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  • Writer's pictureDavid Bernhart

Laurie and I have been coloring. Not coloring the truth, but actually coloring in coloring books as we did when we were children. And we aren't alone. Coloring for adults is officially a thing, a trend that has spread nationwide, complete with numerous health benefits. Experts say coloring can improve motor skills, enhance sleep and lessen anxiety. I'm no more artistic at coloring than I was in kindergarten, but I'll certainly attest to its stress-reducing properties.

As I color, and struggle sometimes to stay inside the lines, I think about two cherished American traditions: protesting and voting. Protesting is coloring outside the lines. It's an expression of dissatisfaction with the status quo, occasionally leading to disregard for societal boundaries. Voting is coloring inside the lines, working within the system.

Much justified outcry followed the August police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., including the players of the National Basketball Association sitting out several days' worth of playoff games in protest. In the same moment, however, it was widely reported that only about 20% of eligible NBA players were registered to vote. I vividly remember January 21, 2017, the day of the worldwide Women's March. Due to the hundreds of thousands who wanted to attend the Los Angeles event as much as we did, Laurie and I couldn't get any closer to downtown L.A. than the North Hollywood Metro Station. While seeing such an eruption of civic engagement was still heartening, I looked at the crush of people around me trying to make it down to the subway platform and couldn't help wondering how many of them hadn't gotten around to voting in the election two months before.

I'll admit that when coloring, I derive more stress reduction from loosening up and disregarding a few boundaries. But the time always comes to buckle down and work within the system.

Both protesting and voting have their time. It's now time to color inside the lines.

  • Writer's pictureDavid Bernhart

On a recent drive through Van Nuys, I came up alongside a branch of the Los Angeles Police Federal Credit Union. From the street, I could see that the ATM next to the entrance is branded as "QuickDraw."

I get the joke and I'm sure it was considered a clever play on words at the time it was created. But amid the civil unrest of the past four months, the LAPD and the Police Protective League have repeatedly stated a desire to improve the image of police in the community.

As a small step toward that goal, wouldn't this be an appropriate moment for the credit union to change the branding of its ATMs to something that doesn't reinforce the image of police officers as quick on the draw?

  • Writer's pictureDavid Bernhart

Amid the turmoil resulting from the coronavirus and COVID-19, I commend to you the first segment of last Friday's Clark Howard podcast. Clark hosts a nationally syndicated personal finance radio show, works as a consumer reporter for television and is one of the most reasonable people I know in media:

In less than 15 minutes, Clark (a) describes how Taiwan learned a decade ago from our Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the right way to manage a viral outbreak and has brought that knowledge to bear with great success against COVID-19, while our CDC failed to follow its own teaching when the current virus came on the horizon, (b) tells the story of Vò, a town in the north of Italy that stopped COVID-19 in its tracks without bringing daily life for all residents to a halt and (c) explains why stay-at-home orders and lockdowns of large swaths of the citizenry will be ineffective at minimizing either the number of Americans who die in the pandemic or the economic damage we all face.

Clark acknowledges that, of course, the United States is not a small island nation like Taiwan or one town in Italy. But over the past couple of weeks, my gut was already signaling me that our political leaders, though well-meaning, were taking us in the wrong direction on this matter. As we speak, I've become even more convinced that de-emphasizing universal testing for coronavirus in this country at the beginning of the outbreak was a mistake. I also believe that continuing not to make testing the top priority and instead essentially quarantining the entire population is the opposite of what needs to be done.

All this said, Clark Howard closes the segment on a fairly optimistic note, speculating that the fight against COVID-19 may be years-long, but we will get our act together. I'm taking that to heart. I already look forward to reuniting with friends and family members whose companionship has been interrupted. I'm even eager to see people I don't really like.

Sort of.

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