Wednesday, October 3, 2001
I am the case-manager for our local Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. I am writing you from my office where 10 minutes ago, my heart sank while listening to a message from a little boy that is on my wait-list. He wants to know if I have anyone in mind to be his Big Brother. This kid has been waiting seven months for a Big Brother, and later today I will have to call him back and tell him to keep waiting.
I rifled through the Hood River News today, and as has been the case for the last two weeks, I am encouraged and comforted by how many people in our community want to do something to help out our country men almost 3,000 miles away. People holding benefits, donating wages, giving blood and holding memorial services. Out of the tragedy have come blessings; strength, compassion and action. In addition, people are taking account of their loved ones, and recognizing the importance of prioritizing time spent with them. I would suggest that the fourth blessing from this national disaster is a renewed sense of the things that last. Not money, not buildings, but character, kindness, and memories.
During the last few weeks, we have seen the emergence of a number of heroes, in the form of everyday men and women who demonstrated great character and courage in their attempts and successes rescuing victims of the bombing. Many people have been roused out of apathy; their only question being, what do I do? Where do I go? The president of the Red Cross was on the radio a few days ago, saying that they had an excess of blood donations, which was great, but that blood is perishable. The problem they are looking at now is, how to keep people coming back to donate as the immediacy of the tragedy fades. Until Sept. 11, they have had a chronic shortage of blood for recipients.
In saying all the above, my point is this: We don't know the future. Economists are predicting a recession, there is the impending threat of biological warfare, and fear of consecutive terrorist attacks. However, there is always today, and never a better time to start investing in the things that matter. Tragedy happens everyday all over the world, in small and large form. We just live such sheltered lives that it rarely seems relevant to us. Let the fourth blessing be as true in a year and ten years as it is today. Prioritize.
Invest your time in kids that may someday grow up to be heroes. Make memories for them and yourself. Make a turbulent world a little kinder. Help your countrymen here, as well as 3,000 miles away. Don't be content with lighting a candle; invest time in a child's life. Teach them character and kindness, give them memories; they will remember, you will make a difference -- the imperishable contribution.
Thank you for your attention to this letter.
'Write several letters'
In response to Wayne Haythorn's letter in the Sept. 29 issue of the Hood River News, about "collateral damage" and writing "just one letter" to our legislative office in Washington, D.C., I say lets "write several letters" but make sure we show our support for all of the sanctions toward Iraq and any other dictator like Saddam Hussein. We, as a nation, are the most giving of our resources. We give money, food, and medicine and ask for very little in return, most of the time we don't seem to even get a thank you, let alone a repayment of money. Why should we give to a dictator, Saddam Hussein, who will only spit back in our face and kill our neighbors if given half a chance. Saddam Hussein, alone, is responsible for food and medicine not geting to the people of Iraq. Every death in Iraq, either throught the sanctions or by direct order of Saddam Hussein, is on his hands, not ours.
I, as a citizen of this great country, do not want any of my hard-earned tax dollars spent on Saddam. To our congressmen and senators, keep up the good work!
Keep 'common ground'
We all mourn the tragic loss of innocent lives on Sept. 11. The original shock of the event galvanized world opinion in support of our country. Since then I have heard many opinions about "what to do" but most people recognize two points of agreement. This common ground that we all share as Americans and indeed as human beings is (1) our outrage at the killing of innocent lives an (2) our desire to live in security. This common ground should be the basis of our response. We have already lost almost 7,000 innocent lives. Will we really feel better and safer if, a year from now, another 7,000 or 70,000 innocent lives are lost due to our military "crusade" or due to a policy of inciting one of several civil wars in this desperate region of the world, or due to the starvation and illness of innocent refugees fleeing our bombs?
We all seek security for ourselves and our families. But anti-terrorist campaigns often increase insecurity. The British took over Northern Ireland promisng an anti-terrorist campaign that would bring security to the region. Decades later the problem was much worse and it is only now being resolved -- not by an anti-terrorist campaign -- but by listening seriously to the legitimate grievances of the other side.
The fanatics who perpetrated this crime against humanity on Sept. 11 should be apprehended and brought to justice in an international court of justice. But we will not have real security until we listen seriously to the legitimate grievances of the majority of the people of this region such as (1) no U.S. miltary based in Saudi Arabia -- the location of their most holy of shrines. (How would you feel about a Pakistani military base on the Oregon Coast?); and (2) "homeland security" for the Palestinians. Most of our allies recognize these grievances as both legitimate and rational.
Terrorists are often recruited from two major grouups -- orphaned children and refugee camps. A rational response should not do anything to increase the numbers in these two groups.