Queens Gazette

Letters to the Editor

Fly The American Flag

To The Editor:

The American Flag was originally adopted by a resolution by the Continental Congress on June 14th, 1777. Flag Day wasn’t officially recognized until pro­posed by Congress and signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1949. The week of June 14th is designated as Na­tional Flag Week. I therefore urge that the American Flag be displayed outside homes, apartments, offices, businesses and stores throughout the United States. We do this to honor all that our country repre­sents, which is freedom, equality and jus­tice for all. These principles and ideas are embodied in the American Flag. We should also do this to show honor and re­spect for all our brave men and women who are serving our nation today. And also, all those over the years who gave their lives to preserve our cherished free­doms. Our American Flag is the fabric of our country and by flying the American Flag we can be reminded that we prevail against all adversity. So please fly the American Flag on Tuesday, June 14th, and remember this too: These colors of red, white and blue don’t run. Now may God bless America!

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Bellerose

Let’s Try Kindness

To The Editor:

Here we go again trying to travel the distance from the latest horrible tragedy, possibly to the next, feeling at a loss for how to recover and heal the growing sense of grief and pain. Simple answers may not seem to offer very much, but when considering how to live the next moment, hour, week, month, or year, we might find relief in the option to be kind. Kindness offers us a source of boundless freedom found in new possibilities and a fresh set of endings for our stories. Our failure to trust the simplicity found in this way of seeing and being prolongs the agony of wasted lives and brutal consequences because violence and the suffering that it produces, is deeply rooted in patterns of human interaction. Again and again, we are being summoned to examine the causes of violence, but perhaps we are also being called to look at ways to make kindness as prevalent as the daily diatribe illustrating “man’s inhumanity to man.” What lies behind some of the recent high profile mass shootings are bullets, bigotry, bullies and alienation. Finding a way out of this madness may mean that we have to look squarely at these things and challenge ourselves to address them where they start. On the surface, none of this seems easy to do, but it just might be as simple as changing our minds. Real change will demand that we look at the hidden meaning in the use of violence to express an inner sense of powerlessness, fear and unresolved feelings of disconnection and isolation. A desperate desire to destroy the world that denies one the access to a perceived pathway to happiness, belonging and acceptance is the twisted root that creates many acts of violence.

Going deep to find the fundamental causes of violence will require a skill set that unlocks hearts, minds and spirits, freeing them from the bondage of festering negative emotions. Happy face emojis alone won’t do it, but acts of kindness just might get things started. Who were these people before they pulled the trigger and what was their experience of life? Who were the people in their lives and what were their interactions typically like? This is not to establish accountability and blame, but to start a process of thought that may prompt new actions and ideas about how we treat ourselves and others. In my hierarchy of acts of kindness, the best place to start is with ourselves.

So how do we commence caring for ourselves in kind and gentle ways? The answer to that question will have many individual answers, but one simple step forward might be to recognize that we indeed each have needs that require attention. Thinking kindly about this is a first step, because looking at our needs through a distorted lens might make personal needs appear as weakneses. Let’s start with the ideas related to comfort, affirming messages, good health practices and supportive ties to others such as friends, family and neighbors. These things will likely build a strong foundation to withstand the ups and downs of life while providing opportunities for joy, happiness and fulfillment. Take them out of the picture, and life can become a rocky road filled with disappointments and endless struggles; creating a tendency to withdraw and withhold rather than extend kindness to others. This elevates simple self-care to game changing importance because a lack of self-regard and self-acceptance can become a breeding ground for self-hate that can further develop into hatred toward others.

In contrast to the heavy-handed peddling of hateful expressions of anger, our biology tells another story; namely, that we are also hardwired for a warm and fuzzy brand of contact. The body excretes the feel good bonding hormone oxytocin which can be released in the body through hugging, reducing stress and alleviating anxiety. When was the last time you were hugged? When was the last time you hugged someone? Sure, the COVID crisis put a dent in the already beat up practice of hugging, but it may be time to re-enact this age old ritual. I recognize that many folks are scared off by the thought that an innocent hug could be misunderstood as a dangerous or unwanted advance; and an equal number may have had negative experiences or trauma from physical touch. For a resolution to this quandary, you will have to turn to a higher authority or your own intuition, but in instances where safe touch can be tolerated and appropriately exchanged, the benefits are great. “Hug More” has become my accepted slogan among family and friends, and there are so many more people who could benefit from the kind warmth communicated through a caring hug.

Think back to how your day started and assess if you were kind to yourself. What would kindness look like at the start of your day? What about at the end of your day? How would kindness look toward your spouse or significant other; the grocery store clerk; a peer or a stranger? Right now I am thinking that a nap would express a gesture of kindness to me. Just about an hour ago, I brought my husband a bottle of cold water as he toiled with planting in the sweltering heat. That gesture gave way to another which led to me slice watermelon for the two of us to enjoy when he finished with his labors. The more I started thinking of acts of kindness, I began to embrace a number of these types of actions.

Some untapped areas where kindness can be expressed are in the practice of discipline and responsibility. A commitment to action can flower into the discipline needed to engage in a health promoting practice such as exercise, healthy meal planning or the nurturing steps that build a positive social network of support. Being neighborly and extending a morning greeting can launch a revolutionary change because social isolation is at an all-time high for many who feel alienated and alone. Wellness calls and periodic visits to those who may feel out of the mainstream of life can make a huge difference. Taking responsibility for any number of simple gestures such as sending greeting cards, or photos and staying in touch all help to soften the hard edges of modern living in an era of rapid change.

Back in 2000 during the United Nations International Year of Culture and Peace, I developed a brochure to solicit stories about random acts of kindness. Even before that time, a great deal was developing along these lines, including the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (www.randomacts.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring people to practice kindness and changing the world. Just the act of writing this article has given me a renewed commitment to fostering a robust, intentional practice designed to express kindness because metal detectors and laws will not protect us if we continue to lose our capacity to be kind. It may be time for each of us to consider our responsibility for the peace that we want in our communities, countries and places where violence has erupted. The road ahead can be one that we shape through our individual and collective actions, so let’s get busy and show a little more kindness to ourselves and others. I will be watching and listening, and I feel that the light produced by these actions will guide us forward.

 

Dr. Sharon M. Cadiz
Astoria
To read the full letter, visit Qgazette.com

Metal Detectors Needed

To The Editor:

How many mass casualty incidents (MCI) have to occur for common-sense folks to rise and cause change? Half the country remains steadfast to their gun tot­ing rights and the rest of us remain idle. I cannot stay quiet anymore. I urge all schools in NY state have metal detectors and everyone that enters – from the princi­pal to assistants to teachers to kitchen/cooks to custodians to strangers – must be checked for weapons. The security guards have to treat everyone as a threat to our innocent children, but, especially the domestic terrorist; the lone wolf killer. Let’s prevent these MCIs in NY by imple­menting metal detectors at our subways, LIRR, Metro-North, office buildings, big box stores, places of worship, tourist attrac­tions, etc. This is what gun enthusiasts want. It’s us vs them. If we can’t make pol­icy change in Washington DC, then let’s protect vulnerable high traffic venues by in­stalling metal detectors. Life got more ex­pensive. You bet, because this is one life worth living.

Kosmas Patikoglou
Astoria

School Shooting Lessons

To The Editor:

The shooting in Uvalde, Texas shows the need to restrict the sale of assault weapons to just the military and police.

The shooting revealed numerous factors contributed to the massacre, including warning signs that were missed on social media, the school was not secured, and po­lice showed ineptitude in doing their job.

Somehow, social media posts should be monitored for potential shooter comments, and people should report these warning signs to authorities.

Schools should have entrances rein­forced and locked, and only one entrance should be used. Alarm systems should be installed on all entrances except the main entrance. Weaponizing and training a few teachers/administrators should be evalu­ated. Why wasn’t the Uvalde school police officer in the school at the time of the shooting?

Twenty Texas police officers stood in a hallway outside the Uvalde school class­rooms for 48 minutes waiting for a tactical police force to arrive. During the 48 min­utes students made 911 calls while sporadic shots were heard in the classrooms. These officers should have shot open the door and broken windows to confront the shooter. Local police officers should not be waiting for tactical support in a situation like this, but should immediately stop the shooter.

Donald Moskowitz
Londonderry NH

Ban Assault Weapons Now!

To The Editor:

As mass shootings continue to occur on an almost daily basis, it is time for Con­gress to enact a bipartisan law on banning the purchase of assault weapons by anyone 18 years of age or younger. There is ab­solutely no logical reason for any citizen of any age in this country to possess these types of assault weapons. Background checks need to also be tightened even fur­ther, as well as national red flag laws. No­body is looking to take away responsible gun owners’ rights to have guns in their homes. Many gun owners are in agreement that current gun laws need to be further strengthened. President Biden made it very clear that this carnage must stop. Congress must work in unison to make this happen, and it must work on it immediately. How many more innocent children and others need to be shot and killed or injured before any substantive action will be taken by Congress?

John Amato
Fresh Meadows

Shame On Government

To The Editor:

Three mass murders and shootings in three areas throughout our nation is awful. Shame on the American government for giving in to the gun lobby.

Crime and shootings are now “down” and statistics suit those who make them. Every morning, afternoon and night I hear on tv, radio, etc, that shootings and stab­bings are rising. We have bloody weekends. One life to lose is one too many.

On June 5,1968 Senator Robert Kennedy was fatally shot. Violence must end. I admire the mothers who marched across the Brooklyn Bridge but we must do more, and more must be said; it is easier said than done. Lip service is not enough.

It is a good thing that the NYPD will now be learning sign language or getting an interpreter to help hearing impaired people since they too have special needs.

I am glad that $375 will be given to fam­ilies of public school children as part of the federal Covid-19 act.

The price of gas is so high and inflation is ruining our economy.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

Purchase Larger Ferries

To The Editor:

There is no reason for some Roosevelt Island residents to be left stranded and un­able to board a ferry boat due to insufficient capacity. This was the case over Memorial Day weekend. Here is one way City Hall can find additional funding to pay for larger ferry boats to support greater passenger ca­pacity benefiting Roosevelt Island and other destinations served by the NYC Eco­nomic Development Corporation Private Ferry Operator program. The United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration will announce a NOFA (Notice of Funding Availability) in coming months. This is an opportunity to apply for a portion of the $30 million in Fiscal Year 2022 competitive grant funding for passenger ferry projects nationwide. FTA’s Passenger Ferry Grant Program, funds capital projects to improve existing passenger ferry service, establish new ferry service including the purchase of ferry boats, along with repairing and mod­ernizing ferry boats, terminals, and related facilities and equipment. Under this pro­gram, a portion of these funds are usually set aside for low or zero-emission ferries or ferries using electric battery or fuel cell components and the infrastructure to sup­port such ferries.

FTA recipients such as NYCDOT can also choose to spend whatever they receive under their share of 2022 Fiscal Year Sec­tion  5307 Urbanized Area; $6.4  billion, 5307 Passenger Ferry $36.5 million or Sec­tion 71102 Electric or Low Emitting $49 million for ferry projects. The Federal Highway Administration has funding under several programs including Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ), Surface Transportation Program (STP) and others which can be flexed or transferred to FTA can also finance capital ferry projects.

New ferry services can be implemented more quickly than construction of new sub­way, commuter rail or highways. These can take years or even decades until completion of environmental reviews, planning, de­sign, engineering, real estate acquisition, permits, procurements and construction be­fore reaching beneficial use. Completing all of the above, along with finding funding for ferry boats, docks and parking with costs in the millions is easier than finding the bil­lions of dollars for construction of new or extended subway, commuter rail or high­ways. Utilization of ferry boats equipped with fuel-efficient engines can make a pos­itive contribution to air quality.

Consider past history for federal support of the NYC DOT Staten Island Ferry. The nation’s largest municipal ferry system moving 66,000 pre COVID-19 daily rid­ers has benefited by over $1 billion in grants from the FTA (previously known as the Urban Mass Transportation Administra­tion),  going back to the 1970’s. A majority of the Staten Island Ferry system capital program, including the purchase of ferries, Staten Island Pier 7 ferry maintenance fa­cility, both renovated St. George, Staten Is­land and Whitehall Street, Manhattan ferry terminals, midtown Pier 79 West 39th Street ferry terminal, St. George, Staten Is­land ferry terminal replacement bus ramps and other support equipment neces­sary to run the system were all paid for pri­marily  with federal funding. Additional funding was provided to purchase and pre­serve the old abandoned North Shore Staten Island Rail Road right-of-way for future restoration of transit service. The original service was terminated in 1953. This would reestablish a direct connection with the St. George, Staten Island Ferry Terminal.  A past $450 million Federal Transportation Infrastructure Fi­nance and Improvement Act (TIFIA) loan paid for rehabilitation of the St. George, Staten Island Ferry terminal bus ramps.

Mayor Eric Adams, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine and the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation should ask NYC Department of Transporta­tion Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez to apply for these funds which could help fi­nance new capital improvements for initi­ation of ferry service to Coney Island. NYC Economic Development Corporation President & CEO Andrew Kimball can do the same on behalf of the Private Ferry Op­erators Program. This is another great ex­ample of Washington providing financial assistance to promote public transporta­tion.

NYC can also apply for capital grants from the New York State Department of Transportation to assist in funding. Albany also provides State Transportation Operat­ing Assistance (STOA). Ridership on any transit service generates yearly federal transportation capital assistance via the an­nual FTA Section 15 annual reporting process. Numerous past private ferry oper­ators have come and gone. They could not financially survive without government subsidy. MTA bus, subway, Staten Island Railway, Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad, along with NYC DOT Staten Island Ferry are subsidized by a combination of city, state and federal as­sistance for both capital and operating costs. All new ferry services will require similar subsidies to survive.

Who wouldn’t want to enjoy the fresh air and breeze that only waterborne trans­portation can provide? Riding a ferry can be less stressful than being on a crowded subway car.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

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