Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
Editor: In the midst of America's confusion about race, it's important to remember the example set for us by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday we celebrate on January 21.
The U.S. has been rocked recently by racial tension on campus, controversies over school curriculums and clashes over scarce housing and neighborhood stores. As the economy contracts, the strains on our social fabric worsen.
We need to do better than to simply give formal honor to Dr. King. We need more than ever to put his ideals into practice.
Dr. King understood that every racial and ethnic group needs a healthy sense of identity. He also knew that American society can function fairly only if these group heritages become part of a pluralistic society in which there is justice for all.
How can we best honor Dr. King? By supporting quality education and housing for all Americans. By insisting that our judicial system promotes fairness, for example by declaring that African-Americans cannot be dismissed from juries for no substantial reason and that American companies abroad must observe civil rights standards. Passing legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1990 would turn the promise of a discrimination-free workplace into reality. We must stand up, individually and communally, against any manifestation of bigotry or hatred.
We need to activate, not merely commemorate, the principles that Martin Luther King taught us all.
Stephen L. Hecht.
Baltimore. Editor: I was fascinated by the article by Peter Jensen regarding ''Senior Services'' and the issues it raised with respect to licensing requirements by the Maryland Home Improvement Commission.
Concepts similar to the one devised by Senior Services have been around in Maryland for a long time. My own company has been at it for 32 years and is responsible for approximately 10,000 home service jobs a year in the northern Baltimore metropolitan area. However, we have been licensed by the Maryland Home Improvement Commission since its inception, the home repair people we refer are licensed, and the services we provide cover a much broader spectrum than simple home repairs.
Mr. Jensen's article has very adeptly pointed out the tremendous void that exists, in prosperous times especially, of legitimate sources for small home repairs. In fact, I would defy anyone to name a company consisting of more than a couple people that has been able to profit and endure in this arena.
In the late 1980s, when our company was having problems finding enough independent small repair sources to fill our customers' needs, we opened our own ''in-house handyman'' division. It was busy, well managed and charged embarrassingly high rates, yet the division lost money. The reason was the high overhead with which a company must contend in order to fulfill the requirements and responsibilities stipulated by licensing.
My very strong opinion is that in Maryland, the legal and legitimate business of providing small home repairs can be profitable only when engaged in by properly licensed one- and two-person enterprises. That there have never been enough of them should not be the problem of the Maryland Home Improvement Commission. Instead, the commission has provided a tremendous opportunity for legitimate self-employment of which too few handy people have taken advantage.
Jacob W. Slagle.
Editor: Why does man today think that he is the center of the universe? From the Egyptians and Mayans to the Navahos, ancient cultures were in awe at the heavens and worshiped the sun.
Now that we have ignored ''father'' sun and abused ''mother'' earth, the American Indian is watching what our greed and power will make us do next.
How much oil, gas and coal do we need to power our country and others? Is there not enough in the New World and Siberia to make up for the Kuwait supply? When are we going to question our imperial nation's politics on just what we know from the media?
We are entertained every newsday by images instead of the hard facts on what is happening. We could understand if the truth was told to the world concerning the fate of all energies, but nothing has been said about alternative fuels.
The sun is the logical choice to help us make up for our coming fuel needs. It is clean, proven to work efficiently and inexpensive.
Despite the American Indian telling us for years to stop our destruction of the earth, we still go on waiting for the next generation to spring up the New World Order.
Editor: The sister of hostage Terry Anderson accuses the State Department of doing too little to secure freedom for the U.S. prisoners. Now that our president has accepted Syria's Hafez Assad as a friend and ally, George Bush should pressure him to release the American hostages who are being held in Syrian-controlled Lebanon.
May our leaders be aware that in this serious situation, principle outweighs expediency.