LETTERS TO THE EDITOR FROM SEPTERMBER 13 - SEPTEMBER 18, 2004
Need better understanding
To the Editor:
Most of us agree that we need new strategies in dealing with the Middle East and Islam. However, Elaine Livingston's letter in The Observer Sept. 4 is not very helpful in achieving this.
We can point to barbaric attitudes and practices in the history of many religions. Some of the Scriptures reflect this harshness and cruelty.
Prophets and seers of that time actually tried to soften this cruelty. For the most part religious communities have evolved and no longer accept these practices, but there is still is a significant difference between us and other parts of the world. We are discovering ways of life and thought that, up to recently, we completely ignored.
The main problem that we are facing is a struggle between fundamentalism and modernism. In some cases, fundamentalism is trying to retain or return to some of these practices, and in doing so meet head-on the forces of modernism.
This struggle also takes place in our country. Some groups are dismayed by the excesses of our civilization, yet they are too far removed from Islamic fundamentalism to see a similarity. However, the fear that modernism will destroy a way of life is real in both cases.
In trying to help others we export our modern lifestyle, which seems natural to us. Unfortunately we tend to be ignorant of others, and lack the ability to deal with them. In the Arabian world there is no real separation between religion and politics. Books like "Prophet of Doom" are not helpful in understanding Islam and its way of looking at the world.
New strategies require a better understanding of Islamic civilization. We must somehow or other produce a change in our as well as their attitude. It will, indeed, take a long time.
Johannes M. Spronk
Win for all involved
To the Editor:
Once in a while something seems too good to be true Â— but isn't.
The work crew from TEC is for real. The local Training and Employment Consortium has a program that is a win for all involved.
Four energetic teens and an adult crew leader toiled for me one day recently, piling branches, hauling logs and splitting wood on my property. They were hard working, responsible and got a summer's worth of work done in one day at no charge to me.
This program is made possible through a partnership with the Oregon Department of Forestry, the National Fire Plan and TEC.
The teens' motivation is to work off community service hours and earn money to pay fines ordered by the Union County juvenile court. TEC's motivation is to show the young adults another way to live, through constructive use of energy, learning how to work and acquiring skills.
TEC has created a winning solution for the community, the teens and for Union County residents wanting to comply with the National Fire Plan.
If you need to have some hard work done, call TEC at 963-7942.
To the Editor:
Much ado has been made about the mounting American death toll in Iraq. It is apparent that the mainstream media is myopic, and the American public is being painted a picture that is way out of proportion. Now don't get me wrong: we should mourn the loss of every soldier killed in action. However, regression is no moral equivalent to or substitute for regret.
The fact being lost in the debate about our Middle East policy, is that our armed forces are comprised of volunteers. Our service members are not products of a draft, are not reluctant conscripts, but are individuals who have made choices with consequences. Most are facing those consequences with valor.
According to an August 11 Corvallis Gazette-Times article, last year 42,643 Americans died in traffic accidents, none of whom did so out of duty. Sure, all drivers take risks when getting behind the wheel, but don't consider driving a form of combat except of course, in Los Angeles, Seattle, etc. Â— you get the point.
And what about the 40 million Americans Â— 4,000 per day Â—who have died since 1973 in America's abortion clinics and maternity wards. Why no media uproar about the daily genocide occurring in our own "ala Saddam Hussein" torture chambers? These innocents did not volunteer for our antiseptic killing fields, they were not killed by mines, RPGs or snipers' bullets, but by friendly fire handed over by their progenitors to pseudo-physicians, medical terrorists in disguise, really, armed with scalpels, suction machines and other instruments of death.
Isn't it ironic that our unsung heroes are dying to preserve our liberty to pursue courses of self-indulgence and destinies of self-destruction? Let us not mourn for our soldiers only; let us also mourn for our own pathetic selves.
Important public issues
To the Editor:
I read Bob Nelson's letter in The Observer of Sept. 10. Mr. Nelson doesn't seem to realize that the Wallowa Union Railroad and the Buffalo Peak Golf Course will continue to be political issues as long as the revenue they generate is less than the cost of their operation.
These were two high-risk ventures that the county commission chose to invest public funds into, and public funds are being used to keep them solvent. In addition, it appears we will have to use public funds to repay millions of dollars of loans acquired to purchase the railroad and the golf course.
The public has the right to question the wisdom of the county commission as we move towards election time.
Don't destroy state constitution
To the Editor:
I'm writing to implore Oregonians not to destroy our Constitution in the upcoming election and to vote "no" on Ballot Measure 36. Regardless of how you feel about marriage, the Constitution is not the place to be casting into concrete an elite class of citizens. It's supposed to be about protecting the rights of all citizens.
I would also point out that freedom only has any meaning if you apply it to things you disagree with: the freedom to be or do only what others approve of is no freedom at all.
It seems that this country has lost all interest in freedom and liberty, but I'd really like to see Oregon take a stab at reversing that trend this November.
Making good things happen
To the Editor:
Too often we hear complaints about public employees. But I want to point out one situation where these fellows performed like superheroes.
Several years ago a group of us launched a fundraising campaign to bring back Cast Iron Mary. This legendary statue provides a look into La Grande's early days and we felt it was important to bring her back to a place of honor.
The statue was placed at Max Square last year but the remaining piece of the project was the drinking fountain. We have waited for the completion of the project, but it has been a long wait. To the rescue Â— Norm Paullus of La Grande Public Works. He is the genius behind most of the Max Square design and the Cast Iron Mary project.
I have to admit to nagging the man to death over the past six months about this drinking fountain. It had been holding a place of honor on Norm's desk, but finally on the day of our Celebrate La Grande IX party at Max Square, who should show up but a troupe of public works employees.
They ran into snag after snag Â— no one ever said anything worthwhile was going to be easy Â— but they persevered and at almost 4:30 p.m. they completed the Cast Iron Mary project, which had been almost three years in the making. I stuck a hand in that cool water spewing from that beautiful gold drinking fount and almost cried.
There is not a single project in our community that is completed by a single individual. It takes dozens of willing participants to make good things happen Â— Jack Rudd and city employees Dan Martens, Chris Hedden, Jed Polfore, Troy Roberts, Pat Pattee, Brian Chamberlain and Paullus, to name a few. Cast Iron Mary is a perfect example.
Di Lyn Larsen-Hill
Bush policies go too far
To the Editor:
I can understand how a conservative might have voted for G.W. Bush in 2000. It was important to get someone into the presidency who claimed to stand for conservative values.
Wallowa County, where I live, is home to a wonderful, grounded conservatism that comes from earning a living off the land. The values associated with this conservatism are part of what makes Wallowa County such a good place to live. Our work ethic, honesty, neighbors pulling together, tolerance, caring for our youth, and love of the land and its resources are all part of these values.
However, the Bush administration has moved farther and farther to the right until its policies bear little resemblance to Wallowa County's conservatism.
In the Bush-Rove way of doing things, the Healthy Forests Act becomes a gutless political statement. It gives Bush the right to say, "look what I've done." However, with no money for implementation, Wallowa County continues to starve in the midst of a forest of plenty.
How does a political party, pledged to less government, demand access to the medical records of women who have had abortions, or work to place into our Constitution an amendment prohibiting two people who love each other from being married, or intrude into the authority of school boards via the No Child Left Behind Act?
The Bush administration has become a parody of what conservatism should be, and reduced conservatism to an opportunistic political tool.
While you may not be able to bring yourself to vote for John Kerry, you don't have to vote for Bush. If Bush has gone too far invading your privacy and intruding government into your life, do not vote for him. Leave your ballot blank. You will still be voting for what you believe in.