The June 14 front page had a feel-good story about the trend in mega-home building (“Living large again at home”). As I read it, and looked at the photo of the very young, smiling couple standing in front of the foundation of their 4,000-square-foot home, all I felt was concern for the future. This trend, to use so much energy and resources for housing, reflects disregard for — or ignorance about — our resource-limited environment and the disparate effects consumption has on the global community.

On Page A6 the same day, an article told us that one of the world’s spiritual leaders (Pope Francis) is concerned about our “unsustainable consumption” and invites us to think about our moral and ethical obligations to respect the Earth’s limited resources. In my opinion, the choice to build mega-homes is selfish and shortsighted. By their actions, individuals who do so are ensuring that their futures, and the conditions of the world’s most vulnerable, will be bleak.

Wendy Hellerstedt, St. Paul

CHARLESTON SHOOTINGS

What needs to change can change, if we’d only act

The Star Tribune Editorial Board’s softball response to the attack in Charleston, S.C., raises the question: Why is domestic terrorism so hard to recognize? The answer is simple: because we don’t want to see it. We avoid naming the obvious because to do so would then require us to take action.

The first step is an open acknowledgment that we have a culture that worships violence, has a history of slavery and tacitly encourages deranged mavericks to carry out their nightmare fantasies. We make it easy and cheap to obtain weapons. We allow hatemongers to fill the airwaves and Internet with fear, invective and vitriol. We inculcate children with racist and homophobic nonsense. We produce TV shows that illustrate in lurid detail horrific crime scenarios. We create economic inequality and pretend it doesn’t affect the worldview of disadvantaged youths, no matter their skin color.

All of these things we do can be changed. The really difficult question is: Why are we so reluctant to act?

George Hutchinson, Minneapolis

 

RACE AND JUSTICE

Black crime, police brutality are two issues, equally important

Two recent items on the Star Tribune’s opinion pages suggest that the black community should stop talking about police brutality and systemic injustice and focus instead on black-on-black violence. James Densley and David Jones (June 15) say “the real issue” is not police brutality against black Americans, but rather “the phantom menace” of young black men. Tim Price (June 18) says “the core issue” is not unjust policing, but black-on-black violence. The fundamental flaw in these arguments is the premise that one societal problem is more important than the other.

Urban violence is an obvious tragedy. And reducing poverty, which is the key driver of black-on-black crime, should be a priority for all leaders. But the nationwide epidemic of police officers killing unarmed black men who posed no threat to the officer is also a tragedy. The two issues are not linked, and one problem is not more important than the other. Police brutality and urban crime are separate issues of equal weight that must be addressed with an equal amount of resolve by all Americans. Both problems harm black Americans.

Finally, the massacre in Charleston is vivid proof that black-on-black crime is not the only threat to peaceful black citizens.

Terrance Newby, Roseville

 

RACE AND LEARNING

Aaron Benner’s voice is one that surely ought to be heard

Congratulations to Aaron Benner for speaking out on behalf of African-American students (“Outspoken teacher steps up criticism,” June 17). He understands the importance of holding students accountable to higher standards of behavior so that they can be successful beyond elementary and high school.

As a retired teacher of three years in a very diverse suburban district, I witnessed this happening before I left. What used to be no tolerance became all tolerance. Teachers were expected to deal with classroom behavior that was disruptive to the learning of others with a lack of consequences. After some convincing, I realized that suspending students was not the best answer, however; there are ways to remove disruptive students from the classroom and allow them to earn their way back to behaving and being with their peers.

There are several districts that have enlisted the services of Pacific Educational Group, and in speaking with many teachers who have attended that consultant’s presentations, they don’t feel that there is a “courageous conversation.” They are being told that it is their racism that is contributing to bad behavior and low test scores. There is little room for voicing their opinions or concerns.

I don’t know that Benner is being harassed by the administration in St. Paul, but I do know that they should be embracing his views. I am not a fan of Fox News, but if this was one of the ways for Benner to get his word out, I am all for it.

Barbara Sowden, Brooklyn Park

 

POPE FRANCIS

His example and authority have been on display recently

I am a Protestant minister, yet I view Pope Francis as a great Christian with rare humility. For example, when once he was asked about a social issue of the day, he humbly replied, “Who am I to judge?” I couldn’t help thinking of Francis when I read of the resignation of Archbishop John Nienstedt, when the archbishop assured his listeners that he was leaving with a “clear conscience.” For all of us in the clergy, we might look to Francis for a model of humility, mercy and self-introspection. Blessed are the poor in spirit.

The Rev. Robert Haskin, Minnetonka

• • •

As I recall, the last time a pope spoke out with authority on consensus science, it was 1633, when Pope Urban VIII took on Galileo. The pope won — and science lost.

Jack Maloney, St. Paul

 

THE CURRENCY

Why it’s time for a change

I understand feeling protective about Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other famous early American men’s pictures on our currency — but if the decks had been stacked evenly at the time, there could have been women in those positions of greatness …

Becky Carpenter, Minneapolis

• • •

Regarding the new $10 bill, a June 19 letter writer erred when stating that Alexander Hamilton would be removed from the currency. In fact, Hamilton will be on the reverse side of the bill or in a separate new issue, and will remain on the present version for years to come!

Todd Meltzer, Eagan

• • •

When I learned a woman was going to be “featured” on the $10 bill while the current honoree, Alexander Hamilton, would remain, my reaction was cynical. Would the honored woman be shown staring up at Hamilton adoringly? Would she be off to the side? However, it would be possible to have two individuals on different sides of the bill and give them equal honor. So why just do this with the $10? It’s going to be really challenging to just select one woman.

It’s time to give women equal recognition on all currency. After all, every bill and coin has two sides. And it’s possible if we start acknowledging women as much as we acknowledge men, we might actually create a society where women and men were equal.

Julie Risser, Edina