I question where Jonah Goldberg ("Despite everything, it's a great time to be alive," Nov. 2) has been living in the last many years.

I'm not usually a pessimist but, for my part, I've lived in this area my entire life and my view certainly differs from the writer's.

I grew up in the 1950s and '60s in Minneapolis. I hate to be one of those who looks back with pleasant nostalgia for those times again. I realize the shortcomings of that era. However, in light of many of today's concerns, here are some of my memories of a different time:

Safety: We kids could play outside until, and past, darkness without worrying about getting shot. I didn't know anybody who was worried about guns then. Now they are ubiquitous and kids don't worry about getting disciplined for staying out past curfew, they worry about getting killed. Today. the NRA lobby trumps the voice of the people. It's all about the money.

Education: I attended Minneapolis North High School and received an excellent education at a school which was, undoubtedly, as diverse as any in the Twin Cities. Our architecturally beautiful school was torn down and replaced with a nondescript structure with few windows, all of which are barred. And attendance has dropped precipitously from those days and has little diversity.

Homelessness: Parks in my time were for playing, skating, sports, swimming, skiing, etc. Now they also serve as a refuge for people without homes. Homes now are out of reach financially for many working people and others for a variety of reasons including a lack of mental health resources in these challenging times.

Wealth gap: Though my neighborhood was not very diverse racially, my schools were and I'm thankful for that experience. My neighborhood was, however, diverse in income. We had people on public assistance (though we didn't know this until later) living down the block from executives. Now, Minneapolis is a racially, financially and ethnically segregated city.

Leadership: I have always been proud of our city and state politically. There has been respect for other viewpoints and a sharing of ideas and votes across party lines. In those days long ago, I didn't believe that a lying, disrespectful, uninformed person that disparages everyone that disagrees with him would hold the highest office in this nation. That's what we now have.

So, though I'm happy to be alive and healthy, I think this is a very trying time to be alive. I remain hopeful for change in our common discourse and concerns for one another. I am hopeful for a time when, instead of spending billions on our elections we could offer all our citizens affordable health care (mental and physical), affordable housing, a livable wage and a world-class education. May it be so.

Barb Schachtschneider lives in Coon Rapids.