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Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014
Letter of the Day

Common sense and wisdom from a father

Published:

I read the article regarding the 8-year-old girl kidnapped while playing on a swing just outside her apartment building in Tulsa, Okla., last Sunday. I am sure all normal adults can’t even bear to allow themselves to empathize completely with the anguish that the parents, grandparents, siblings and friends experienced, not to mention the terror the child must have suffered before being found safe.

I wish to propose an intervention that just makes sense and will most certainly lead to a dramatic increase in the safe recovery of such children, as well as solving many other crimes.

Auto license plates are ostensibly a means of identification. But, tragically, this purpose has been abandoned in favor of converting license plates into a revenue source. We have so many specialized plates, that to identify the numbers from more than a car length is often impossible — and even recognizing a Florida plate is often difficult at any distance.

My father did not finish high school. He was deeply embarrassed to engage in discourse with educated people, feeling himself inferior. But he failed to grasp the difference between education and intelligence. He was, in fact, very intelligent, and as such many issues and situations confounding others were crystal clear in his eyes. And he couldn’t understand why others could not see the answer that he so clearly grasped.

When watching the news, he would often muse, “I don’t understand what is wrong with people — the answer is just common sense.”

So at age 5 — I remember the situation clearly — in response to one query, I asked him, “Dad, what is common sense?” He paused for just a moment, then explained, “Well, if it is high, you can fall. If it is hot, it can burn you. If it is sharp, you can get cut. If it is electric, it can shock you. If it is wet, it is probably slippery. And if it is glass, it can break. ... And there are a lot more, but that is enough for now.”

He summarized: “God gave you a head on your shoulders, and he expects you to use it. He expects you to be mindful of these and a lot of other simple things, so don’t hurt yourself, or your buddy. And if you do forget, as we all do once in a while, and you or someone else gets hurt, that’s what is called a stupid mistake.”

His final conclusion, spoken as he shook his head dramatically, indicating a negative answer, was, “And no one wants to make a stupid mistake.”

I sat and shook my head in like fashion as I internalized his indisputable wisdom.

So I implore Gov. Rick Scott, Florida state legislators and my fellow Floridians to demand that we use some common sense and make our license plates clearly identifiable, perhaps with the black characters on white background that the Europeans have used for decades.

I doubt any amount of state revenue can even begin to equal the cost of our stupid mistake. If anyone doubts, just ask the parent of a lost child. I’m sure they can set you straight. It is only common sense.

Dan R. Richards, MD

Tampa

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