The recent letter by Marie Gallagher that talked about the pride our troops have serving under our Commander in Chief is simply not true for a large percentage of our military. In point of fact, I think it is safe to say that morale, especially in the Army, hasnt been this bad since the Vietnam War. Like Vietnam, dishonesty at the top, a questionable mission and no viable ending is sucking the spirit from our troops.
The justification for war -- WMD and the Iraq-terrorist connections to 9/11 -- have been shown to be untrue. What is true is that the war against Al-Qaeda (who were the real terrorists of 9/11) was shortchanged to pursue another agenda, namely Iraq. Al-Qaeda is now stronger than ever, the entire Arab world hates and distrusts us (even though we did take down Saddam Hussein), Americans traveling in Europe are urged not to wear clothing that identifies them as American, and we have lost any moral ground we once claimed with our shameful attempt to gut the Geneva Convention protocols for treating prisoners.
My daughter, who is currently in the Army at Ft. Lewis, Washington, and who recently completed tours of duty in Germany and Kosovo, reports that on the recent visit by President Bush to Ft. Lewis, each company was requested to have five soldiers to line up behind the president as he addressed the media. Only two soldiers from her company would volunteer; three had to be ordered to participate in this staged, artificial photo-op.
My nephew, recently back from Iraq, reported on the anger and frustration his fellow soldiers felt while sweltering in 100-degree heat with just one fan for their barracks, while right across the street a civilian contractor had his air-conditioned trailer while also earning four times as much money (tax free).
Tours of duty extended, unable to be discharged after time served and even being called back to active duty after being discharged (so much for the Volunteer Army) -- is it any wonder that re-enlistments are down and morale is so bad? We cannot afford four more years of this administration. Please -- support our troops -- vote Bush out!
Bob Baker -- U.S. Army
In praise of labyrinths
My answer to a question asked in a letter in the July 8 issue (Petoskeys Labyrinth Peril) is yes! I would be delighted to have my children and grandchildren walk a labyrinth at the Petoskey Public Library, or anywhere else. I have walked labyrinths on the shores of St. Columbas Bay (on the island of Iona in Scotland), in the Chartres Cathedral in France and in the Swiss Alps town of Wildhus, birthplace of Ulrich Zwingli, to name a few places.
A labyrinth is a prayer/meditation/contemplation tool. The choice of terms depends upon the participants faith tradition and degree of faith in a higher power. As a Christian, my interpretation is shaped by my faith, but others can and do have other interpretations. That is the beauty of the labyrinth.
A labyrinth is not a maze. One cannot get lost in a labyrinth so there is no need for confusion or anxiety. There is one winding path leading to the center. The same path is taken to walk out of the labyrinth. People walk the labyrinth for many reasons: seeking healing and wholeness, peace of mind, an answer to a question, a renewal of faith, a deeper knowledge of self, and more.
The journey inward is called purgation. It is a time for shedding that which is keeping us from a deeper relationship with our creator or from a deeper knowledge of our true selves. There may be feelings, thoughts, actions or attitudes that need to be released and relinquished during this time.
The center is the place of union. Many people spend some time in the center experiencing a oneness: with their creator, themselves, the universe around them and/or humanity. During this time of silence some people experience inspiration and a sense of communication from a higher power or from within their own hearts, minds and bodies.
The journey outward is called illumination. During this time people may receive renewed energy as well as a sense of purpose and direction for living their lives as mature people in harmony with their creator and/or our planet.
Every labyrinth walk is different. All of my labyrinth walks have been positive, fruitful experiences. The day I walked the labyrinth in the Swiss Alps, rain clouds stretched across the sky above the peaks. As I came to the center, I knelt down in the grass for a brief time of prayer and contemplation. For just a moment, the sun shone through the clouds and cast my shadow into the very heart of the labyrinth before disappearing again for the remainder of the day. The vision of that light surrounding me will forever bring me confidence in the love my creator has for me, a great feeling of joy and a deep desire to share that love with all of humanity. May all children everywhere come to know overflowing love, unlimited joy and enduring peace.
For anyone interested in a well-written and well-researched book I recommend Walking a Sacred Path by Lauren Artress.
Linda Alderman TC
The ‘Beat Bush‘ CD
Thank you for the article in your July 8-14 issue on our CD, Into the Blue -- Northern Michigan Artists in Support of Democracy. Informally known as the Beat Bush CD, Into the Blue supports the effort to oust the criminal gang which holds power in our country for the sole purpose of looting it.
Mr. Downes seems a little disappointed that the songs do not express more outrage and protest. First of all, the repertoires of the 15 artists/bands involved could not have produced a collection along those lines. But more importantly, the thread running thorugh this compiliation is a deep love for this land and the people in it. The beauty in the artwork and music may seem simply polite to Downes, but there may be more power in these things than he realizes.
Ultimately, it is grassroots organizing to get a big turnout of educated voters which will sweep Bush & Co. from power. Into the Blue supports that effort by funding it. The CD is selling very well (I sold $1,300 worth just myself in the last two weeks) and promises to put some serious money into organizing efforts in our part of the state.
Into the Blue is available from the Manistee, Benzie, Leelanau and Grand Traverse Democrats and at the Bookie Joint in TC, Artsie Phartsies in Cadillac, East Shore Market in Beulah, Cabin Fever in Honor, Tamarack Gallery in Omena, Creative Expressions in Onekema, and at Northern Spirits, Hokansens and American Cleaners in Manistee. Or go the the website, www.manisteedems.org to order and for an updated list of outlets.
Tim Joseph Brethren
Down on military
In response to the letter by Esther Posner and others that opposed the Blue Angels show, I too was saddened. I have several friends and a sister that are proudly serving in the military. I found it ironic that the writers oppose the very military that is protecting their right to protest them. Why arent more people protesting the terrorists?
Please understand that I am not disagreeing on their right to speak out against war. Our military, Homeland Security and local law enforcement are in place to protect us. If it wasnt for them, we would not have the freedoms we so often take for granted. I have been to several other countries where the simple freedoms and opportunities that we have here are just a dream. War is a horrible and devastating thing, but are we to just sit on our hands, protest our military, and let terrorism have free reign? I for one value my freedoms too much to give them up without a fight.
Hans J. Benghauser via email
The article Wednesdays with Denny the Gumbo Guy by Carol Ebright was great. I hope to see her work more often in the future. She is very talented. The article drew me in. What a talented writer! Again, I hope to see more of her work in the future.
Jennifer Wolf via email
Stamp out smoking
Kudos to the Blissfest Music Organization (BMO) for establishing smoke-free areas as part of their outdoor annual folk festival!
This was the second year after their board voluntarily passed a policy restricting smoking from all Blissfest building structures, under all Blissfest-sponsored tents, and at all designated childrens areas. No-smoking signs are posted at all of these locations. The smoke-free policy is included in the written program, festival guidelines, and is announced periodically during the festival.
The majority of festival-goers, volunteer staff, and musicians are very happy with the policy and most smokers have been cooperative.
Just because we are outdoors, doesnt mean that second-hand smoke is not a problem. Aside from the health benefits of not breathing in the smoke, the policy cuts down on littering of cigarette butts and reduces the risk of fire. As a family-friendly event, younger children see fewer adults smoking, and learn that it is not normal to smoke and more normal to see it restricted.
How is it enforced? Easily.... by the majority of 5,000 smoke-free guests who point out the signs to smokers and educate them politely about the policy. Its similar to what we now do at schools, sports events, etc.
So, why cant the Cherry Festival do the same thing, especially in the food areas and at the outdoor concerts? Other restrictions exist, like no dogs, no alcohol except at the beer tent, and no skateboards.
Are they not aware that 75% of adults do not smoke and that most smokers dont object to having smoke-free areas? Please let them know that youd like them to create a smoke-free policy too!
Contact The National Cherry Festival,
ph. 231-947-4230, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa Danto, RN, BSN, MPH,
NCTAS Leelanau County Tobacco Task Force Coordinator
Harley Sachs neutral article, Polarized Thinking (7/15) was marred by his commending to us a more tolerant... society.
Exactly what is it that we are supposed to be tolerant of? Lying, cheating and stealing? Enron-type accounting? Statutory rape? Speeding, drunk driving? I doubt very much that Sachs is tolerant of any of these things, or any others that could extend this list at length.
It seems clear that we should not be universally tolerant of everything, but that it is healthy to be tolerant of some things and not of others. Thats what our laws and enforcement are about, as Martha Stewart is about to learn.
John Tanton Petoskey
900 lives lost in vain
David Kay, the former Bush-appointed chief weapons inspector in Iraq, recently said that Mr. Bush should have been able to tell before the war that the evidence did not exist for an imminent threat from Iraqi WMD and that it was not something that required a war. Bush has been passing the buck to the CIA; Kay isnt buying that.
Bushs blunder in Iraq has cost 900 Americans their lives so far, with almost 6,000 Americans injured, according to the Pentagon.
Our troops are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for us. And all they ask in return is that we put their lives in harms way only when it is absolutely necessary.
Remember when starting a war was an extreme and immoral act? It still is.
Doug Long via email
Last weeks article, Cozy Town Center or Mega Mall? stated that there were plans to have links to the proposed Acme town center to the Grand Traverse Resort. In fact, there are no plans at present.