Eugene T. Paslov: Do not overlook fellow citizens at society’s edges
Two recent articles in the Nevada Appeal raised red flags. The first was F.T. Norton’s story, “Volunteers pay it forward,” on Nov. 16. The story emphasized the positive aspects of recipients of the Dayton food pantry giving back to the community by volunteering their services to the Healthy Communities Coalition. It is heart-warming and noble for those who need help themselves to volunteer their assistance to others. I felt very proud of my fellow citizens. What also caught my eye was the lead sentence in the story: “A year after the Dayton food pantry opened its doors, the clientele has doubled …”
That’s a red flag. If it doubles again, we’re in trouble.
The second Appeal story that caught my attention was the commentary that same day, “The Senior Center must improve food, facilities.” A group of seven seniors complained that the food quality had deteriorated; they were given small amounts of coffee and had to pay for seconds. They felt they were not treated with dignity.
I hope city officials take those complaints seriously, find funds to provide quality food services and display the respect our seniors so richly deserve. The red flag for me is that the quality of life in our community is at risk. The true worth of a society is measured by how well it treats those at its edges, not those at its core.
Finally, I just received an
e-mail alert from “Feeding America,” a national non-profit organization, that said 25 percent of our children are at risk of hunger. The USDA, Economic Research Service, reports 50 million Americans and 17 million children lack consistent access to nutritious food. The figure is growing. I would remind everyone that we are the richest, most powerful nation in the world.
I suggest to all of our elected officials, national, state and local, that more important than spending or tax policies will be working on quality-of-life policy issues. We need jobs that pay well and are stable, create communities that treat all of their citizens with dignity and respect (especially the elderly) and, finally, develop bold opportunities that stimulate economic community growth.
I am not so naive as to think that fiscal and tax policies are not important. They are. But our nation is based on the premise that we the people will promote the general welfare, secure the “blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity in order to form a more perfect union,” and that this concept is what is really important.
We care about the welfare of all our citizens and are intolerant of those who equate a compassionate community for an “entitlement society.”
• Eugene Paslov is a board member of the Davidson Academy at the University of Nevada, Reno and the former Nevada state superintendent of schools.