September 29, 2023

America is a young nation with still a lot to learn

An adolescent nation

Study: Mandates encourage more to get vaccine | Oct. 24

I have been trying to understand the unfathomable, that during a pandemic so many Americans refuse to get the well-studied and exceptionally effective COVID vaccine. Then came your Sunday story noting the theory of psychological reactance: “the tendency to want to do the opposite of what we’re told” — just like a healthy adolescent. Perhaps so many Americans are acting like healthy juveniles as a reflection of our country, which is still in its adolescence. Compare the United States to other nations like Switzerland, founded in 1291, and England in 927, and grandaddy Japan at 2,700 years, and our mere nearly 250 years makes us, what, 11 in country years? I guess we have a lot of growing up to do.

Terri Benincasa, Palm Harbor

The need for news

How Florida’s newspapers grew, prospered and struggled | Perspective, Oct. 24

In Sunday’s Times, two scholars wrote an informative commentary about the rise, development, change/evolution and future of newspapers in the state. One hopes in such a populous and important state, newspapers in some form will always be part of the education of the reader. True, the digital advance and changes in advertising will change the form of delivering the news, but newspapers have always been the best sources of detailed local news and sports and carefully separated reporting from opinion which is not always well practiced by cable news. Depth and details are always important to understanding news and forming your own opinion. Delivery of news today is ever more important in a diverse and socially and politically divided America.

James Gillespie, St. Petersburg

Freedom from religion

One mistranslated word altered abortion history | Perspective, Oct. 24

I would like to thank Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg and the Rev. Katy Zeh for their article about the origins of the present religious objections of abortion, but then they ended it with what I have been thinking about on this subject for decades. Overturning abortion rights is essentially allowing other people to force their religion on others. That, in and of itself, is wholly unconstitutional. We have, constitutionally, freedom of religion — and freedom from religion. These are private decisions, and our laws are not supposed to be based on anyone’s religion. Also, without autonomy of our own bodies, women are reduced to second-class citizens, basically chattel that is owned by the men in our lives. All these restrictions are a huge step backward for women’s autonomy and personhood.

Yvonne Osmond, Clearwater

Live free and die

No ignoring state’s COVID death rates | Editorial, Oct. 23

I grew up in the Northeast where I often had occasion to see a New Hampshire license plate with the motto, “Live Free or Die.” I always thought that was a rather intense statement for a license place, but it fit the personality of many people in New Hampshire. Now I think that Florida needs to borrow and adapt New Hampshire’s motto. Our license plates should read “Live Free and Die.” Since June, Florida has had the highest rate of death due to COVID-19 of any state in the country. Close to 59,000 Floridians have lost their lives. And if the governor and Legislature have their way, the numbers will be even higher. Bans on mask mandates, vaccine or test mandates, and removal of Florida from OSHA will lead to more illness, more hospitalizations and more deaths. Is this how we want the country and the world to view Florida? To be consistent, our fearless leaders should enact bans on seat belt laws and mandates for hands-free mobile devices. Then our motto can truly be “Live Free and Die.”

Jenni Casale, Palmetto

Longitudinal study

Supreme Court sets hearing on abortion law | Oct. 23

I recently heard a woman in Texas who said that with the passage of Texas’ new anti-abortion laws, more than 1,000 lives have been saved. Regardless of how you feel about the law, this gives those in the mental health profession a unique opportunity. I encourage them to study the lives of the families as well as those new Americans over the next 20 years or so. How did the families do compared to their lives before the arrival of the new addition? How did family/friends treat them (in comparison to others)? What were the experiences of the new children? How did they do in school and life in general? How did family and others treat them knowing that they were born as a result of a new law? How many went on to better/worse life than those before them? What conclusions can they reach based on this research? What do they think about the effect of the new on those families and new citizens as well as those who live in Texas and the rest of the country?

Tom Craig, Riverview