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While human-made, unnatural disasters are worse than the nature-caused kind blasting the Gulf Coast, both bring people together in a social climate when post-Boomer-agers, especially, are "normally" only involved in their own little spheres. Thanks to Judith Cutler, around 50 neighborhood people gathered quietly around the 9/11 memorial tree outside 530 E. 84th St. for a ceremony of remembrance. I smiled and said hello to early arrivals, which seemed to surprise some. Candles were lit to honor the innocents whose lives were so abominably, unthinkably taken, and those whose lives are so inexpressibly wounded, said Judith, introducing a mother who had lost her son. After singing what should be our national anthem, "America the Beautiful," everyone went on their own (often too separate) ways. But such life and health essentials aren't political or even private pursuits, albeit so many intractable social and individual woes derive from these unnatural divides, especially between generations-and in families. Incidentally, Governor Sarah Palin several times stressed that without her extended family support network, she could not have balanced family and work. This is only an endorsement of this invaluable, too-often-missing kind of natural support system. These and neighbor/friend vital connections concern me more than the candidates' stated issues-except for government not fulfilling its first duty to protect public safety. While a cookie crumb lodged in my throat made me suddenly leave State Sen. Liz Krueger's town hall meeting, I didn't go back, feeling that advancing pedestrian safety wasn't an issue as earlier publicized. It was not about the two-wheeled anarchy outside the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House meeting place, and all over the city-or that my nearly being struck by a red-light-running bike that night was a usual, not an exceptional, hazard. And existing laws and even new ones won't stop the anarchy unless the mayor says, "Enough, already!" Unlikely, when he's so gung-ho about cycling in this high-density city. Even the tragic death last week of an 8-year-old boy struck by a turning truck when riding a bike a few feet behind his father may not prompt cyclist safeguards urged in my letter to the Daily News: "Cyclists must make themselves as visible as possible, especially, but not only the small riders. Bikes must have a flag atop a pole attached to the rear fender. They must also make a nice little sound to protect not only riders but those sharing these finite spaces!" And if only the intentional murder of another beloved son, 19-year-old Pace University student, Kevin Pravia, would ignite a real firestorm to never let friends, or anyone intoxicated, go home alone-to combat drunkenness period! And it would solidly back the Daily News editorial "Stop the Madness" that advocates making government keep close tabs on mentally ill persons with violent records. Stop protecting the violent ones to blame in Pravia's murder and others, as in the case of last year's highly publicized slaying of psychologist Kathryn Faughey. And last week, a mentally ill homeless man caused the death of a good Samaritan who tried to stop his random attack on a woman neighbor. How long, dear Lord, how long? The most needed change is for government to fulfill its first duty to protect public safety. But where's the movement to lower the speed limit to save lives (not to mention fuel), or to give all-out support for Amtrak and all mass-transit service expansion? Oh, but it would ban the physically, emotionally and visually healthy incandescent light! Senator Obama "would do that at once!" (Surely I'm not the only one appalled by the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House auditorium's new "cool-white" yet fluorescent ceiling lights, aided and abetted by stark white unadorned walls. B-r-r-r-r-r and G-r-r-r-r-r!) So "out'" and/or oust those "naked emperors" in every walk of life: those who either can't or won't see the changes we need and those that we don't! [](

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