Three Rivers Pastor James Smith writes, “God does not just work through miracle cures, but through science, medicine, and above all love. It may be that what is being tested right now is not our faith, but our love. Do we have the love to get a shot that we might not think we need but that will help us not get someone else sick? Do we have the love to come together as a country and as the world to defeat a common enemy to humanity?”

David Hecker writes, “Under (the School Aid budget bill), foundation allowance funding for public schools across the state will be equal, meaning nearly every district will receive the same dollar amount per student. This is a positive change that will benefit students and educators — but, as (Gov. Gretchen) Whitmer herself acknowledges, it’s not enough.”

Charles Morris writes, “Our faith teaches us to look out for one another to address the crises before us, and as our nation continues to recover, we must now turn our attention to the climate crisis and environmental justice. A bold investment in clean energy infrastructure currently being discussed in Washington would do just that. This is an opportunity to invest in a clean energy future while addressing the injustices of the past.”

Taylor Hirth writes, “On a sunny Wednesday a little over a month ago, my 7-year-old daughter bravely held my hand as we walked into Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City to participate in a pediatric vaccine trial. […] I am sure there are some people who cannot fathom allowing their children to participate in medical research. I understand their hesitation. I am not one of those parents.”

Columnist Trish Zornio writes, “If we don’t act now, masks could become a long-term fashion accessory. In the past 14 days, the United States has seen tremendous growth in COVID-19 cases again. This has included a 36% increase in hospitalizations and a 26% increase in deaths. With the more transmissible delta variant, infection rates are likely to keep rising quickly. As expected, over 99% of deaths and 97% of hospitalizations were in unvaccinated people. If you’re vaccinated, it doesn’t affect you then, right? Wrong.”

Rick Haglund writes, “[…] At a time when most new jobs paying a living wage require a certificate or degree beyond high school, Michigan is falling far short of needed support for higher education. The result is a state economy that lacks enough skilled and highly educated workers needed to attract technology and other knowledge-based employers.”

WSV’s Charles Thomas writes, “Denial is considered an unhealthy defense mechanism while suppression is considered healthy. Sure, you could sit around all day and ponder the inevitability of death, but thanks to suppression, most of us are able to put that nasty little detail out of our minds and do the dishes, mow the lawn or write the column. But the denial of death, on the other hand, can lead to people making risky decisions or living what Plato called ‘an unexamined life.’ When it comes to defense mechanisms, it’s important to make the healthy choice.”

WSV Columnist Amy East writes, “In researching my own genealogy, I’ve found a number of ancestors who fought for the idea that all men were created equal in the American Revolution, and some that owned slaves. The movement of my ancestors to Cass County was very near to the time the Potawatomi were forcibly removed. Were they involved? I don’t know. Did they benefit? Without a doubt. But just because this knowledge might make me uncomfortable, or challenge how I’d like to see myself, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. When you ask ‘what did you learn that you didn’t know before?’ you don’t get to choose if that knowledge aligns with your worldview. That’s the cost of curiosity, my friend.”

Michigan Advance’s Susan J. Demas writes, “We’ve rethought a lot of our ideas about conservation since Yellowstone was established as the nation’s first national park in 1872. Roads were built everywhere to accommodate travelers, often with little regard for the lands that were supposed to be protected. Wildlife was fed for visitors’ amusement, but we’ve sadly learned the toll that’s taken on the parks’ first inhabitants. Stemming the flow of visitors in our busiest parks is a win-win for the environment and weary travelers who will have more space to revel in their majesty.”

WSV’s Lisha McCurry writes, “As a therapist, I wept for every client in the LGBTQIA+ community I’ve worked with who sat across from me in pain, in shame, experiencing self-doubt or internalized homophobia. Clients who I managed to bond with over superheroes and general nerd-dom, underdog stories and the fantasy worlds they escaped into when our real world was too much. I imagined them in that moment, seeing themselves on that screen, thinking ‘Loki’s like me? That’s so amazing.’”

Michigan Advance’s Peter Ruark writes, “COVID-altered life in Michigan continues to reveal the inadequacy of many of our state’s social policies and safety net systems, and a new report from the Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP) demonstrates how Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance policies are falling short in providing an adequate and effective safety net for unemployed workers. The Michigan Legislature must address these shortcomings rather than chip away at UI protections as it did last week.”