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Life in America is filled with massive quandaries, or states of uncertainty or perplexity that require a choice between equally unfavorable options, as well as perplexities, or trouble or confusion resulting from complexity, that require more understanding than simple answers will resolve. Way too many of us can’t seem to understand that there are no simple answers. Here are a few conundrums that we’ve been wrestling with.

Guns: One of the few things we all seem to agree on is that if we outlaw guns only outlaws will have them. From there our public perplexity enters. None of us seem to have an answer to the slaughters that we have experienced but all of us agree that we have to do something. The quandary is what? Should we ban and confiscate assault weapons? If so, what do we do about the ones that are already out there? Given the complexity of our second amendment, confiscation won’t go over well. Thus our solution so far has come down to thoughts and prayers for the victims of crazed gun owners. Yes, I do agree that the folks who have committed heinous acts are mentally ill. But how do we define mental illness? Would that be all the folks on anti-depressants or have a record of substance abuse? It seems to me that we need to limit this definition to folks who are a danger to themselves or others, but even that has perplexities. Given that the slaughters are likely to continue, at some point we the people are going to have to decide what to do or keep hoping that somehow this issue will just go away. At this point it looks like we just want it to go away.

Environment: Never mind that over 90% of the world’s scientists agree that we have not only pooped in our nest but more importantly our waste has infected our environment, the minority in this quandary is doing all it can to convince us that climate change is a hoax. This is especially true out here in the midst of coal and oil country. So the best I can do is say that so far global warming has been good to us; it’s too bad about the legacy we’re leaving the kids.

Health care: We are one of the few countries left where our illness leads to bankruptcy. One side has the opinion that we have the best care in the world and Obamacare has destroyed it. The other side thinks that too many people can’t afford the care they need and Obamacare may need some corrections but it works better than what we had. This issue becomes real because when it's you or someone you love, you will give all you have to be cured. It seems to me that Medicare for All is part of the answer and someday we might join the rest of the world in making sure that all of us can get the health and illness care we need. By the way, the World Health Organization ranks the United States 37th out of 100 countries. Our outcomes are worse, wait times fifth out of 11 (Canada’s 11), and our costs far outpace every other country in the world. We can do better and we better do something because we already spend $.20 out of every dollar spent in America on health care. Thus the quandary is once again what?

I could go on but hopefully you get the drift here. Those who think that someone else should solve these perplexities play a major part in exacerbating the problem rather than solving them. There’s nothing easy about tackling conundrums and quandaries, but if we don’t at least understand the perplexities we will once again be left with simple solutions that won’t come close to solving our problems. Here’s to hoping you have the strength to hang in there long enough to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

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Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.

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