Time anti-nuke protesters passed the torchI was moved by...

LETTERS

July 21, 1996

Time anti-nuke protesters passed the torch

I was moved by the July 5 article on Phil Berrigan and Liz McAlister ("Berrigans slip in, and no one cares"). The last line, " 'To hell with it,' he said and walked away,'' haunts me. I knew I couldn't just put the article down and not say anything. I got the feeling that Berrigan was discouraged, that he and McAlister wondered whether their dedication to disarmament had accomplished anything, whether their sacrifices have been worth it.

Berrigan and McAlister are my personal heroes. They have led moral lives, dedicating themselves to the prevention of nuclear destruction. They fought for us while many of us stayed home, raising our families, going to our jobs and living our day-to-day lives. I thank them for that.

If I start thinking cynically about the human race, I remind myself there are people like them. They actually asked themselves what kind of life they should lead, possibly they asked what God would want them to do. It takes originality and free-thinking to ask this question, but it takes honesty and courage not to flinch from the answer. Apparently, they not only didn't flinch, but took the answer to heart and pitched in with life-long commitment.

Certainly there are several possible answers to such a question, all arrived at in good faith. But one of the likeliest would have to be to devote your life to preventing a nuclear holocaust. They've devoted heart and soul, intelligence and imagination, creativity and passion. And they have sacrificed financial security.

We need people like Berrigan and McAlister, like Mandela, King, and Gandhi. We need people who set a high standard of commitment to moral action, willing to sacrifice personal comfort and security for a greater good. Many of us loved reading about their demonstrations, admired their work, and were inspired by their lives.

So when I read ''to hell with it,'' I felt first a little sadness, hoping it didn't mean he was giving up. And then I thought, if he wants to quit now and pass the torch to a younger group of idealists, let him, he deserves it. He and McAlister took their turn; it's somebody else's now. I want to see them basking on a Caribbean beach, sipping mint juleps, playing a little volleyball, sharing wonderful conversations with warm and witty friends, dressing for dinner, and dancing the night away.

That's my fantasy and I'm sticking to it.

Evelyn Elizabeth

Dundalk

Employ retirees as urban gardeners

I loved John Brain's Opinion Commentary column on "The absence of gardeners'' -- a thoughtful commentary on American society that appeared, appropriately, on July 4.

I, too, have enjoyed the gardens of England, not just the country estate gardens, but the tiny plots in front of almost every city dwelling, only big enough for a rose bush or two or a small patch of flowers. Mr. Brain, however, focused upon the public parks, all well-tended and full of flowers, contrasting them with Baltimore parks, which are often ''wastelands'' full of weeds and trash.

His contention was that well-cared for parks would encourage foot traffic and that caring for them -- that is, gardening -- would alleviate unemployment.

Sadly, John Brain's thesis was savaged in a July 12 letter by Ted Hartka ("Free tips on urban gardening"), who called Mr. Brain's article a ''silly little piece.'' According to Mr. Hartka, spending tax money on such amenities as caring for public parks is useless and non-productive and that unemployed youths conducting ''business'' on street corners would ridicule the idea of working as gardeners.

That may be true, but Mr. Brain did not specify that the gardeners be youths. Most of the gardeners whom I've seen in England were mature men, sometimes even elderly. What is wrong with offering work to unemployed older men, who might have been laid off or who, retired, need to supplement their pensions?

Furthermore, it is at least possible, despite Mr. Hartka's cynicism, that a gardener or two assigned to each park or square could discourage the vagrants or litterers who trash our streets.

It seems to have worked in London; why not give it a try in Baltimore?

Mary W. Griepenkerl

Baltimore

Involve residents in school decision

After reading the July 11 article, " 'Crisis' looms over school crowding," I feel the need to scream, "Beware, residents of Baltimore County!"

As a resident of the Catonsville area, I have seen how the county intends to take our voted loan approval money for renovating the middle-school property on Bloomsbury Road and divert it to build a new elementary school in a community that is already suffering from enormous noise and traffic pollution created by the building of several softball fields on the Catonsville Middle School site.

Ask the residents whose properties are adjacent to the existing school and softball fields what the noise level is at 8 a.m. on a Saturday as hundreds of screaming children are getting their games under way.

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