Let’s build community

As the sickening violence of mass shootings continues to take place, it is incredibly evident that our nation lacks community.

The United States is not a piece of land, it is an idea. One of those ideas is based on the freedom to have community with each other. A simple way that Nebraskans can help prevent these acts of violence is to become more involved in the community.

Meet your neighbors, socialize with new people and make friends, even if they share different ideas of how life should be lived. Let us, as Americans, learn once again how to express our shared value of human dignity and life.

Community is the first step in raising the consciousness of those who may harbor hatred or violent intentions. We need community.

John Horsechief, Omaha

Who belongs in America?

Who belongs in America? Here’s the beginning of a list:

Republicans, Democrats, conservatives, liberals, progressives, radicals, women, LGBTQIA+ people, Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanic/Latinx people, Asian Americans, Jewish people, immigrants, refugees, people with disabilities, older adults, people convicted of crimes, people suffering poverty and people espousing Christian, Muslim, Jewish and other faiths as well as no faith.

It’s time to let go of the lie that America is a country just for white, straight, conservative, Christian men and embrace equality in our words, laws, social policies and behavior. It’s unacceptable to speak ill of others because of their membership in any of these groups or to deny people our rights. Keeping quiet while others do so is also unacceptable.

And while people who are in the U.S. without government permission may not legally belong, they are human beings with rights before the law who deserve dignity, proper representation and due process. Denying these rights is wrong.

Curtis Bryant, Omaha

Guns and mental illness

People with psychosis, bipolar disorder, depression and/or anxiety are actually victims of violent crime much more often than they are perpetrators of violent crime.

These people, while having above-average IQ’s, are most often overly reserved and tend to withdraw from society due to their illnesses. It is quite rare for people with mental illness to become acutely homicidal.

Very little evidence supports the notion that mental illness in and of itself causes assaults, let alone public mass shootings. No current psychiatric diagnosis shows itself in symptoms that include aggression toward others.

Being mentally ill is very different than being mentally deranged, outraged or regularly irate. Omaha has three-day programs for the mentally ill, where over 100 consumers meet for six hours a day with staff to work on their illnesses. There are around 500 such programs in the U.S. Why hasn’t there been one mass shooting in these facilities?

Our politicians vilify the mentally ill and add to the stigmas and stereotypes these people have to deal with, day in and day out. They don’t want to blame AK-47’s because these politicians are funded by the NRA and not by NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

All these shootings should be blamed on the mentally inept, not on the mentally ill.

Sean Bradrick, Omaha

Stores and gun policies

Walgreens, the pharmacy giant, joining Kroger and Walmart, said in a statement it is “asking our customers to no longer openly carry firearms into our stores other than authorized law enforcement officials.”

Seriously? And this will prevent shootings how?

Will the guy who just got fired comply with this request? Will the person who plans to rob the pharmacy comply with this request? Will the person who doesn’t like immigrants comply with this request?

How stupid are Walgreens, Kroger, Walmart and other companies? Oh, wait a minute. This is free advertising. And/or we’re all stupid enough to believe we will be safer in one of their stores. I hope it’s not the latter.

Doug Feagan, Bellevue

Stand united on trade war

Every American — including those in the news media, farmers, Democrats and Republicans — should stand firm and support President Donald Trump on his efforts to get a fair trade deal with China.

China continues to manipulate money, steal proprietary property, violate patents rights and make cheap knockoffs of patented American products.

If everyone supported Trump, the trade war would end quickly. Democrat politicians and the news media keep trying to say trade wars are bad for America, but I believe that allowing China to continue abusing us is worse and will destroy our economy.

Former Russian President Nikita Khrushchev said, “We will take America without firing a shot. We do not have to invade the U.S. We will destroy you from within….” China is fulfilling that prophecy.

The U.S. owes China more than a trillion dollars, and current trade with China will raise that amount.

Kenneth A. Becker, Omaha

A patriot running out of patience

One of the toughest parts of farming is coming to grips with how little you actually control in your business. Weather, markets and inputs are all factors beyond our control. To succeed in this line of work, you learn to patiently deal with it all in stride. And I have.

However, 2019 has been a challenge; between bad weather, trade disruptions and baffling decisions on biofuels, my patience is running really low. The final straw was President Donald Trump’s recent decision to allow a number of oil companies to waive their legal requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

As a farmer who listened to the president’s profound support for the American farmer and ethanol just a few months ago at the Council Bluffs rally, I find this decision outrageous.

Trump says he’s got our backs; that we’re patriots with unending support for him. While that may be true with some, I’d describe myself as a patriot with dwindling patience and faith in the president. In a year so full of uncertainty and endless hurdles, rural America needs the president to back up all his talk about farmers not add to the hardships.

Control is a funny thing. We worry about the things we can’t control and fixate on things we can. Right now, I’m fixated on getting better policy decisions out of the White House. Agriculture needs sound, stable policies right now. The future is hard to predict; come November 2020, my ballet will be cast for whoever can provide consistency.

Andy Jobman, Gothenburg, Neb.

Our compassionate Omahans

I was sitting in the parking lot at the Nebraska Humane Society, crying my eyes out, with a velvet pouch on the front seat holding the cremated remains of my wonderful dog, Mordie.

My heart was broken — sobs wrenching me, gulping for a breath — it was awful. What was not awful was the number of passers-by who stopped at my window, knocked on it to say, “Are you all right?” … “Oh, dear, what can I do to help you?” … “Please don’t cry” … “Can I help you in any way?”

This is not the exception here in Omaha — this is the rule. People here do care. Truly, they do. I have a hurt foot and was limping in a parking lot to get to the mailbox to deposit my item, and a young woman stopped and said, “Here, can I help you? Let me mail that for you.” She skittered off to the drop box with my envelope.

It seems the entire nation is going to hell in a hand basket, but as long as people care about each other, see a need to give assistance and step up to the plate rather than avert their glance and hurry by hoping no one notices — well, I am not ready to give up on us!!

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who offered me comfort and understanding in my dreadful sorrow.

Sunny McComber, Omaha

Formidable barriers

The Sept. 1 article in The World-Herald headlined “ ‘Angela’: a symbol of slavery and survival” is a reminder that one result of the slave trade was the involuntary immigration of more than 12.5 million people from cultures vastly disparate from those of the American communities into which they were settled.

Formidable barriers, formal and informal, were then erected to prevent assimilation. Those barriers have been readily enforceable due to differences in skin color and cannot be said to have been totally dismantled to this day.

And we wonder why integration has been so long delayed.

Richard Wittrup, Harlan, Iowa

Preserve our open spaces

I am tired of people who support the wind industry, touting that Iowa produces more wind energy than Nebraska. I am originally from the Adair County area, which has a large number of wind turbines, and know many people who are appalled that so many wind turbines surround them, interfering with the landscape they loved and creating constant noise.

I know that some people do not care for rural landscapes or open spaces and feel that landowners would reap great benefits by allowing towering wind turbines to cover their property.

However, people who do value the beautiful, open spaces of central and western Nebraska want to preserve these natural areas.

I’m against giving the wind industry subsidies to take away one of the reasons I love living in Nebraska. I am a strong environmentalist and believe we need to curb greenhouse gases. However, I do not believe that industrial wind farms are the answer.

Ron Beaman, Blair, Neb.

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