Social distancing is the work of social justice. We might be tempted to ignore this in favor of face-to-face gatherings because relationship and community are so important to people who care about justice and peace. But we are focused on social distancing to protect people who are vulnerable, elderly, ill and otherwise more susceptible to this pandemic. We do this not only — or even primarily — for ourselves, but to protect our families and communities. We do this as an act of solidarity.

So, even in the face of growing concerns, let’s look for ways to make something meaningful out of this significant disruption. Focus on the aspects of time and space allowed by social distancing to: practice good self-care, rest and eat and exercise, reach out to others who need support, reach out when you need support, express gratitude for the people who matter most to you, make a habit of self-reflection or prayer or meditation, gather in small groups and with distance to enjoy spring days or music or movies. Sing out loud or make art and create beauty to fight the worry.

Support local businesses and artists by buying gift cards for future use. Buy the groceries and supplies you need and leave the rest for others. Donate to social service organizations. Support people who face risks in social distancing because of economic inequality or domestic violence or isolation. Enjoy the wide-open spaces of parks and trails. And be patient with each other, knowing that we’ll get through this better when we get through it together (and six feet apart from each other).


• • •

Thanks to a Monday letter writer for the positive suggestions for those of us hunkered mostly at home. Here are a few more:

• Have a candlelit dinner.

• Peruse seed catalogs and plan a garden.

• Start a gratitude journal.

• Organize your pantry/cupboards and put the oldest food in front.

• Go through your old photographs.

• Send a care package to a friend.

• Reread a favorite childhood book.

• Cook something you’ve never tried before.

• Tell someone you love your favorite memory of them.

• Start sunflower seeds indoors.

• Get caught up on magazines.


What else are people doing?



Please, no more concert spaces

Rarely have I read a Star Tribune column as persuasive as the piece by Thomas Fisher’s, head of the Minnesota Design Center at the University of Minnesota, pointing out the folly of the current “plan” to redo the Upper Harbor Terminal in Minneapolis (“Plan for riverfront lacks foresight,” March 14). Fisher says that he does not “know of any new development, anywhere, that puts people by the highway and factories by the park.” In addition to blocking off the near-north neighborhood from the river and preventing housing from viewing the Mississippi, one more bad outcome Fisher does not mention is building yet another outdoor concert destination — with public money. Who believes the Twin Cities needs this?

From our condo, we can see Parade Stadium, the Walker Art Center hillside, Target Field — already perfectly good outdoor music venues. In addition, the metro area has TCF stadium, the St. Paul Saints stadium, the new soccer stadium, the zoo, Surly’s, the State Fair Grandstand and Canterbury Park, all of which already host outdoor music events. There are also many indoor concert venues like the Target Center, U.S. Bank Stadium and First Avenue.

PAT DAVIES, Minneapolis


You want that kind of capitalism?

I see George Will has started his Nikki-Haley-for-president campaign (“Haley picks a worthy fight,” Opinion Exchange, March 16). And while she would no doubt be somewhat better than the current occupant, let us examine some of Will’s assertions.

The Constitution is about capitalism: free enterprise promoted by the slaveholders Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington, and on and on — men who “competed” using unpaid labor held in bondage by the laws they passed, preserved and enforced. Yes, invigorating, freedom-loving capitalism.

And Haley’s South Carolina capitalism: I have in front of me an article from the State, South Carolina’s leading newspaper, from June 16, 2015, reporting the $123 million in incentives that then-Gov. Haley’s government handed to Volvo to snag its manufacturing plant. This is precisely the sort of rent-seeking that Will regularly condemns. Yes, that’s Republican capitalism — soak the taxpayers for private profit.

To Will, socialism leads inexorably to Nicolas Maduro’s Venezuela, yet corporate socialism — take from the taxpayers, give to Volvo — is the essence of liberty.

Will praises South Carolina for having changed “more, and more for the better, than any state in the previous 50 years.” According to recent statistics, South Carolina ranks 43rd among the 50 states in life expectancy, 43rd in income and 44th in overall health. Way to go, South Carolina! Naturally the states that are even worse are low-wage, anti-union states … like South Carolina.


• • •

Lions, tigers and socialists! Oh, my! I had thought we were long past the point where capitalism was considered to be an all-or-nothing proposition. The Great Depression, almost 100 years ago now, should have put the final nail in the coffin containing the notion that the tide of unbridled capitalism would unerringly lift all boats. I was wrong.

I would not dispute that capitalism has been a powerful engine driving a certain kind of progress. But I also assume that most Americans would agree that implementing and maintaining a social safety net to protect our less fortunate neighbors from capitalism’s sharp edges is not just an acceptable but a necessary function of government. Pop quiz: Who said, “The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped”? A) Hubert Humphrey or B) Che Guevara? It was, of course, that wild-eyed revolutionary and former vice president of the United States, the honorable Hubert H. Humphrey.

Socialists are the enemy du jour, and Haley sees creeping socialism everywhere. She brands as closet socialists her fellow Republicans who are crazy enough to suggest that running a business might possibly be about more than the single-minded pursuit of the greatest possible profits. She labels as socialist any government regulation standing in the way of unrestricted profit-seeking. Beware the socialists (or the anarchists/foreigners/hippies/commies)! They’ve come to take our freedoms. With such scare tactics, Haley roots herself firmly in the ’90s. Not the 1990s, but the 1890s.

GREGORY MERZ, Brooklyn Park



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