Many faiths, one truth | May 26, commentary
Focus on what is important in life
This column by the Dalai Lama should be required introductory reading for any basic college religion course. The opening paragraphs capture the essence of all the vanities of various religions and their practitioners, neatly summarized by "every religion has a sense of exclusivity as part of its core identity." I also laud his criticism of extreme atheists who love to stir the pot of religious controversy.
You can trace the exclusivity concept to virtually all the conflicts, both wars and civil strife, which impact national and global societies. Statements suggesting "the only way to the Father is through me," that one group of biblical tribes is superior to others because they were born legitimately, or that a religion is best because it communicates directly with God rather than through an intermediary are prime examples of what start and sustain conflicts around the globe.
I still remember in a Bible class I took, where the leader looked at me with raised eyebrow and asked, "Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God?" as though it was some sort of litmus test. Whether he is, or even lived, is not as important to me as the teachings in the Beatitudes, which the Dalai Lama points out have commonality with other religions.
Stop worrying about where you might be going and who might or might not be there. What is important is each day of life you are given and what you do with it, mainly in exercising the universal principles of compassion, kindness, and love.
Bill Ackerman, Homosassa
A sneaky attempt to trick the voters | May 27, Howard Troxler column
Where's the dishonesty?
The usual progressive, Democratic suspects including the ACLU, NAACP, the Service Employees International Union, the League of Women Voters and now our local champion of the Little Guy, Howard Troxler, are beside themselves with righteous indignation over the alleged unfairness and dishonesty of the Republican-led Legislature's placing of Amendment 7 on the November ballot.
But just exactly what is unfair or dishonest about gaming a political process within the rules in order to gain an advantage just as the aforementioned groups have attempted with Amendments 5 and 6? Amendments 5 and 6 effectively outlaw gerrymandering, which is that process of grouping and concentrating like-minded folks into the same district to ensure that their special, parochial interests are adequately represented — unless, according to the language in Amendments 5 and 6, you're gerrymandering to ensure the election of minority representatives.
Some minorities have a history of supporting Democratic candidates along with some targeted ethnic groups like poor, working Hispanics who are thought to be receptive to liberal, redistributionist policies. Therefore it's not unreasonable to speculate that Amendments 5 and 6 are contrived to deliver a clear advantage to Democrats.
The clarification language in Amendment 7 on the other hand preserves the status quo, which provides opportunities for electoral advantage to both Republicans and Democrats. Where's the dishonesty?
As Republicans discovered in 2006 and 2008, elections have consequences. Obviously the party that controls the state legislatures will have an advantage in the congressional redistricting process. Is this unfair? Maybe, but if so, then so is our entire political system. This is the basic political dynamic in a representative, constitutional republic. The only way we'll ever see the fairness and impartiality that Troxler and others fallaciously claim to seek is when congressional districts are drawn on stone tablets offered up from a burning bush.
T.S. "Mac" McDonnell, St. Petersburg
This jobless era will transform us | May 23
One more doomsayer
Don Peck's super-bleak article reminds me of Paul Ehrlich's book The Population Bomb way back in 1968. Let's hope Peck's projections about the consequences of today's unemployment — "Ultimately, it is likely to warp our politics, our culture, and the character of our society for years" — prove to be as forgettable as Ehrlich's declarations that because of increasing population, massive starvation throughout the world would transpire in the 1970s and 1980s. Didn't happen.
One critic of Ehrlich's at the time wrote, "As soon as one predicted disaster doesn't occur, the doomsayers skip to another. Why do they always think we're at a turning point — or at the end of the road?" An apt indictment for Peck's howl as well.
Robert Armbruster, Seminole
This jobless era will transform us | May 23
Ring of truth
I am a 55-year-old man who suffered a job loss 25 years ago. I not only lost my job, but I also had to start over in a new career. I was unemployed for only six months, but unemployment and subsequent underemployment were devastating to my self-esteem. My wife wasn't working at the time of my layoff. My family and I moved three times over the year after my job loss, following my jobs from place to place.
I now have a good career that pays well, but it took me 10 years to get my salary back up to what it had been before I was laid off.
It was interesting to read Don Peck's discussion of the strains on families following a man's loss of a job. What really struck me was a quote from an unemployed man who lived through the Great Depression. He said that he was losing his wife. I am recently divorced, 25 years after my job loss. I feel that my job loss 25 years ago contributed significantly to my recent divorce. Peck seems to give credence to my opinion on at least one of the causes of my divorce.
I would suggest to people who have recently lost their jobs that if possible, they should immediately consider moving to any part of the country to preserve their careers and to maintain their level of income, even if it means moving someplace they're not excited about. You can always move back when the economy improves.
Ralph Kerr, Land O'Lakes
Value all human life
Other states are already successfully using required ultrasound to protect the unborn. The value, sanctity and protection of human life should be an inborn desire in all of us.
Mother Teresa once said, "If a mother would take the life of her own child, what is left of civilization?" Ultrasound imaging of a fetus is already in effect in abortion clinics. They're just not shown to their prospective patient, since they might lose money if the potential mother changes her mind.
Why not give all women the opportunity to show value to human life. Intrusion? Aren't you glad you weren't "intruded on"?
Larry P. Goodman, Temple Terrace