged for this service that entails costs for maintenance, fuel, and salaries for the delivery persons. I would suggest a fee charged to any mail recipient would be in order.
Dotti Wilson, Winthrop
Missing in action
The leadership of the District 2 Okanogan County commissioner seems to be missing in action. I am specifically concerned about the lack of an updated comprehensive land-use plan that does not address the future needs of this district. Is the lack of supportive agreement with the county COVID-19 plan an oversight or a political statement? I want leadership who makes clear their commitment to the well-being of this county.
In 2016, the commissioners passed a Comprehensive Plan for land use — this plan ignored many local, state, and federal regulations. After the threat of lawsuit, the commissioners agreed to revise the plan after the 2016 election — four years ago. Stakeholders held off the lawsuit while the county created a plan that was to meet regulatory requirements. Where is that plan? The internal process to produce a plan is inexplicably slow — or deliberately unwilling to comply. In 2020, the commissioners were forced to place a moratorium on subdivisions in the Methow Valley. This was a result of the inadequate 2016 plan. Leadership is missing in action.
It was infuriating and frightening to learn that the Community Health Director had been the recipient of personal threats because of contact tracing regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. I live in an area where the numbers of cases is still rising — this is personally impacting my life and my community. Where is the commissioner’s defense of, and support for: safe distancing, masks, quarantine, and contact tracing? Missing in action.
Community safety is an issue of health for everyone, regardless of where you stand politically. Lives are literally at stake. I am looking forward to hearing these concerns discussed at upcoming candidate forums. The current District 2 County commissioner is ineffective and absent.
I will be voting for Katie Haven.
Gail Brand, Brewster