Unanswered Questions in a City, State, and Nation Dying for Answers

ALPERN AT LARGE--Some of us go on and on with the questions, while others claim to have all the answers. To most of us who want answers to our questions, but don't see the answers coming any time soon (or who see conflicting answers that drive us crazy), welcome to the Human Condition.

Some of us find God, some of us find yoga, some of us find Netflix, and some of us find medications to get through the Crazy. 

But we do live in Crazy-town, and there does seem to be a "race to the bottom" to prove that the "other side" is crazy while showing erratic behavior themselves. 

Perhaps the biggest, and most obvious part of the Crazy is the determination to have the answers (as in "don't tell me there are no answers") to questions that really defy our ability to have ANY answers.

1) The nation was unified about the horrible, virtual lynching of George Floyd, and is equally horrified that nationwide police reforms haven't yet been exacted as of 2020...yet even those who screamed "defund the police" are backing off that statement. 

So, who is worse...those who don't want to defund the police, or those who do...and is there any consensus about what "defunding" even means?

So, who is worse...those who allow rogue cops, or those who hate all cops altogether?

Similarly, now that Seattle's own CHOP, CHAZ, or whatever-you-want-to-call that police-free zone is suffering from an inability to have police or firefighters respond to 911 calls, another question comes up:

Who is crazier, the mayor of Seattle and the governor of Washington who allows the police-free zone in Seattle, or the president of the United States who is willing to call in federal/military troops to bring about order?

2) As a medical professional, I get the latest in reports about the Coronavirus, and they are maddingly contradictory.

Is the virus mutating to a more virulent strain, or to a less virulent strain?

Are cases going up because of less social distancing, or because increased testing shows that the virus is more prevalent--and less dangerous, overall--than previously thought?

Is Plaquenil that helpful, or completely worthless? Some very bad studies, and with very bad data, have been pulled from The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine--yet what of better studies that ALSO shows no benefit to Plaquenil? And what of the many observed and small studies that show some benefit to patients who use Plaquenil...might some benefit, but others not?

Is there a "selection bias" in that the patients who benefit report it to their doctors, but those who don't never do because they either go to the hospital and/or die? Are there too much politics around Plaquenil, remdesivir, and other medications, instead of cold, hard data?

As California opens up and Coronavirus cases go up, the ICU admissions and positive test rates are stable, overall--will Governor Newsom's proposed statewide order to require the use of masks timely, or is there a need for masks in some locations sufficient but in others not?

And the BIG question: now that many health care professionals decided it was OK to assemble in protests surrounding the George Floyd killing, has their own collective credibility been irreparably shattered with respect to other assembling? 

3) The Supreme Court has just ruled against the Trump Administration's handling of the DACA policies of the Obama Administration, although Chief Justice Roberts probably isn't quite on the same page as the four liberal Supreme Court justices he sided with in regards to this decision.

Questions abound, and with few answers!

  1. a) Where does this leave black, white, Latino, and Asian-Americans concerned about governmental resources that are being taken away from those born here legally?
  2. b) Where does this leave the parents of those brought here as minors?
  3. c) Are Dreamers now citizens of the United States? What rights DO they have? What rights do they NOT have?
  4. d) Do American-born children brought to other nations have rights to remain in those nations, and do they have the right to benefits commensurate to those offered DACA recipients in the United States? 

Again, way more questions than answers. Perhaps the answer is that there IS no answer, which some of us REFUSE to accept. And maybe the answer is to just turn off the news and stop asking the questions...because the news and the questions raised will be too stressful to contemplate for very long.

But perhaps this does explain why so many of us don't vote. It's just too painful to confront these unanswerable questions.

Unfortunately, the questions aren't going away, and the only thing worse than confronting these questions is to ignore them for much longer. 



(CityWatch Columnist, Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He was (termed out) also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Outreach Committee, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee and Vice-Chair of its Planning Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at Ken.Alpern@MarVista.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)