Repeating mistakes of the past

As U.S. occupation forces find themselves increasingly on the defensive, a note of desperation can be detected in the national debate over how best to respond to an increasingly tough Iraqi armed resistance.

Some analysts have advocated a near scorched-earth policy in areas like Tikrit and Fallujah, known to support the rebels. Others have even called for “carpet bombing” the most intransigent towns and villages. As for handling those millions of angry, anti-American Iraqis, Sen. Trent Lott suggested recently that “we should just mow ’em all down,” a remark he soon retracted.

It is often said that Iraq is becoming a new Vietnam. The more apt comparison is to the Soviet experience in Afghanistan. Funny how little the last, though declining, superpower has learned from recent history. The U.S. was supportive of “terrorist” methods against the Soviet occupiers then; you’d think they’d be more prepared for them now in Iraq. What goes around, comes around.

Cord MacGuire

Boulder CO

Who is a saint?

The Catholic Church is in process of making Mother Teresa a saint according to its criteria. She was an Albanian nun who worked in the poorest area of Calcutta for many years and is known around the world for this. Aside from the questions of religious belief, a person whose life is promoted as saintly is set up as an example worthy of emulation by others.

Is Mother Teresa’s life one to emulate? What can we learn from the way she lived and worked?

Personally I do not think it is useful for someone who chose to live celibate to comment on contraception and abortion (Mother Teresa opposed these). Nor do I consider a life of celibacy better than a life involving sex because sex is part of normal human behavior and is an important part of human relationships – sex is good, not sinful.

Nor do I think it is excusable for a widely known public figure to claim not to be involved in politics, when in fact Mother Teresa had a friendship with the wealthy and notorious Duvalier family which did such horrible damage to the country of Haiti.

But aside from these aspects, the main problem I have with emulating Mother Teresa’s life is that her caring work with the poor for years and years never had an impact on the root causes of poverty, never made a dent in the economic and social system that tolerated the misery she tried to assuage.

In this world today there are thousands, perhaps millions of dedicated people of faith who work not only to provide the immediate needs of the hungry, the sick, the homeless, the imprisoned. But also they work to organize people as a force for material change for the better in the short run, and the elimination of poverty and all its associated ills in the long run.

Mother Teresa was once asked what she would so if there were no more poor people to care for and she said in effect that she would be out of a job. I think that would have been a more saintly goal.

Barbara Russum

Chicago IL

Brach’s candies leave foul taste

The following is an excerpt from the text of a letter sent to Brach’s Candies on their announced plans to shut down their Chicago plant:

Due to a recent decision (moving your manufacturing facilities out of the country) by your corporate leaders, I will no longer be purchasing any products containing the Brach’s or Stollwerck’s Trademark. Recent news releases state “Brach’s is excited about the future potential here in the United States” and speak of “the substantial expansion” of U.S. activities, but the decisions made by your corporate executives seem to contradict these statements.

As corporate giants such as yourselves continue to move more operations to other countries, you will drastically reduce your manufacturing costs. This will greatly benefit your corporate executives in short-term profits. However, as more and more companies follow this trend, more and more American families will find themselves unemployed or employed at greatly reduced wages.

Meanwhile the top corporate executives who were responsible for the decisions that led to the whole situation will have enough financial freedom to live the remainder of their lives enjoying the sunset from their beachfront property in the Caribbean islands. I, for one, will not allow myself, my family, or anyone else that I can possibly convince to contribute to this unethical treatment of your American employees.

I am a business owner, community leader, leader of the Christian Community, and a very concerned US citizen. I will be aggressively speaking-out to the community about your recent decision, in the hope that I can persuade my fellow American citizens to boycott your products, and help do their part to stop this “emotional and financial rape” of your American employees and the American consumer.

David W. Huffman

via e-mail