Think hard to find a cure for city's illsAn acquaintance...

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October 15, 1992

Think hard to find a cure for city's ills

An acquaintance of mine, after a year of living in Israel, mentioned her culture shock at returning to the United States. She felt safer in Israel, surrounded by hostile countries, than she feels here in Baltimore . . .

We daily hear of death and maiming by gunshot. Even police and innocent children are not immune from the killing.

Is uncontrolled anger the source of the violence? Are drug use and greed the culprits? Is the problem our competitive society and limited resources? Is it hatred and prejudice?

Are more jails the answer? Gun control, family values, more police, the right to bear arms, a new administration, exiting the city? Certainly I do not know a global solution to the left or to the right.

Each person can only be responsible for his own behavior, as a young adult and adult.

It is my theory that thinking -- more specifically, reflective thought -- has been replaced by concern with doing things; watching TV, maintaining the rat race for survival, acting on the need to have a consumer mentality, going through one's life unaware, as if human consciousness is nothing but a sophisticated computer-like ability for achievement, pleasure fulfillment and asserting power over others and the environment.

The most far-reaching and comforting ideals and actions have all resulted from a single thought. Perhaps if each of us engaged in more reflective thought, we would not only probably feel a bit safer but could communicate our ideas and thoughts to others until the framework of society could be questioned and transformed into more of the utopia each of us would like.

In chaos there is an appreciation of calm. In calm there is the opportunity for self-renewal. I wish the reader the opportunity for reflective thought, the only hope for changing our violent city.

Ken Girard

Baltimore

Tobacco taxes

Research has shown that increased tobacco prices are the single most effective tool in reducing tobacco use, particularly among youth. Your editorial of Sept. 21, "Healthy tobacco taxes," demonstrates the dramatic gains possible in reducing smoking prevalence and per capita consumption of cigarettes by citing the remarkable achievements of Norway and Canada.

The fact that cigarettes remain so relatively affordable in the United States underscores the sad reality that the most powerful public policy tool available to fight our largest cause of preventable death remains woefully under-utilized.

The frightful consequences of such an indifferent public health policy are shocking -- an estimated 434,000 deaths annually caused by smoking; 1 million new smokers each year, drawn primarily from underage youth; and direct and indirect costs in the billions of dollars reflected in higher utilization of health care services, increased job absenteeism and lower productivity.

Other countries around the world have joined with Norway and Canada in increasing their cigarette taxes as a means of protecting the public health. In so doing, all of these countries have signaled a commitment to shift to an economy which is less reliant upon tobacco.

The time is long overdo for the collective political leadership throughout our country to take strong, unambiguous and consistent action to establish a tobacco-taxing structure which will begin to reverse the unnecessary and costly morbidity and mortality attributable to the ravages of smoking, and to accept as a direct consequence of such action the necessary reordering of this nation's economic priorities.

`Christian H. Poindexter

Baltimore

The writer is the chairman of the Maryland State Council oCancer Control.

Indecisive

Ross Perot has a golden opportunity to become a national hero. As a private citizen he should explain -- in detail -- just how our complex problems ought to be solved.

Mr. Perot is a financial wizard. However, in the political arena, he acts like a headless torso in search of a central nervous system.

At the present time, we do not know whether the little man with the big ego is sincerely interested in saving our nation from self-destruction . . .

Joseph Lerner

Baltimore

Evil of racism

As I watched the docudrama "Heat Wave (Watts Insurrection)," depicting my people's anger at racism, I cried tears of hurt and anger.

I suddenly felt my feelings shift to the horrendous force of racism that is presently destroying women, men, children and babies. This nightmare is so horrible that many of my people don't want to talk about it or confront it.

The dynamic of racism is real and powerful in a sick way. It is an institution in our society and is quietly accepted and condoned as if it were a given.

There are many of us who are not marching in lock-step, who talk about this awful phenomenon to all who will listen.

And when we hook up, we have our own revolution in which we intellectually bury racism.

The evil of racism will continue spreading its rotten stench across the width and breadth of this country, taking its deadly toll on all.

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