An article published in the San Francisco Chronicle detailing the devastation and survival stories in northern California has shaken me to my core. I’ve read some harrowing stuff, but mostly about humans killing and torturing other humans. But environmental disaster, fueled by climate change, can be just as harrowing if not more so. Our moral imagination must include those Americans displaced by the Camp Fire and others. Because if you can’t imagine what it might be like to grab your neighbor’s hand, only to find his skin disintegrating, realize that some in our country don’t have to. And, without immediate and collective action, more will experience the terror and pain of Paradise. Anything less is gross negligence, and young activists around the country are working hard to get our attention.

Louis Hunter, Minneapolis

• • •

As I watched the California fire devastation on Veterans Day television, I was reminded of how lucky America is to be situated as we are. “A friendly nation to the north and south, and to the east and west, fish.”

We honored the sacrifices of our armed forces, who died, were maimed or suffer from post-traumatic stress. But let’s reflect on the fact that for about 150 years, all wars have been fought on foreign soil, with someone else’s homes and families at risk of death and destruction. The fires are horrible but limited. Many countries have seen near-total devastation.

God has blessed us in many ways, not least of these our location. I sometimes think we should change our national anthem to “Over There.”

Edward Stegman, Hastings

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

Vatican dallies on one injustice, advances thought on another

Thank you for Cal Thomas’ Nov. 16 column, “Vatican fails in statement on clergy sex-abuse scandal.” It wasn’t withering enough. Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, an organization that compiles instances of clergy abuse, spoke the truth but with too much decorum in saying the problem lies with the Vatican; still, I expect she’d like to keep her job. And what about the bishops bowing to Rome? Where is their backbone? How do they sleep nights? The children of any faith are far more important than its mere officials. We are a church with or without officials. They are nothing without us.

Any Catholic whose rectitude is indignant over this latest affront to the laity and any person of faith who is galled by the church leadership’s egregious behavior is encouraged to write the pope and criticize his moral cowardice and foot dragging. Francis, since when is saying the truth about irresponsible church leadership the “work of the devil”? Get thee to confession and correct thy ways.

Eugenie de Rosier, St. Paul

• • •

Observing “World Day of the Poor,” Pope Francis on Sunday lamented that “the wealthy few feast on what, in justice, belongs to all. Injustice is the perverse root of poverty.” (“Pope decries ‘din of rich few,’ ” Nov. 19.) One can cherry-pick Bible verses and misinterpret what biblical justice really is, or one can Google the Hebrew word “tzedakah,” used often in the Hebrew scriptures, and conclude that Francis really is on to something.

David Hauschild, Blaine

GOVERNMENT AND BUSINESS

Mandates are repressive, as city finds with its food-stocking rules

Rarely does one read a more accurate and succinct account of government’s unique ability to harm business owners through uninformed legislation than on the Nov. 19 front page (“As foods go to waste, merchants seek relief”).

Minneapolis city government’s “staple foods” ordinance hits the trifecta: the belief that laws always will alter human behavior, ignorance of other cultures (in this case, dietary) and the belief that government has a right to limit free will (smoking menthol cigarettes — and, no, it does not).

Good intentions on the part of elected officials coupled with idealized ignorance of what it takes to run a profitable business always make disastrous bedfellows, as so clearly detailed in the article. Well done.

Donald G. Engebretson, Excelsior

• • •

The article about mandates for local businesses to have certain foods via a “staple foods” ordinance conveys the city’s proposal to amend the ordinance based on cultural diversity. I have a better idea. How about the city repeal the ordinance and let consumer demand and business owners make those decisions instead? Mandates on wages, mandates on products, mandates, mandates, mandates… . Has anyone from the city ever taken a class on economics or business? Who would want to open a small business in Minneapolis when it appears that the city, not the entrepreneur, dictates the business plan? Don’t amend the ordinance, repeal it, and let business owners, not City Hall, make decisions on what makes sense to put in their stores.

David Anderson, Lonsdale, Minn.

BASEBALL CHASER

Don’t you see? Bad press is good for him. (Not to mention good press …)

Regarding the lovely picture of our local baseball snatcher appearing with “Twins tell aggressive ball-snagger: You’re out” (Nov. 16) and in Readers Write on Monday: Wouldn’t it be more useful to follow the wise practice of omitting a perpetrator’s name and image when reporting “crimes,” so as not to create much-desired notoriety? He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named continues to gain fame through his narcissistic behavior. Yet again, he wins.

Susan Seim, Plymouth

• • •

I recognized Minnesota Twins fan Jason Gabbert from recent coverage in the Star Tribune about his alleged misbehavior while collecting baseballs at Target Field.

The allegations paint quite a different portrait of him than my family and I saw during a game this past season.

I witnessed Mr. Gabbert catch two baseballs in the first few innings and give both to children seated nearby. Gabbert later noticed my family seated a few feet away and asked my son if he was hoping to get a ball. Not long after, Gabbert was able to get someone on the field to toss a foul ball to my son, who was thrilled.

Several balls were thrown into our section that day and, other than the two thrown directly to him, Gabbert made no effort to pursue them or interfere with other fans.

Gabbert was friendly and polite to my family and everyone around him. He made three children, as well as their parents, very happy that day.

Kris Anderson, Buffalo

ALCOHOL AT COMPANY PARTIES

Wine and beer vs. liquor: People experience the effects either way

Regarding the Nov. 19 article “Mindful owners rethink serving alcohol at parties”:

I applaud the trend of no drinking or limited drinking at staff parties. However, there is a cultural misconception that wine and beer are somehow “safer” to drink than distilled spirits. Researchers have determined that the following are considered a standard drink:

• A 12-ounce bottle or can of regular beer.

• A 5-ounce glass of wine.

• A drink of 1½ ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (either straight or in a mixed drink).

For most people, it takes about an hour to metabolize one standard drink. Alcohol is alcohol, no matter. Please drink responsibly.

Maryann Kaul, Northfield