Mistakes, everyone makes them

The Featured Five: Learning from Our Mistakes

Mistakes, of course, are part of life. Whether we admit them or not, we all make them, to varying degrees and consequences. I’ve made my share and in the process learned we often get away with, or are readily forgiven for, making a mistake once. Repeating the mistake, however, can kill you—literally.

I thought about my past blunders while reading Kristine Petterson’s “Out of My Mindfulness: Examining the Power of Mistakes,” published by Idaho’s Inland 360. In the feature, Petterson, a yoga teacher, contrasts the terms “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset” and offers suggestions on how kids and adults can overcome some of life’s most common challenges. Among the advice offered: Embrace—even celebrate—your mistakes and then learn from them and evolve. A fitting theme, it seems, for this week’s Featured Five.

According to CITY News, plenty of mistakes have been made at Rochester, New York’s Highland Hospital. Staff writer Gino Fanelli’s “Transgender Men Tell of Discrimination at Highland” documents a couple of cases in which transgender men felt “degraded” during their time at the hospital. These experiences, Fanelli writes, illustrate “how hospitals across the country struggle to provide care to transgender and gender nonconforming patients with sensitivity, despite efforts at improving.” He cites a comprehensive survey of medical schools in the United States and Canada that shows minimal training was devoted to LGBTQ healthcare. Some medical schools reported offering no LGBTQ training, he adds.

Get Lit.

As Petterson notes in her piece, it’s crucial we learn from our mistakes. For decades we’ve tainted the soil, poisoned waterways and polluted the air and, despite the evidence and dire warnings, we’ve have not significantly altered our behavior. Now we’re suffering the consequences. The Sacramento News & Review’sThe Battle for Highway 50 Spreads to the Alpine Peaks and Meadows along Highway 88” documents the effort to contain one of the many wildfires plaguing the nation. “There is a hot war going on in the Sierras,” begins writer Ken Magri, who goes onto explain that 2,800 firefighters are battling the Caldor Fire, which has already burned more than 150,000 acres. While Magri does not connect the wildfires to climate change, many other writers, including our own contributors Joshua Ellis and Thor Benson, have.

But when we learn from our mistakes and those of others, it is indeed a beautiful thing. In Triad CityBeat’s informal survey “Formerly COVID Vaccine-hesitant People Share Why They Decided to Get the Shot,” managing editor Sayaka Matsuoka speaks with six North Carolinians about their hesitancy to get the vaccine and why they changed their minds. “I feel like I should have done it earlier,” Shanata McMillian-Shepard, a 41-year-old mother of two, says of her conversion from skeptic to vaccinated. “I feel good. It’s a selfish act really because you’re doing it for you, but also for the community too, to keep everyone safe.” Matsuoka also interviewed Gonzalo Leal Alegría, 47, who got vaccinated only after his sister died from complications related to COVID. “I keep seeing people who are sick around us,” Alegría says. “I just learned about a family from a friend who all got sick with COVID and I asked them if they were vaccinated and they hadn’t been. So this makes me feel like we are doing what we need to do to be safe.”

It’s hard, for me at least, to contemplate mistakes and not think of Texas, which recently enacted an abortion ban. In her news commentary “What Texas’ Abortion Ban Could Mean for Tennessee,” Memphis Flyer senior news reporter Maya Smith reports the ban is part of a national agenda to end abortion. One of Smith’s key sources is Ashley Coffield, head of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi. “People in Tennessee have got to watch what’s happening in Texas really closely because Gov. [Bill] Lee and the General Assembly could very easily replicate S.B. 8 here,” says Coffield. Coffield goes on to tell Smith the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a case on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, which could overturn Roe v. Wade. “Unfortunately, we’re starting to think about what it will take to help our patients find care outside of Tennessee if the worst happens,” Coffield says. “Without Roe, there is no protection for abortions in Tennessee. No one should have to prepare for losing access to essential healthcare or have the added burden of figuring out how to find an out-of-state healthcare provider because of politicians.” 

Stay vigilant, my friends! Newspapers can point out our mistakes and try to predict the consequences of them. But it’s up to us to correct them and learn from them.

Matthew O’Brien is a writer, editor and teacher who lived in Las Vegas for 20 years and is currently based in San Salvador, El Salvador. His latest book, Dark Days, Bright Nights: Surviving the Las Vegas Storm Drains, documents those who lived in Vegas’ underground flood channels. His full bio is here.

Matthew O’Brien is a writer, editor and teacher who lived in Las Vegas for 20 years and is currently based in San Salvador, El Salvador. His latest book, Dark Days, Bright Nights: Surviving the Las Vegas Storm Drains, documents those who lived in Vegas’ underground flood channels. His full bio is here.

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