Being raised and educated in Fargo from elementary school (Roosevelt) through high school (Fargo Central) and graduating from medical school at the University of North Dakota, I’ve always identified myself as a confirmed North Dakotan. The basic principles that I saw present there have remained bedrock from humility, honesty and trust in rational behavior. These have persisted throughout my life. In every leadership role I have had, when a job applicant was a North Dakotan I felt a kinship and I usually saw the same respect for hard work and integrity I grew up surrounded by. I have had great love for the state and what I felt it stood for.
It has been such a huge disappointment to me to see North Dakota leading the nation, not in hockey, not in football, not in educational achievement, but in the highest incidence of COVID-19 infection in America. Not just this week, nor last but for the past months and still climbing. In a state with a small population, this should have easily been controlled. In an educated population it should have been easy to teach the principles of safe behavior. In a state with a history of pride in leadership it should have been an easy challenge for leaders to lead. But it has failed in every facet of public probity to achieve safe communal behavior. It will take some time for me to regain pride in my North Dakotan history.
When individual rights jeopardize public welfare writ large, a civilized society places controls on those rights, as it has done with drunken driving and other individual risky behaviors. Often, all it takes is a general public awareness to accept such controls. Why has this failed so dramatically in North Dakota? It is too late for saving lives already lost. But it is not too late to seriously alter dysfunctional behavior with the goal of saving future lives, future unnecessary medical costs and the stress on the health care systems, and begin to act in a civilized and appropriate socially responsible manner. It is indeed late, but hopefully not too late.
This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.