Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

January 06, 2007

Faith is inspiration for charity, peace

It has become fashionable to try to blame belief in God for most human conflict ("Faith: Something worth fighting for," Dec 31). But in fact just the opposite is the case.

If belief in God was truly the prime motivator in human conflict, one might expect its opposite, atheism, to produce a harvest of peace and concord.

Yet the only officially atheistic system of government ever implemented, Communism, resulted in a toll of human death and misery unparalleled in the history of mankind.

This suggests that removal of belief in God might not result in greater peace on Earth but instead in something more cataclysmic and sinister than the world has ever known.

On the other hand, the writer of this review failed to mention the many benefits to mankind that belief in God has brought about - even to nonbelievers.

These include countless hospitals, charities such as Mother Teresa's organization and the Salvation Army, famine relief and medical help for the poor, and schools and literacy outreach to the developing world, to name but a few charitable projects inspired by faith.

Religious faith has also been a driving force in the worldwide abolition of such deplorable practices as infanticide, cannibalism and slavery.

Without the belief in God that drives these efforts, the world would be a far colder, harsher, less humane place to live.

Hugh Thompson

Ellicott City

Arrests won't end epidemic of murder

Whatever the answer to the epidemic murder rate among black males, it is apparent that there is no panacea available ("Patterns persist in city killings," Jan. 1).

It is also apparent that simply increasing arrests and incarcerating more black men with more "meaningful punishment" is not the answer.

It must be asked if such crime and homicide in any way benefit the power structure - especially if that structure is based on a racist paradigm that historically has been founded on the dehumanization and destruction of black men.

Obviously, the problem is systemic and deep-rooted.

Young black men are killing each other, and hence themselves, with a vengeance that would make even the most abashed Klansman effuse with glee, and this should be disturbing and alarming to everyone.

This is a problem that affects not just young black men but also their families, friends and the entire population of Baltimore.

There couldn't be a more crucial time to consider a more radical, holistic approach to the constellation of ills that plague the city's African-American males. And the answer may, in fact, lie outside of our crime-and-punishment-oriented paradigm.

Baltimore is one of the nation's deadliest cities, particularly for young black men, and it's going to take more than a high arrest rate to arrest this tumultuous tide.

Tracy Stott

Baltimore

Longer sentences could curb killers

Since most of the city's killing suspects and victims are people who have long criminal histories, it stands to reason that there is something wrong with the criminal justice system in the city ("Patterns persist in city killings," Jan. 1).

Perhaps we should examine the sentences given to violent offenders, and ask ourselves why the city's judges aren't putting these predators in jail for much longer periods of time.

Maybe if the judges did their duty and incarcerated the criminals for long sentences, instead of giving them probation so often, the murder rate would go down.

I know, for instance, that the Dawsons would be alive if the young man who killed them had been in jail instead of on probation.

So let's try something novel: Put the criminals in jail.

Jay Davis

Churchville

Escalating the war will add to carnage

The Bush administration's greatest achievement has been its success in the clever selection of the language used to present its view of reality ("Making progress on Iraq, Bush says," Dec. 28).

The war in Iraq was sold with all the savvy of a light beer commercial. Terms such as "weapons of mass destruction," "Operation Iraqi Freedom," "Mission Accomplished," "as they stand up we'll stand down" and "Islamo-fascists," to name just a few, have been used to distort what really is happening.

We all know the powerful effect of setting the terms used in an argument. If you can get people thinking in terms of a "death tax" rather than an inheritance tax or of "enhancing" Social Security rather than privatizing it, your attempt to change public perceptions has already half-succeeded.

The media have gone along with this manipulation of public sentiment since President Bush came into office, and are continuing to do so even now.

Everywhere I read the word "surge" used for the soon-to-be-announced increase in American troops stationed in Iraq.

"Surge" implies the gentle lapping of the tide on a sunlit beach or a muscular, forward movement toward a worthwhile goal.

What is really going to happen, however, despite the clearly stated wishes of the American people to wind down America's involvement in Iraq, should be called what it is - "escalation."

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