Learning from all our history

Lawrence H. Geller asks, in the May 23 issue “from our readers,” if I support the removal of the images of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison from our currency. Why not? If the current administration in Washington had not stepped in, predictably, to block it, next year Harriet Tubman would have been placed on our $20 bills instead of Andrew Jackson, who was not only an enslaver but a key architect of the Trail of Tears.

This is not about taking Kate Smith, the “founding fathers” or any other previous humans to task for being part of their time and place. I have to assume, though it makes my stomach turn, that Andrew Jackson thought he was doing what was best, just as our current President clearly likewise assumes.

This is about learning from our mistakes of the past. We can take steps to remind ourselves of them so we do not fall into them again. We can listen to those negatively affected by them over generations, as they ask us to shift our cultural assumptions and stand firm for justice. We need to be, not so much “politically correct” (I gave that phrase up because I find it unnecessarily divisive), but humanly honest and accountable.

It is time we moved past sentimentality. Let us learn from the right actions, courage and visionary thinking of our forebearers. Let us also learn from their mistakes and wrong actions, and thus promote healing and life-supportive change. Let us give up blindly persisting in societal practices which reflect what another letter writer in this issue terms “Failing to learn from our past.” Our failure to learn could bring the demise of all we hold dear. We are able to do better. I pray we will.

Ellen Deacon
Chestnut Hill


Animals in hot cars

Last October, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 1216, the Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act. This new law is intended to protect animals trapped in unattended hot cars. In addition to possible jail time, penalties for breaking this law range from $300 for a summary offense to $2,000 for a misdemeanor of the third degree.

It allows police and other emergency responders to remove from a car an animal believed to be distressed or in imminent danger without incurring liability for damages. Civilians are not permitted to rescue a distressed animal nor are they protected from liability for damages caused by their actions to save an animal.

Last year, Michigan State University’s Animal Legal & Historical Center reported that 28 states have laws that deal with animals left in unattended vehicles. They either prohibit leaving an animal in a confined vehicle under dangerous conditions or provide civil immunity for a person who rescues a distressed animal from a vehicle. In the recent past, about 12 states have enacted laws that allow any person to rescue a distressed animal.

Tennessee is the first state to allow a good Samaritan to enter a car to rescue an animal with limited civil and criminal liability for damages after breaking and entering to save an animal. In 2016 California governor Jerry Brown signed the Right to Rescue Act which allows anyone to break a car’s window with limited liability for damages. Indiana is the only state requiring a person to pay half the damages.

Too many animals suffer irreversible damage to vital organs and fatal heatstroke. These tragedies are preventable. Veterinarians warn that there’s no safe way to ever leave an animal in a vehicle when the outside temperature is above 70 degrees, not to mention during hot weather. Even an outside temperature of 70 degrees can push a car’s interior temperature to 90 degrees in 10 minutes.

You don’t want to become your ‘’best friend’s’’ worst enemy. Log on to MyDogIsCool.com to learn more.

Bridget Irons
Chestnut Hill