Forum, Dec. 8: Vigils promote end to gun violence

Published: 12/7/2019 10:00:15 PM
Vigils promote end to gun violence

Saugus High School, Santa Clarita, Calif. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Fla. Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Conn. Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh, Pa. Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va. Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, S.C. What do all these have in common? These are the places, among too many others, where mass shootings occurred. Isn’t it time to assess our love affair with firearms and find ways to stop gun violence?

There will be a candlelight vigil on the green in Norwich on Friday, at 5 p.m., followed by a program at 5:45 in the Norwich Congregational Church, as part of a nationwide action to give voice to all victims and survivors of gun violence. Then on Saturday, from 3-4 p.m., there will be a vigil in Hanover on Wheelock Street across from the Hanover Inn. The goal of both vigils is to promote ending gun violence in America.

On Dec. 14, 2012, a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School killed 20 elementary school children and six adults. On Nov. 14, one month ago, a shooting at Saugus High School killed two people and injured four. When will we decide that enough is really enough?

Please join us on Friday and Saturday. Wear warm clothing and bring a sign or a candle.



‘Mental Health First Aid’ classes

In response to Jim Kenyon’s recent column, “Protecting DHMC” (Dec. 4): It’s hard to comment on the situation that occurred without knowing all the facts, but I would like to express my sympathy to the injured nurse and emphasize that the vast majority of people living with a mental illness are not violent.

Understanding what to look for when someone with a mental health disease presents and knowing how to de-escalate a situation from an informed perspective are two key factors needed to provide the right kind of help. Even well-intended police engagement can be difficult with agitated or distressed individuals, especially when complicated by mental health issues.

To help our community better understand these issues, West Central Behavioral Health has been offering “Mental Health First Aid” classes throughout the Upper Valley and Sullivan County to teach people how to recognize and respond to those in crisis. It’s an eight-hour class that has been extremely well-received by educators, parents, students, public leaders, law enforcement personnel, business community members, first responders and health care workers. New classes for 2020 will be scheduled soon. Please keep an eye on the website for information.


West Lebanon

The writer is chair of the West Central Behavioral Health board of directors.

Bad leadership on Newport board

If Linda Wadensten has any respect left for our school district, she should announce her resignation as chair of the Newport School Board as soon as possible. The district wasn’t in very good shape upon her arrival, but with her lack of leadership, on all levels, she has taken our district right to the bottom.

From her position on the School Board, Wadensten oversaw so many destructive actions in our district — the Towle School situation, destroying the bus terminal and dysfunctional school budgets, for just three examples. As we welcome a new superintendent, Wadensten must give this person a chance to make our district great again without any advice or influence from her.



My holiday wish: No nuclear war

One of the things I am giving thanks for this season is that the Trump administration has not started a nuclear war — yet. Are you aware that this president, and all presidents before him, has the sole authority to order a nuclear missile launch? Uneasy yet?

The United States reserves the option to use nuclear weapons first, but this policy is dangerous and unnecessary. We can protect this nation and our allies without threatening to start a nuclear war. Shouldn’t we be asking all the candidates for president traipsing through our region where they stand on nuclear weapons, including the president and his supporters?

As the Union of Concerned Scientists observed in a recent statement (which I co-signed based on my years working on this issue), the United States keeps hundreds of nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert, increasing the risk of mistaken launches in response to false warning or an impulsive president. Uneasy yet?

Our world faces two major threats to our existence: climate change and nuclear war. Many of us now speak up about the need to face the challenge of climate change. We need to do the same when it comes to the threat of nuclear war. Now, rather than later.

Please join me and thousands of others in early caucus and primary states in asking presidential candidates where they stand on U.S. nuclear weapons and what their plans are to reduce the risks they pose. And after the primary, let’s keep asking these questions with our own congressional delegation as Congress has a key role in these policy decisions.



Climate change must be our focus

Think about it. If climate change is not the main focus of our governments, and even if we tax billionaires, federal funds will not allow for free college, universal health care, child care and all the other great improvements. We will instead spend it all on wildfire, hurricane and tornado recovery, moving cities inland, and loss of life and property. Victims around the world will flee from country to country for relief. It’s a world problem, but our response could lead. Shall we take strong action, or just go right on over the cliff?



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