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April 14: Malala Yousafzai, all that is good. Plus other letters to the editor

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'All that is good'

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Re Malala Yousafzai Calls On Canada To Stand With Her (April 13): Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai is undoubtedly a living legend, a young woman who embodies all that is good about humanity. It is an honour to have her as Canada's newest citizen.

Her photo should be framed and displayed in every school of our great country, with the message she delivered to our children in Canada's Parliament: "When I was little, I used to wait to be an adult to lead, but I have learned that even a child's voice can be heard across the world."

Giselle Portenier, West Vancouver


Start on Sunday …

Michael St. B. Harrison had me with his opening sentence: "At my age, we refer to funerals as our new cocktail parties" (When A City Of Churches Goes Silent – Facts & Arguments, April 10).

I was struck by his gentle ability to put into words exactly my thoughts about the decline of community. Ours is a fast-paced world. Relationships are digital rather than skin-to-skin.

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Violence seems to be everywhere and one asks "Why?"

After a recent funeral, I noticed many people lingered on the lawns and spilled out onto the road. They were in no hurry to dash off to the reception. Their gathering in the church had brought them together in person.

The hymns were familiar to some, but the younger demographic didn't seem to know the words. Did we appear alien as we stood, knelt and listened to the comforting words of the pastor? Our departed friend would have been the first to admit that any goodness in her actions sprang from her deeply rooted faith-life.

Bravo for Mr. Harrison's courage in confronting this dearth in our way of life today. His closing sentences – "So why are we suspicious of pious worshippers from different faiths? Maybe we should join the parade and troop our colours before we forget the hymns and prayers we learned from our parents. I think I will start on Sunday" – may be the antidote to get back to a reality of people-to-people community.

Elizabeth A. Brown Davidson, Wellington, Ont.


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Trump, blurred

Two sentences in your editorial, Donald Trump Comes Into Focus (April 11), actually blur the focus on the American President.

First: "Instead, he saw an image, on Twitter or a cable news show, and reacted. 'Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror,' Mr. Trump said in his statement after the missiles were fired."

Mr. Trump is too smart to react without thinking. He chose his words carefully, bringing God into it. The images provided the catalyst to launch "a spectacular piece of performance art" – to quote Margaret Wente from her article on the opposite page (Trump Doctrine: Do What Feels Good Now). A huge stunt, which unfortunately impressed most people.

Second: "In reacting … the President acted genuinely surprised by what is going on in Syria." "Trump" and"genuine" are two words that are incompatible in one sentence. Period.

Let's not kid ourselves, Donald Trump will never allow himself to come into focus.

Daniel Hector, Toronto


Having just read your editorial on Donald Trump's Syrian missile attack, I find myself perplexed at your continued fixation with negative spin on the U.S. President. It has reached a point where, whatever the topic, I can guess your storyline before I read it. Five months after the election, you have all just got to get over it.

He won.

Clive Coombs, Oakville, Ont.


To die well

What is sorely needed is not more doctors prepared to terminate their patients' lives, but universal education about the true nature of death and dying and readily available, high-level supportive care (unfortunately termed "palliative" care) during the process (Health-Care Providers Decry Ontario's Assisted-Death Process – April 3).

In most cases, dying does not have to be a painful, undignified process that makes one a burden to loved ones and fearful of the end. On the contrary, with some preparation and support from the medical team, friends and family, it can be a time of team-building, celebration, and life enhancement for all involved.

There is evidence that good palliative care can prolong life, as well as improve its quality. Evidence also supports the notion that palliative care and some advance-care planning can help spare the costs and trauma of invasive medical procedures at the end of life.

What is needed is the social discourse, and the medical and political will to direct the conversation and the funds to universally available palliative care.

We all deserve to die well.

Julie McIntyre, MD, Toronto


Advanced directives: such a simple solution to what can otherwise be a very complicated and agonizing situation (Quebec Pushes The Boundaries On Assisted Dying Again – April 3).

With longevity increasing, being stricken with some type of dementia becomes a likely outcome for many of us. An advanced directive puts its writer in the driver's seat, and can be worded to reflect an individual's preferences, obviating the need for loved ones to assume that onerous responsibility.

I am a retired physician, and have also lived through the horrors of both parents and a husband dying with dementia. I am in the process of writing my own directive, and only hope that our government will, in its wisdom, amend the law, so that my wishes, and doubtless those of countless others, may be respected.

Sheelagh Norman, MD, Toronto


Unseated …

Bullying behaviour has a history with airlines that long predates the United debacle (Fear Of Airlines – letters, April 13).

In 1965, after several months in Europe, I was comfortably settled in an aisle seat on a TWA flight, awaiting takeoff from Madrid, I believe, to Boston, where I planned to visit friends. I was also booked for Montreal and Toronto.

With no warning, an attendant approached and asked me to accompany her off the plane. Stunned, I asked what was going on. She gave no information. I refused to move. She called on other personnel. All insisted I must get off the plane. I kept asking why and not getting up. Finally, one said someone important needed to get to Boston. That did it. Wasn't I important, I asked in a loud voice. I, too, "needed" to get to Boston to meet my friends.

Seeing that I wouldn't follow their orders, they left, returning a few moments later.

They approached an older woman, a much smaller person dressed in black, seated several seats behind me on the other side. After a few moments, she got up and left with them, clearly upset about what was transpiring.

On the tarmac, I could see her gesturing with her arms. In due course, some people from the terminal rushed out to meet her.

A few moments later, two passengers boarded the plane.

I wrote to TWA – but I never got a reply.

Mary Valentich, Calgary

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