Editorial roundup

Minot Daily News, Minot, N.D., Sept. 24

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Make sure to get your flu vaccine

If you are like most people, you buckle your seatbelt when you get in a car or truck. After all, with about 33,000 traffic deaths each year in the United States, there’s no sense taking chances.

So … Gotten your flu shot yet? Why not? Influenza kills about 24,000 Americans every year.

If you are young and healthy, you may not think you need to be protected against the flu. Those most at risk are the elderly, the very young and those with existing health problems, you reason.

That is true enough. But while you may not need to safeguard your own health through a flu shot, think carefully about those with whom you come in contact. Do you really want to take the chance of passing the flu on to your elderly parents or grandparents? How about friends or co-workers with chronic lung diseases? Or the baby?

One reason some people may have little faith in flu vaccine is what happened last year. It turned out that in developing it, scientists were wrong about what varieties of flu would be prevalent. That happens — but not frequently. This year, public health officials are more confident vaccines will target the most serious flu threats.

Flu vaccine is available widely at this time of year — and affordability is not a concern. Insurance usually covers the cost; those without that can get help at county health departments.

So yes, buckle up on your way to get your flu shot — but be certain to get it.

Sept. 20, The Sacramento Bee on Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S.:

Pope Francis’ visit to the United States this week won’t include California. It’s a missed opportunity. Rarely has such a secular blue state had so much in common with a spiritual leader: Hispanic roots, environmentalism, Father Junipero Serra, a certain star quality.

Though many Californians — including at least 100 Roman Catholics from the Diocese of Sacramento — are traveling East to be part of the historic occasion, it has been 28 years since a pope last graced this state. The Pope arrives Tuesday with a five-day itinerary that will include Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia. We welcome him, and hope his presence brings more of the nation around to a more Californian viewpoint during his trip, which will coincide with Climate Week.

Francis will meet with Congress and President Barack Obama and the U.N. General Assembly. He may run into Gov. Jerry Brown, who will be in New York for the climate change conference. And he’ll meet with legions of poor people and prison inmates. In this respect, he and California are alike, too — better acquainted than most with both the powerful and the deeply impoverished.

In Washington, at a Spanish Mass, the pope will canonize Serra, who founded this state’s mission system, and reach out to the Native Americans who suffered in the name of Christian salvation. A representative of the Ohlone people, who were nearly wiped out during the mission era, will do one of the ceremonial readings in the tribe’s native language, which until recently had all but disappeared.

We appreciate this spirit of reconciliation. This world hasn’t been open-hearted lately, and Francis’ example underscores how far we have drifted from each other. He is charismatic, and Americans have been swept up in a way that few would have thought possible only a few years ago during the pedophile priest scandals.

And it would be nice if that charisma were to soften some of this nation’s divisions, though that’s probably unlikely. The political left points to the anti-consumerism in “Laudato si,” his landmark encyclical on global warming. The right notes that while he has shifted emphasis, church doctrine is unchanged toward abortion and same-sex marriage. People see what they want to see in him, again, like California.

Meanwhile, there are his actual marching orders, which couldn’t be more counterintuitive to the striving, self-absorbed American middle: Money must serve, not rule. Take in the migrants. If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge? The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.

Here in California, Francis’ challenge is manifest in our burning, struggling, diverse, immigrant-filled, wealthy, poverty-stricken landscape. The challenges he sees are more than rhetoric here, from income disparity to climate change.

Religion isn’t the force here that it once was, but in these desperate times, we’re open to any help he can offer. In a nation that thought John F. Kennedy’s faith might keep him from being elected, nearly 31 percent of Congress now identifies as Roman Catholic, as do eight of the politicians running for the White House. How they greet this pope will be revealing. Here’s hoping he imparts some wisdom. Red or blue, East, West or middle, we could all use a little grace.