Count blessings instead

of cataloging hurts

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

A small, single-occupant RV in a parking lot triggered words in my mind, like the blinking of a neon sign.


“Time out.”

“Take a break.”

Somehow, I seem to need messages like that these days, living in an atmosphere that bombards me with negative input. Political pundits slug it out in the news media. Headlines glare at me with accounts of atrocious behavior. Language and concepts reeking of gutter instincts assault me. I want it to stop.

Where is sanity? Where have human decency and honorable behavior gone? Depressing images aimed at sucking the joy from daily existence attack me. What has happened to virtues and values we once espoused at the heart of American life?

What happened to the “Land of the free, and home of the brave?” Where have we stashed sentiments that declare strength comes through the unity of divergent cultures and backgrounds, “E Pluribus Unum”? I remember when the slogan “In God We Trust” was added to our currency. In whom are we trusting today?

It’s time for an intermission.

It’s time to pause and take stock of where we are and where we’re heading.

It’s time to drain out the noxious impulses that threaten to govern our lives.

Most of all, it’s time to recapture the positive. Take time out to rethink negative things that bounce around in our minds and spirits. Let the sounds of birds surrounding us lift our spirits. Let’s count our blessings, not catalog our hurts and anger. Let’s step back, surrendering our perceived need to control others.

Let’s take an intermission from the darkness engulfing us, replacing it with light, love and hope. It’s an intermission we can’t afford to postpone.

Hugh Harris.

North Chesterfield.

Failure to compromise

dooms much legislation

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

“Equilibrium” is most frequently defined as a state in which opposing forces or influences are balanced. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary adds a state of adjustment between divergent elements. “Compromise” is the settlement of a dispute by each side making concessions.

It is clear that our elected officials have rarely reached a state of equilibrium because of their unwillingness to compromise on practically any issue before them. The framers of our Constitution knew that there would be at least two sides to many decisions and felt that rigorous debate was healthy. However, they also believed that respectable representatives elected by their constituents would be of high character and would come to an acceptable resolution. They also expected that, once that resolution was determined, all politicians would put their differences aside and support fully the outcome.

The framers also knew that rules of order needed to be developed and strictly enforced or chaos would result.

U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, has only been in that role since January 2015, but he has already identified the problem. He states that Congress, in its knee-jerk rush to pass a new law, usually writes very vague language. The imprecise wording in the law passes the responsibility to the president and administration to interpret what Congress meant. Once interpretations are made, one political party or the other protests the action of the president and staff. Then lawsuits are filed and often end up in the U.S. Supreme Court for final resolution. Sasse states that this is the reason U.S. Supreme Court confirmations are so volatile.

The state of affairs in Washington today is the worst I have experienced in my lifetime. We have to come together, or we will surely fail.

Robert N. Holt.


RPD’s Mounted Unit

deserves a new facility

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I am honestly dismayed that the Richmond Police Department’s Mounted Unit has to operate out of a dilapidated, condemned barn under Chamberlayne Avenue. I drive past the site frequently and it is shameful that another better spot hasn’t been located.

On the one hand, I wonder why a better facility hasn’t been found. But, on the other hand, I’m curious about why we even have horse-mounted police officers. I mean, what century are we in anyway? When they spot criminals, do they break out their lance and joust with them? Does the city employ a guy with a shovel and a wheelbarrow to follow them on patrol to clean up behind them?

These are all questions that City Hall needs to answer.

Howie Hall


Mental health care system

in Virginia is in crisis

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

My wife and I are longtime teachers in Colonial Heights. We have seen a lot of children struggling with mental health issues. Because of our familiarity with the local mental health system (we have had to navigate this for the past several years for our daughter), we were helping the family of a former student who was trying to get help for their daughter. This 13-year-old had reached the point where the parents could no longer ensure her safety.

Having dealt personally with Virginia Commonwealth University’s pediatric emergency room and psychiatric staff, we encouraged them to go there. The doctors wanted her admitted to a psychiatric hospital. They were waiting in the ER for 29 hours because no available beds could be found in the area. Finally one was found in Falls Church, more than two hours away.

There is a quiet crisis in mental health services in Virginia. There are not enough mental health staff and facilities. Imagine your loved one going to the ER with chest pains and being told there wasn’t a bed at that hospital. They would keep him stable, but would have to call around to find a bed at another hospital … maybe one that is an hour or more away. And it might take awhile. Society wouldn’t accept that. Why are we accepting this?

I ask Virginia’s House Speaker Kirk Cox, Sen. Amanda Chase and candidates Sheila Bynum-Coleman and Amanda Pohl: What are you prepared to do to address this issue?

I ask them to put themselves in that family’s shoes and sit in the ER for 29 hours with a child in crisis because there isn’t a bed available locally… only one more than two hours away. If you are elected, or re-elected, what will you do to address this crisis?

Rick Ridpath.

Colonial Heights.

Smoking age hike

hard on tobacco addicts

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

The lawmakers who raised the smoking age to 21 did not give their action much thought. The 18-year-olds are addicted to tobacco just as if they were addicted to any other drug and cannot quit cold turkey as the lawmakers envisioned. The law should have provided some slow method or time frame to handle the addiction. At present, they are committing a crime when they purchase cigarettes or have an adult buy for them. I am surprised Gov. Ralph Northam would sign off on such a law since he is a doctor and should know better.

Con Spiratos.


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