Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.  

In 2022, let's stop the blame game and embrace the commonwealth

To the editor: As we come to a new year, I enjoyed Dave Barry’s (syndicated) article hoping that 2022 will not be a lot worse than 2021 or 2020. It seems to me that a lot of the problems we face today are complicated, and our solutions are, well, too simple to do much good.

Our nation has invested heavily in police and prisons to solve problems that are caused by some big societal dysfunctions. If there were adequate affordable housing, sufficient jobs that paid livable wages, faithful efforts to root out systemic racism, and a health care system that allowed access for all, especially to excellent mental health care, we would have a lot less “crime.”

We place upon the shoulders of police officers, educators and emergency medical personnel the burdens of a dysfunctional society. It is no wonder we are seeing people quitting these jobs, and others committing acts of violence and cruelty. If we want to heal the body politic and economic, we need to see that these problems are caused, not so much by “bad people,” as systems that put too much pressure on ordinary public servants.

These issues are not like a broken leg that simply needs to be set and put in a cast for a while. These are issues that affect the whole of society and how we organize our common life. As long as we continue the bad diet of impoverishing wages, lack of exercise of our duties to the common good, and the intoxicating poison of forever blaming the individual for societal problems, we will not heal.

Support our journalism. Subscribe today. →

We need to own up to the ways in which we celebrate individual rights at the expense of the common good. Vermont is one of a few states that is described in our constitution as a “commonwealth.” This does not mean we own everything in common, but that what we own and do is intended to be put to the common good. Do our laws and systems actually work for the common good?

The truth is that our national economy, legal, medical, and political systems are skewed to benefit a few wealthy folks, while failing to make life bearable for millions of others. Government can change this, so that all people truly have opportunities to live healthy, safe and productive lives. For this to occur, we need to stop the blame game, the violent rhetoric and factionalism. I pray that 2022 is a year in which we embrace the commonwealth and let go of our partisan bickering.

Rev. Ralph W. Howe

Brattleboro, Dec. 27