To change the tone, we must first change the discourse
By Bette Dewing
“Help!” was the final word of my last column, “Overcoming Heedlessness,” and will be the last word of this column. But how to help and change things? Well, many years ago during the city’s acute water shortage, then-Mayor Ed Koch urged everyone “to talk about it” and act. Experience has taught me to copy media with the letters and calls that I make to elected officials, city agencies and 311.
A really out-of-the-box Rx for our ailing society would be for CNN’s new Kathleen Parker-Eliot Spitzer talk show to understand that there’s more to discuss and bring to light in our country than just politics.
There are pressing social conditions and issues such as the one that cost Spitzer his governorship. Sexaholics Anonymous and other such related groups get shamefully little coverage in our society, which increasingly misuses and abuses sexuality.
Why don’t they talk about the incredibly cruel bullying habits of too many young people, which have anguished some of the victims into committing suicide? A prime example is the story of 18-year-old Rutgers freshman and beloved son, Tyler Clementi, secretly videotaped by classmates, who then streamed a very private act over the Internet.
Thankfully, this highly publicized suicide has sparked international concern and support, but “no known cause” suicides like the 18-year-old Fordham freshman, Jacob Miller, who was found hanged in his dorm room that same week, lack such support. Only the Daily News covered this beloved son’s tragic death.
Let’s urge Spitzer and Parker to bang the drum loudly enough so that every despairing young person will know that their life is bound to get better, and also that if they end their lives, those who love them will suffer forever. Male consciousness in our society must be raised so that they know it’s OK and manly to share personal problems. And we must revive Warren Farrell’s Men’s Movement, which addressed the unjust, false pressures and demands that males face, often silently, in our culture.
Those prevention talks must also stress the Sept. 30th New York Times story “Four Suicides in One Week, Takes a Toll on Fort Hood,” about members of the Armed Forces who have committed suicide.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide among military personnel is four times higher than the national average. Attention must be paid!
In our little neck of the woods, I’d like to see more on the Oct. 5 story in the Times, “Subway Work on Second Avenue Orphans Stores,” by raising awareness for all New Yorkers—and above all, elected officials—to give our support and patronage to the stores and eateries that are struggling to remain open.
Also, we must protest sharp service cuts to bus and subway services and yet another fare hike. A severe hardship for many of us, as well as increased traffic dangers as more private vehicles crowd into our high-density streets. We must demand that city, state and federal government provide the funding to restore these essential services upon which the overall health and safety of New York depends.
In addition, we must report how many who complained to Rep. Carolyn Maloney about the new hybrid articulated bus’ serious flaws were told to list them in letters to be sent to the MTA. Then do another report on how the MTA’s page-and-a-half reply justified every unsafe and uncomfortable aspect of the bus’s multi-leveled and cramped interior.
We should also talk about a jury ruling against an elder woman whose pelvis was fractured in a fall caused by a bus driver’s “jack rabbit” start. And then warn how the hybrids start up that way “naturally.”
Just maybe Parker and Spitz will start a talk-show trend where attention gets paid to some basic, not trendy, human needs and dilemmas.
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