Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

December 06, 2003

Proper pacifists uphold tenets of the Gospels

In his column "Pacifist fantasies" (Opinion Commentary, Dec. 2), Joseph DiCarlo criticized the Friends Committee for National Legislation (FCNL) and others who lack a "well-considered opinion" concerning a nation's need to make war. He suggests that anyone (including myself, an Episcopalian and a Franciscan) who posts the "War is not the answer" lawn sign is substituting a platitude for thought.

His attack on the FCNL for being unashamedly pacifist is as silly as attacking the pope for practicing Catholicism. The Friends, otherwise known as the Quakers, have long been known as pacifists. Their opposition to war, like mine, is rooted in deep convictions born from the Gospels.

Jesus told us to forgive those who offend us, offer help to those who unjustly burden us, and turn the other cheek when injured. This kind of pacifism, which reflects Gospel values, is principled and brave. It certainly isn't facile, as Mr. DiCarlo suggests it is.

Some Christians believe that some wars are justified. However, many of us also believe the administration was too eager to wage a pre-emptive war in Iraq and not willing to work on a peaceful solution to the problem of Saddam Hussein.

Indeed, the shifting excuses our leaders have given for going to war indicate that they decided to strike first and justify it later -- hardly an example of Christian virtue.

Jesus didn't say, "Blessed are those who wage pre-emptive war." He said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall inherit the Earth."

It's so much more emotionally gratifying to punch the other guy's lights out than to spend time in critical self-evaluation. It's easier to blame others than to see yourself as part of the problem.

However, Jesus' words call us to remove the log from our own eye before trying to take the speck from our brother's eye. It's an uncomfortable message and one that's usually not well-received.

And I suppose that's why some people find it necessary to deride it.

Ed Schneider

Baltimore

Anti-war activists don't deal with terror

Thomas L. Friedman's column "The chant not heard from anti-war protesters" (Opinion

Commentary, Dec. 2) was an articulate and well-written depiction of the terrorist mindset and the inability of the anti-war lobby to confront it.

It helps us to understand the nature and scope of the "nihilistic form of terrorism that seeks to kill any advocates of modernism and pluralism." And the liberal left must understand that simply being anti-Bush is effectively a non-response to terrorism.

A similar thread runs through Joseph DiCarlo's "Pacifist fantasies" (Opinion

Commentary, Dec. 2).

Like Mr. DiCarlo, I live in a neighborhood that also has a number of "War is not the answer" signs. And, like Mr. DiCarlo, I have often asked myself: What is the message? And, more important, what solutions do the people displaying these signs offer?

As members of a democratic society, we each are entitled to our opinions. And I sincerely doubt that many Americans wish we were in Iraq or Afghanistan or any other lawless place on the planet.

But rather than hiding behind signs that seem mostly to be a regurgitation of the 1960s protest slogans, perhaps these concerned citizens can share with their elected representatives constructive and positive measures to stem the tide of terrorism.

Richard R. Cappe

Towson

No monopoly on silly slogans

Joseph DiCarlo's "Pacifist fantasies" (Opinion

Commentary, Dec. 2) was thoughtful, well-reasoned and right on target. He would have made his point more effectively, however, had he included the slogans (and sloganeers) from the opposite end of the spectrum.

While he's correct about the slogans he quotes being "platitudes used as a substitute for thought by people whose politics often tack far left of the mainstream," he neglects to include those platitudes and mindless sound bites employed by the current administration and its less-than-thoughtful supporters.

To wit: "My country, right or wrong," "Love it or leave it," "You're either with us or against us" and, of course, "Bring 'em on."

The left has no monopoly on stupid signs and slogans.

Harris Factor

Columbia

Drug legislation does little for seniors

I'm entirely in favor of drug benefits for seniors and the disabled, but the so-called Medicare Drug Benefit Act should really be titled the "Pork, Pork and More Pork Act" ("Health reform winners, losers," Nov. 27).

The majority of the benefits go not to citizens in need but rather to drug companies and providers and insurers.

Moreover, many people will lose benefits they already have and end up paying more for.

And isn't it interesting how drug benefit discount cards will become available in the near future, but the provisions that will lead to reductions in benefits will start in a few years, after the next election?

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