"Pack in, pack out" and "Leave no trace" will work ("Critics say Eagan's plan for park trash is garbage," June 1) . However, it will take a shift in thinking and a lot of planning. Both irresponsible and responsible personal habits already do and will continue to incur costs, whether at a park or at home. In the case of dog waste, the costs include the single plastic bag that collects a single deposit, the manufacture and purchase of the plastic bag, the provision of the trash can for public spaces, the payment for someone to haul away the waste, the maintenance of the landfill where the dog's waste will be buried, and the cleaning up of plastic bags that blow out of landfills and drift through the air and get stuck in fences, hedgerows and waterways.
Taking on more personal responsibility in Eagan can save the community the cost of disposing of dog waste, plastic bottles and food scraps left in the parks. If it seems like too much for a household to bear, please help us to make it work. Personal responsibility in many households already means degrading waste through composting and not buying single-use plastics. What we need now is a way to compost everything possible before it makes its way to a landfill or elsewhere.
Is it really too much to get serious about cycling out of the someone-else's-problem mind-set and sharing the burden of handling our own waste responsibly?
Marie Ward, St. Paul
SOLUTIONS TO VIOLENCE
Parents are to blame because ... ?
Lee Hayes' opinion piece "Solutions to violence must begin at home" (May 28) lays the blame for the increase in violence on the parents of the perpetrators without any evidence. It is an easy and appealing argument to make, as parents are indeed legally responsible for much of their children's behavior. The author goes on to cite as evidence the fact that in the past Black parents were able to raise their children better.
But that was then, and this is now. The world is a very different place. Not being a historian, I cannot attest to how things were then, but I can describe how things are now. To wit: Many parents, of all races, are single parents. Some parents have to work two jobs to make ends meet. This makes it hard if not impossible to know why your son is "not in class" on a school day. Then there is the ready availability of drugs and firearms. And social media didn't exist as recently as a few decades ago.
I am not suggesting that the Black parents of the past had it easy. But it is clear that today's Black parents are faced with challenges that they are hard-pressed to conquer on their own. And it is not as if the Black community isn't making efforts to combat violence.
In sum, Black parents need help. For example, how about raising the minimum wage? This would reduce the number of hours a parent needs to work and makes having a job more attractive to a young person.
In conclusion, I hate to say it, but suggesting that Black parents as a group are guilty of poor parenting is a subtle form of racism. It is just a variation on the racist view that the reason for Black poverty is that Black people are lazy — not because of systemic racism.
William Tajibnapis, Minneapolis
Bravo to Hayes for laying bare the lack of parents taking responsibility for their problem children, but maintaining strong control over children has never been easy and never will be, whatever the color of their skin. I was brought up with every advantage in a large white family of eight: strong discipline from strict, attentive parents and private schools and good mentor/role models in coaches, scout leaders, teachers and church leaders; I still had issues with juvenile delinquency, but far from the deadly crime and violence of today. It truly does take a village beyond parents struggling with their own problems.
Children must deal with their immaturity, hormones, peer pressures, youth rebellion years and too-often-dysfunctional and/or one-parent families. Unfortunately, parents will never have full control over their teen children to warrant "charges, fines and punishment" by law as Hayes suggests; we can only expect them to do the best they can. I am encouraged by a new awareness that "enough is enough," that communities are working together to monitor all at-risk youths and guide them to success in schools, jobs, sports and leisure and ultimately to help them become model citizens and thriving adults. This deserves the support and recognition of all of us every step of the way!
Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis
Two cogent and compelling pieces on the violence in Minneapolis were published in the paper recently by Hayes and Myron Medcalf ("A letter to the young Black men of Mpls.," May 30). Much appreciated and perhaps only utterable by African Americans in our midst. Unfortunately, those who perhaps would most benefit from reading these pieces may not have the opportunity or desire to read them because they don't have access or desire to read the paper. How will these messages reach the intended audience? One can only hope.
Tom Droegemueller, Mound
Blaming the parents when Black children and young adults do bad things or have poor outcomes is racist. When white children and young adults do the same things, it's usually not blamed on white parents for bad parenting. This is a blind spot as we examine race and racism.
White parents enjoy the privilege of having many other considerations taken into account when their children go astray. They get to have mental health problems as part of the explanation when their young men get violent. They also don't face the challenges of higher incarceration rates for the same behavior and crimes. They don't face the challenges of generational poverty and hopelessness. Their children usually don't have to cope in crime-infested neighborhoods.
This blind spot in our discussions about race is all a part of systemic racism in our country. Black parents, like all parents, do bear some responsibility for how their children are raised. But they are being treated abysmally in this racist denial of the true cause of what is and has been harming Black America. Our systems, including our groupthink of blaming the offspring's troubles and behavior on Black parents, are systemically racist. And by the way, historically, a characteristic of systemic racism is to deny the racism and blame it on something else. Blaming the parents is the latest way to deny that racism is the biggest problem we face.
Paul Rozycki, Minneapolis
Security threats have multiplied
As we memorialize those who defended our freedoms and even gave their lives for us, we need to realize that today our nation faces a grave peril beyond traditional warfare. We are acutely vulnerable to cyberwar, threatening our water, electricity, banks, energy and other essential services. And beyond this extraordinary threat, we are exceptionally vulnerable to the misinformation so instantly available through our social networks. Citizens unwilling to research the authenticity of what they read readily — and perhaps innocently or naively — swallow lies created out of whole cloth from deceitful sources whose only interest is their own disordered narcissism. The defeat of this enemy escapes me. How do we assure the truth of the information provided to our people? Frankly, I have no idea. I have only this insight and the dread that awareness of this danger creates.
We are blessed to live in a nation that values and preserves free speech. We cannot stop all the harmful consequences that also occur within that blessing, but each and every one of us who is interested enough to seek or listen to political information has a serious responsibility to assure that such intelligence we receive is genuine.
Willful ignorance is the most fearful enemy that faces us.
Shawn O'Rourke Gilbert, Edina
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