My wife and I independently had the same reaction to your “We’re number one, we’re number one!” column July 31. We wondered if you have actually lived anywhere else? We have lived in Mobile for 13 years and before that, in Boston for 28 years (also Philadelphia, Denver, Chicago and San Francisco).
Our daughter went to a public school in Massachusetts that was easily as diverse as the public schools here and diversity was far better tolerated, both in race and religion. However, a major difference is that Massachusetts and New England, in general, value education highly (and tax heavily for it – a price we were happy to pay).
We, as a family, also spent time camping by Maine lakes and traveling together. New England is easily as beautiful as Alabama; witness the splendor of the trees turning in the fall or the multiple pristine lakes in upstate New York, not to mention the Cape Cod seashore and Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.
We were not exposed to the same degree of poverty that you describe, although it certainly exists in New England. Nonetheless, healthcare is nearly universal in Massachusetts, and it shows in the health of its citizens, whereas if you live in poverty in Alabama, access to healthcare and vital medications are not only dismal (another near last achievement), but lack of access is in some cases lethal.
If you have found much religious diversity here, outside of variants of Christianity, or tolerance for different beliefs and value systems, it has certainly eluded us.
In short, I would match my family’s experiences with those you describe, albeit they differ in some ways, but New England upholds and supports both its values and the wellbeing of its citizens in vital areas where Alabama’s lack is shameful.
I love your paper and normally enjoy your column; this column was no exception, but I think we need to spend more time trying to emerge from being nearly the worst in everything except football and I hope your future columns will focus on these issues.
Richard and Lana Teplick