Letter: How I could have done better with my words - Must Read Alaska
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Tuesday, January 26, 2021
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Letter: How I could have done better with my words



I recently wrote an open letter advocating for reopening our businesses and refocusing our city’s resources on helping both the employees and employers hurting from the shutdown.

When I first read some of the comments in the ADN, I wondered if the letter I wrote had actually been published, or if it was some other very different one that people were responding to.

So I read it again and yes, the ADN did print my words faithfully and even added a title which, if I had been a better writer, would have chosen for myself. 

I then realized that my letter had, for many readers at least, been a failure. The message had been lost. For nowhere in my writing did I believe there to be hate but instead truly a call to greater, more effective, compassion and cooperation.  

Do I think we should reopen Anchorage? Yes, I do. Do I think it is possible we may close again? Yes, I do.

More importantly though, whichever course we choose, I strongly believe that as a city we must refocus on our neighbors who are hurting.  It is the duty of a government to help all of its citizens, not just the ones in hospitals. 

I also learned that I was ignorant of the importance of shamanism, both past and present, to our indigenous neighbors. No more ignorant, I dare say, than those who assume that any race has a monopoly on shamans.

In fact, every culture, race, and ethnicity has practiced – and in some cases still do practice – shamanism.

When I wrote the line about witch doctors, shamans, and quacks, the faces framed in my mind’s eye were coincidentally white, peering into a cauldron or selling snake oil from a Conestoga wagon, perhaps because I happen to be white.

Just as Europeans have not had a monopoly on violence, imperialism, or any of the other heinous barbarities of history neither have Alaska’s Inuit or Yup’ik enjoyed a monopoly on shamanism. 

In this ignorance I realized that I had given offense in a way that my upbringing makes me particularly sensitive to, as I too am proud of my heritage.

With this understanding in my heart I sincerely say I am sorry.

Finally, I am reminded that when we see something new – a new idea, a new person, anything – we can choose to judge it or be curious about it. It is easier to judge but, by being curious, we can learn something new. For me this time it was new knowledge about a part of Alaska’s Native heritage.

But even more than that, by being curious, I realized that I have an awful lot in common with the folks who have commented on my letter, even the angry ones.

Perhaps if more of us can take a moment to be curious about a new idea, assume the other person is sincere, we can take some small steps to building a better city together.

John Morris, M.D.

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Latest comments

  • This is the problem with conservatives today. You say something that offends a particular individual or group and you are forced to apologize. Stop apologizing, we have opinions and if that offends you; hate it for you.

  • That is not just a “conservative” issue. Your post amply demostrates just that.

    It is a human weakness as a species.

    As humans, we have an ability to learn and adjust.

  • When are they gonna change the name of the Vikings or the Idaho Vandals? And how do Catholics feel about the Saints? Aren’t Bengal tigers endangered? And everyone knows fighting Irish are usually drunk.

  • Stop apologizing. Your apologies mean nothing to the perpetually offended.

  • Some will always get butt hurt, no matter what some say, you will never please everyone so don’t try, just he honest. I’m a half breed Alaskan and proud.

  • Any chance they get, they’ll try to twist it into something. We all have opinions, and deserve the right to express them. I know quite a few M.D.’s who share your concerns but do not voice them publicly because of the fallout. Like the protest in DC, the opportunity exists itself to discredit any other views. I have been in close contact with the majority public for some time, and I can assure you that most of the public is sick and tired of the redirect of the loud minority that are Constantly calling foul or hurt feelings. They obviously were not beaten enough by their parents because they never grew up. And never served in the military, because all racial barriers disappear there. We used racial slurs constantly but they were not ever used seriously and nobody was exempt. And no hurt feelings. We worked together and played together and watched each other’s backs.

  • People gotta eat.

  • The newspaper has been suggesting that the COVID-19 numbers are coming down. I question that idea. If you take a close look at the number to tests in a day versus the number of new cases, it really has not changed throughout December very much. At one point about 8000 tests a day were being done which found a certain number of cases. This was a high number. Now with testing at about 4000 a day, surprise…fewer cases are being found.

    It is only my opinion but closing down the restaurants for all of December and then keeping many closed because of the 25% capacity rule is just not a solution. I do understand and sympathize with our leaders…if they do nothing, they will be severely criticized. It is just a shame to kill businesses and livelihoods for very little COVID-19 gain.

    There is much truth to CKBII’s comments. I, too, am a bit tired of some people always choosing to take offense. I guess this is one reason why so many conservatives are being muzzled by Facebook, Twitter, and the many other platforms. This way the “offensive comments” need not be heard. Of course the “reason” for the massive censorship is couched in different terms.

  • Never apologize for being right

  • Shamanism is Paganism. The New Age JudeaChristianity/Indigenous Spirituality is Why I am staying OUTSIDE completely distancing myself from any Native political, cultural, and social gatherings. My grandmother’s people are lost and worse of it all they have rejected the Truth even after its been brought to them.

    • We are commanded to pray for them; and we must.

    • They were given half-truths, laced with an abundance of lies. Three examples:

      Trinity … False. It’s monotheism, which denies either the Father, or the Son. If you do not have the Father, you do not have the Son. If you do not have the Son, you do not have the father. This is the Jews stumbling block, which the Christian church has repeated, only in different terms.

      Young Earth … False. Stars evolve explosively, forming heaver elements each time. The later events taking less than a second, without leaving any semblance of the previous. Our universe is fractals, from macro to micro. The micro mirror the macro. The whole universe, and everything in it evolves, including humans. My take is that Adam and Eve were the only humans created by divine fiat. Their children then married into the natural humanoid race to bring the divine light into it. The creation stories are shepherds ballads, Oral accounts with zero scientific value.

      God and Jesus … God is a title, not a name. Jesus was a jew, who’s earthly name was Yashuah. Their collective name is Yahweh Yahweh. Either may be referred to in the singular as the two are of the same Self-Sustaining-Life-Light. Yashuah is distinguished from every other, as “Yashuah The Anointed” (as Yahweh with us). Yashuah is a proposed transliteration of the original Hebrew name of Jesus (Hebrew: ישוע‎). Some have it as Yeshua.

      No wonder our people stumble. They were given such a dim light to see by.

  • The irony of it all. So many play the victim because being a victim now in America is very profitable. I don’t blame the pseudo-victims per se. How can we blame people for seeking the easy path to profit that victimhood provides? Morris is so clueless to this pathology he actually apologizes for his contrived notion of offensive speech. He fails to see that his apology actually feeds and promotes the victim-ideology narrative.
    Who is responsible for a spoiled child? The child or the parent?

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