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Letters to the editor

April 16, 2003

Peace is better



To the editor:


As a Lutheran pastor, I read with interest the article in Sunday's Herald-Mail concerning clergy reaction to the war with Iraq. I was disappointed, however, to find no mention of either of the historic currents which have guided for centuries Christian thought and deliberation on war-peace issues.

One of those currents is pacifism, the refusal to participate in any kind of violence, but rather to advocate and work for nonviolent solutions to all the problems that beset this fallen world. Christian pacifists apply Jesus' call to love our enemies and St. Paul's admonition not to "repay anyone evil for evil" not only to personal relationships, but to life in society as well.

While often criticized as a cowardly means of escaping the dangers of war, pacifism is a courageous stand, especially where the prevailing attitude is "don't get mad, get even."

The other current, and the one with which our Lutheran tradition is most comfortable, is the Just War Principle. That current affirms along with pacifism that war is evil and contrary to God's purpose for humanity (never "the right thing"), but sometimes must be engaged in nevertheless to prevent an even greater evil from occurring, e.g., in World War II the spread of Nazism throughout the world. Before advocating war as an option, however, one must consider certain guidelines: The war must be a last resort, the war must have a just cause, there must be a reasonable prospect of achieving just goals, the war must not cause destruction which outweighs the existing evil and the defeated are to be shown mercy.

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Christians can (and do) reasonably disagree on whether the present conflict in Iraq qualifies as a "just war" (my own opinion is that it does not), but either way the Principle helps us look at the issue in a larger context.

The fact that we are now engaged in war and that our present priority as Christian clergy is prayer for our troops and for a just and speedy end to this conflict as well as supporting families affected by it should not render discussion of those two currents moot.

They remind us that war is a moral and spiritual issue as well as a political one. They join us to the collective reflection and wisdom of the Church through the centuries, so that our opinions are based on something more than subjective interpretations of Bible verses too often pulled out of context.

They even enrich our prayer petitions by instructing us that the suffering of war is painful to both sides and therefore by inviting us to pray for the Iraqis whose pain is as sharp as our own.

David B. Kaplan
St. Mark's Lutheran Church
Hagerstown




Munson is wrong



To the editor:


I am writing in response to an article I read online regarding full-day kindergarten. Washington County Commissioner John Munson's remarks about kindergarten being a "babysitter...to enjoy your children at home while you can," are not only ludicrous but unrealistic in today's society.

Many families consist of only one adult in the household, and those who are fortunate enough to have a two-parent household still need two incomes to survive. Washington County has a wonderful Head Start program. However, there is a gap between that and first grade.

What does Munson suggest these parents do during the interim between Head Start and first grade? My daughter attended the Head Start program here and started kindergarten. I found my child was on the bus longer than in class.

How much curriculum can be covered in a two-and-a-half hour day? I moved my child back to Baltimore City and she is now in a full-day program. She can read and write amazingly well for a 5-year old. I thank the wonderful people at the Washington County Head Start Program for her success. I also believe the full-day kindergarten program contributed to that success.

Adrianna Snyder
Baltimore, Md.

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