Political division spurs graffiti
It's a shame that someone would paint such graffiti on the wall of Columbia's City Hall. While it is my hope that the person or persons responsible will be bought to justice, I also blame conservative politicians who have made it their business to undermine President Obama every chance they get.
When will they realize that hate will never prevail, only love will? I hope that one day they will read the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said, "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."
Please don't be fools for popularity.
VICTOR L. RODGERS
Graffiti embarrassing, but move on
As a city, we find ourselves embarrassed by stupidity. Not all that unusual for South Carolinians in the year of Mark Sanford, Joe Wilson and horse lovers.
However giving legs to this "racist graffiti" story serves no purpose. It is sad and ugly, but who's hurt? Or surprised? Of course it's inexcusable, but are mayoral candidates really fearful to run for office because there are idiots living here too? A couple of pathetic juvenile miscreants and a can of spray paint should not slow the wheels of progress. The offending word may be the No. 1 pejorative according to our PC hall monitors, yet this epithet, ironically, is heard more frequently - and publicly- in hip hop culture than from marginalized white racists.
HARRISON M. PALMER
Health plan not good enough for Congress
With health care reform being portrayed by Congress and the media as the greatest law ever for the American people, I have some questions. First, if this bill is so great for the American people, why are there more than 100 pages that detail exemptions for members of Congress and federal employees? Second, why weren't the American people given the chance to get that same plan at the same cost? Do members of Congress think they are better than most of the American people, or is this just a ploy to buy 30 million votes?
ROBERT J. BUECHLER
Lots of work left to do on health care
However flawed the House and Senate health care bills may be, there is still an opportunity for ordinary citizens to let their congressional leaders know what they prefer in the hope that the final bill will improve upon both versions.
The House version still contains remnants of a public option, which polls say the public prefers. A public option was stripped from the Senate version.
The House version would pay for reform by a small surcharge on the wealthy. The Senate version would be paid for in part by taxing the benefits packages of some working Americans, placing more of the burden on the middle class.
In neither version are there real provisions for protecting women's health or for holding insurance companies to the same anti-trust laws as other companies, thereby preventing monopolies and price gouging. These are gaping flaws that can only be changed through a public that is informed and motivated to demand more from their legislators.
There is much work to be done. Let's get busy.
Rabbi's story sparks Santa memory
Marc Wilson's Dec. 21 guest column, "A rabbi is dreaming of a white Christmas," brought back a really good memory. When my 14-year-old son was about 5 years old, he asked if he could visit with Santa Claus. I didn't see why not, but I didn't want to take him to a store Santa where the message was very commercial. Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Lexington had a sign reading "Saturday breakfast with Santa," and that seemed to fit the bill.
David's turn came to visit with Santa (who was actually the church's minister), and when asked what he would like, he just said to talk to him (Santa). David didn't really know about asking for Christmas day gifts..
After they talked for a couple of minutes, Santa exclaimed, "Ho, Ho, Ho and ...? and David completed with, "and a Happy Chanukah" Santa stated, "That will do just fine." I explained that Santa is for everyone even if the message is different. We had a good breakfast that morning.
As a new year begins, consider the homeless
Family Shelter is wrapping up its 30th year providing emergency food and shelter, transitional housing and counseling to Columbia's homeless families with children. Although this time of year brings an overwhelming amount of community support in the form of gifts and celebrations, we remain concerned at the prospect of continuing to tackle the growing problem of family homelessness in 2010 with very limited resources. Like many local nonprofit organizations, Family Shelter is struggling to provide desperately needed services while experiencing a substantial decline in donations.
Nearing the end of 2009, Family Shelter had served 124 families, but received 576 requests for assistance. After exhausting their few options, homeless families living in cars, homes without heat, overcrowded apartments and other unfit places often end up on the doorstep of the Family Shelter hoping that one of our 15 rooms is available.
Currently, much attention and money has been given to the Midlands Housing Alliance's plans to redevelop the Salvation Army site. This important project is critical to Columbia's success in addressing homelessness and should be supported by the community as a whole. However, the project will not provide any support to homeless families with children or funding for agencies such as the Family Shelter that are forced to continually do more with less. As the economic downtown continues to affect parents living in poverty, I believe that we must take a hard look at what more can be done for the children who end up homeless.
Christians need to be good examples
Statements made by leaders of several Christian denominations confuse and concern me. Some Catholic bishops have declared "war" against abortion-providers and politicians who support a woman's right to choose. Likewise, Southern Baptist minister the Rev. Frank Page called on Columbia International University graduates to "put on (their) full armor of God," to be "giant killers," to "fight evil in the world," and he reminded them of the stone slung by David to slay Goliath. Are these statements a distortion of Christianity?
Perhaps the use of terms such as "war" and "killing" and "fighting" are the result of an excessive preoccupation with the Old Testament, which is full of wars, slaughters, plagues and suffering. On the other hand, in the New Testament the teachings of Jesus Christ are based on forgiveness and love. The "enemy" that we need to struggle against is within each of us, not in others. This is the only evil we have any real control over. Other people cannot be converted to Christianity by force or by words, but by our example.
ANTHONY J. DISTEFANO