Thank you for publishing the pictures from St. Thomas More Catholic School’s Stations of the Cross and the comments they generated on editor Mark Schultz’s Facebook page.
The Chapel Hill News brought attention to the activity of youth of our community, as well as to the commemoration of an injustice that involved a man who changed all our lives. We don’t even have to believe in Jesus to be blessed by that which He did for us, because He could have said “NO!”
The objections to publishing the photos in the newspaper, in the face of the exposure to such terrible violence and destruction present in our culture and particularly media, is ridiculous. We should be more concerned that people may someday become insensitive to human death and suffering.
Another plus for the reenactment is the impact it no doubt will have on the individual lives of those who were chosen for the several parts. Similar youthful experiences influenced me greatly.
Sybil Austin Skakle
Speak out against treaty
The April 15 Chapel Hill News featured Chapel Hill stories: the Civil War, Chapel Hill the last town standing; hugs and kisses and good mornings at the Seymour Senior Center; and a tribute from The Daily Tar Heel opinion editor on the closing of Thrill City clothing shop on Franklin Street and how it helped young people fall in love with Chapel Hill.
I want to paint another picture of Chapel Hill, whose Town Council has long declared our town a human rights city. Our town and its neighbors: have fought for an end to racial profiling, an end to Islamophobia; mourned the recent death of three Muslim UNC students,; demanded an end to wars and U.S. occupations – bringing the war dollars home; challenged the increasing militarization of our nation's police forces and foreign policy; pressed for a sustainable environment and economy that supports justice for workers and a living wage; a community whose schools educates all our children,
Last week, our Congress member, David Price, held a Town Hall meeting in which Mr. Price and constituents shared common concerns over a Congress whose actions flout popular opinion and opposition to unending wars and the U.S. military role as opposed to diplomatic solutions that the Congress member continues to champion, and corporate domination of our politics, economic well being and environmental health.
But there is another war being waged against our democracy and economy that engaged a number of constituents, the impending vote on the Trans Pacific Partnership that the Obama Administration is pushing Congress for fast track authority. TPP is not just a global trade treaty. It threatens to diminish the power of our nation and local municipalities like Chapel Hill to protect our environment and commitment to livable wages for our residents. It will allow corporations to, sue for cash damages (our tax dollars will pay) over alleged violations of their rights, and own the tribunals that will hear their cases. TPP has been cast as “NAFTA on steroids,” opposed by growing numbers of labor, trade, global health and environmental advocates. Finally, our Congress members have not even read the treaty negotiated in secret as they are being asked to give an up or down vote.
So as we cherish our town, its history, its efforts to secure a decent place to live for our families, children, grandchildren, and neighbors, let's let our Congress members hear our voice in opposition to this treaty war against our communities.
Growth’s false hope
The enlarging size of structures in our town resulting from fully expected economic growth in Chapel Hill is a problem.
More economic growth is not, definitely not, the solution to emerging and converging ecological challenges we face as a community, as members of a state and nation or as global citizens.
Soon to become, patently unsustainable economic growth so adamantly advocated by the leading elders among us has become so well established in thought and behavior of citizens everywhere that intellectual honesty, reason and science are marginalized to the point of producing personal powerlessness among responsible people the world over.
The relentless march of business growth activities we see occurring within town limits as well as globally is not the result of well-intentioned people making honest errors. To the contrary, people with great wealth and the power derived from it can be seen manipulating advertisers in the mass media in order to present a growth agenda by deliberately employing half-truths and ideological idiocy, consciously sowing seeds of doubt regarding different agendas, duplicitously manufacturing “conflicts of ideas” where none would otherwise exist, and odiously deploying public relations contrivances to enable their excessive growth objectives. The character of the Town of Chapel Hill is being ravaged by evermore growth.
Human, social and environmental costs are simply becoming too high in our time for the endless economic growth agenda not to be confronted boldly by the authority of thought based upon the best available scientific evidence, by thinking that discloses to us how economic activity is subordinate to the Earth and utterly dependent upon it. Earth is “the independent whole” of which business activities are “the dependent part.” Not the other way around.
Without the natural resources and ecosystem services only the planet can provide to support economic activity, there can be no functioning businesses in our town, our state, our nation or globally. The idea of a “bigger pie” for all to share, of a growing economy that lifts all boats, gives rise to a false hope, one that can no longer be called an honest mistaken impression. The idea of an ever-expanding economic pie as the best thing for the middle class is nothing more than a willful deception of the first order.
The rich and poor
The recent letter about poverty got several things wrong. No one has ever suggested that there should be equal incomes for all. The lure of financial rewards for applying oneself and working hard has always been, and should continue to be, a central aspect of our society.
The problem is not that some are rich and some are poor; the problem is that the rich are too rich and the poor are too poor.
A person working full-time should not have to get by on a minimum wage of $1,200 a month while four of the 10 richest families in the U.S. are Walton heirs who did absolutely nothing to earn their billions. Perhaps Walmart’s CEO should not make $16,000-plus per hour – $35 million a year – which is more per hour than their lower paid employees make in an entire year. How is this moral?
The letter is also wrong about income mobility. The most comprehensive study of this matter, conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research and published last year, showed that the chance of a person born into the lowest income quintile (the lowest 20 percent) moving to the highest quintile is “significantly lower in the U.S. than in most other developed countries.” For example, in the Charlotte region the chance is a mere 4.4 percent, in Raleigh it is 5 percent, and at its highest (in San Jose, CA) it is only 12.9 percent –only 1 in 8 people. Why does the U.S. lag so far behind other countries?
The letter’s assertion that “the poverty rate has not budged” is yet another falsehood. In the five years preceding the start of the War on Poverty (1959-1963) the percentage of families living in poverty was an average of 17.6 percent. In the most recent five years for which data are available (2009-2013) the average rate was 11.6 percent (U.S. Census Bureau data). Not budged, indeed!
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