Avoiding TragedyEditor: Someone said: ''My country, right...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 15, 1991

Avoiding Tragedy

Editor: Someone said: ''My country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right.''

Please tell all our congresspeople who spoke so eloquently to give sanctions time to work to take heart. There are many of us who agreed with them and with their courage in speaking out to avoid the tragedy of the gulf conflict.

In my opinion the one really good thing that evolved from the conflict is that we are finally trying to work problems out diplomatically with the United Nations and all its members.

As a mother and grandmother, I hope and pray that my children will never have to die in war.

Agnes McAvinue.

Baltimore.

Legal Choices

Editor: I wish to comment on George N. Sfeir's March 4 Opinion * Commentary column on Islamic law and international law.

In the entire civilized world, Eastern as well as Western, there are only two basic systems of jurisprudence -- Roman and English, the latter being more or less derivative. (However, only three American jurisdictions follow the Roman civil law.) Restated after a thousand years of evolution as the Corpus Juris Civilis, it derives from the great jus gentium, often confused with "international law." Accurately translated, it means "the law of all peoples."

It is private law (jus privatum) evolved, like the English common law, through case-by-case analysis of what ordinary people have led each other reasonably to expect of each other. Applied by analogy to political entities, it becomes public law (jus publicum). Thus jurisprudence -- wisdom about rights -- is a science both natural and social, logically a branch of psychology, the psychology of obligation.

Islamic law is essentially Roman civil law, the Arabs, before miscegenation with their black slaves, having preserved Hellenistic culture throughout the European dark ages. However, just as ignorant Americans are led to imagine that our English law somehow derives from the Constitution, or as ignorant Romans were led to imagine that their law somehow derived from the Twelve Tables, ignorant Arabs are led to imagine that the law somehow derives from the Koran.

In other words, ignorant people everywhere are led to suppose that the law (jus) originates in legislation (lex, leges) rather than from a process too complex for the layman's mind.

In jurisprudential principle, there is one universal system of law. Over many centuries, the great Roman jural scholars and philosophers proved the point magnificently. The law, Ulpian declared, is "the law of nature."

In principle "international law" is the law of nature as applied to nations by analogy to private organizations.

Willis Case Rowe.

Catonsville.

Save the Magazine

Editor: An established state institution could very well fall victim to the economic ax if Maryland Magazine, the state's official publication, is cut by the legislature.

In its 23 years, the magazine has been a viable educational and promotional tool for the state. It has been used by Peace Corps volunteers in African classrooms and by teachers around the state hungry for historical material on Maryland.

Metropolitan area newspapers and TV shows have used it as a resource for story ideas. Transplanted Marylanders now living in nearly every state have kept in touch with ''home' through the magazine. And, thousands of Marylanders have become loyal subscribers who have explored and learned about the state based on articles in the magazine.

Often, in times of severe budget cutting, publications are viewed as ''fluff'' and therefore expendable. Maryland Magazine is not fluff. It goes about its business of promoting the good things about Maryland -- its lifestyle, traditions, businesses, recreational facilities, natural resources and people -- with style and dignity. In fact, during the past two decades, the magazine has earned dozens of national awards for graphics and editorial content. Moreover, it has been able to tell the Maryland story in a first-class manner on a modest budget with a small but dedicated staff.

Maryland and Marylanders deserve to keep their fine publication, and Maryland Magazine and its staff deserve a better fate than the legislative ax.

Bonnie Joe Ayers.

Silver Spring.

The writer is a former editor of Maryland Magazine.

Hospital Closing: Patients' Loss

Editor: The imminent closing of Homewood Hospital Center will have a painful impact upon the patients who use the Partial Hospitalization Program in the Department of Psychiatry and Addictions. They are people who struggle daily and heroically with major mental illness. By attending the program during the day for therapy that is more intensive than the usual outpatient care, these folks have learned to manage their illnesses.

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