What we owe exceeds what is owed to usI must warn that...

the Forum

March 13, 1995

What we owe exceeds what is owed to us

I must warn that this letter will be filled with a dirty, four-letter word. It must be the dirtiest of all four-letter words, because over the past decades as other four-letter words became accepted in all media, this one stayed safely hidden.

But now is the time to utter it for all to hear. That four-letter word is "duty."

This is one subject many do not want to hear. Over the past 50 years, its counterpart, ''rights'' has enjoyed great popularity.

But this should also have increased the usage of ''duty," because one cannot exist with the other. Just as there are positive and negative ions to balance the universe, for every right we enjoy there is a corresponding duty.

As we enter the 21st century, it might be valuable to look back to a time when we were beginning to enter the 20th century and recall what Theodore Roosevelt had to say on this subject:

''If there is any lesson more essential than any other for this country to learn, it is that the enjoyment of rights should be made conditional upon the performance of duty.

For one failure in the history of our country which is due to people not asserting their rights, there are hundreds due to not performing their duties.

"No human being is entitled to any right, any privilege that is not correlated with the obligation to perform duty."

I believe now is the time for all Americans to stop and think, ''Am I enjoying a right? Do I receive a privilege (might we substitute entitlement)? If so, what is my corresponding duty and am I performing it?''

This applies to young people receiving financial aid in colleges, to seniors using Medicare, to corporations receiving tax preferences, to name just a few. I'm sure all of us can examine this question individually.

As President Roosevelt also said: ''Unless the people develop the capacity to think, each one, of what is due from him to his fellow man and not what is due from his fellow man to him, this country, based as it is on popular government, cannot achieve the place that it must and will achieve."

William Wills

Ocean City

Auto theft

$2 million is allocated to combat auto theft. Good!

Someone should inform the administrators of the program that driver carelessness is not the only cause of thefts. Thieves have sophisticated tools and intelligence to bypass security systems.

What is also needed is to press car manufacturers to improve security as well as safety. Insurance companies should join the battle.

McNair Taylor

Baltimore

Save the art

I am very much against the Maryland Institute making an attempt to sell the Lucas art collection.

Baltimore City has so much negative about it, our cultural centers are outstanding and should remain that way. The Lucas collection must remain in the hands of the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Walters Art Gallery.

Betsy Pollock-Kaplan

Baltimore

Glendening

Thanks to Gov. Parris Glendening, it appears that the "good old boy" network of traditional Maryland politics is alive and well.

This does not bode well for the good of the state. However, it does assure the emergence of a viable second party.

His credentials for governor are flawed by a dismal record of incompetence as executive of Prince George's County, where he feathered his own nest and left the county in fiscal ruin.

The plurality of the elections demand that members of the legislature view with suspicious concern the efforts of the executive branch.

Without this oversight, the fiscal integrity of the state and the franchise of the citizens will be threatened.

Edward Straley

Street

Drinking and St. Patrick's Day

Everyone's Irish on St. Patrick's Day . . . or so the saying goes. And to those who raise a glass to Ireland's patron saint on March 17, we ask them to do so responsibly.

Those who volunteer to be a designated driver on St. Patrick's Day should be honored, for they help in doing what even the luck of the Irish cannot: stop drunk driving.

In fact, designated drivers deserve credit for contributing to the 33 percent decline in drunk driving fatalities in the last decade.

This St. Patrick's Day, the Winner Distributing Co., along with several popular St. Patrick's Day gathering places in Baltimore, will be working to keep that trend improving by reminding customers to use a designated driver and drink responsibly.

eorge J. Acton

Baltimore

The writer is vice president of Winner Distributing Co.

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