Chapel Hill: Opinion

What you’re saying: Diana García, Nancy Milio, Vincent M. DiSandro Sr., Tomas Baer, Jim Wilson and Thomas Steger

The symbol of mourning

Black. The absence of color. That is what comes to mind after news of the senseless massacre in Paris. Black. The symbol of mourning because to celebrate color of any kind would be an insult to the lives of those lost. Lives lost for no apparent reason other than a rampant hatred that continues to simmer in a cauldron of xenophobia and intolerance.

What has happened to our world?

Of course, we live in a time now where terrorist attacks are becoming a daily occurrence. The new “normal” as some like to say. But what happened last night is a turning point in this so-called War on Terror because there are no pre-meditated targets. Anyone’s life is up for grabs.

How will our leaders respond? To what, exactly, are they responding? When 9/11 happened, I witnessed it first-hand. The building we worked in on Park Avenue had a direct view of the Twin Towers from our offices on the 29th floor. What was our government’s response then? And what did it net us?

From where I’m standing, it has netted an escalation in this type of violence, one that does not seem to have any foreseeable end.

The feelings I’m left with are deep, deep sadness and a sense of helplessness. How does one “fight” such radicalized hatred? When did we stop looking at one another as human beings worthy of respect and a right to life?

The absence of color seems necessary right now. As a way to mark this turning point and to stop and mourn our situation instead of mindlessly retaliating at an enemy we can’t even see.

Diana García

Carrboro

Building peace

It’s hard to talk about peace, especially now, when screens are saturated with violence. The reaction is to use more violence against the perpetrators, which only breeds more of the same.

This need not be so. We are not helpless to prevent this quagmire. We can build peace.

With my fellow North Carolina Quakers, I went to the office of Sen. Thom Tillis in Washington, D.C., recently and spoke with his senior adviser, a high-ranking military man and former Bush official. We presented him with a new set of tools for addressing low-level conflict before it explodes.

This toolkit, embodied in Senate legislation soon to be introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin, The Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act, includes a top-level intergovernmental Atrocities Prevention Board (APB), a single flexible Complex Crises Fund under the U.S. Agency for International development, and an annual report to Congress by the top intelligence official on countries that are at risk of mass atrocities.

I said Sen. Tillis would be interested in this bill because:

It’s working. Under an executive order, serious turmoil in the Central African Republic was calmed through a decision by the APB to use the Complex Crises monies to support local groups to bring opposing aggressors together. Then, when violence erupted again in the republic, it did not do so in the areas where peacebuilding had strengthened social cohesion.

Secondy, it is relatively cheap: $100 million, compared with any U.S. support for warfare.

Third, it would be authorized by Congress, rather the executive, and the intelligence chief would report to Congress.

We know that Sen. Tillis cares about vets and would avoid putting military people at risk. These peacebuilding tools are one small way to deal with emerging crises before they get out of control, even though there is much else require to get at the deep sources of conflict.

We are grateful to the open hearing we had at the senator’s office, and hope he will broaden his military concern to support peacebuilding by co-sponsoring this Bill.

Nancy Milio

Chapel Hill

Liberal hypocracy

The writer of the letter “Living our principles” touches on one of my favorite subjects: liberal hypocracy. As the writer says, it is very easy to spout abstract principles but difficult to live them . And I maintain that if you do not live them you have no right to feel morally superior to anyone, as many liberals do.

Unfortunately the writer spoils a good letter by indicting the “system” which in his words “thrives on inequality, unhappiness and exploitation and ignores, criminalizes and otherwise marginalizes people.”

What “system” is he talking about? Who specifically designs and participates in this system? Who exploits and wants people to be unhappy? People criminalize themselves by committing crimes. No one criminalizes them.

I’ve only known one liberal who was not a hypocrite. He was a pastor who moved his family into a high-crime area in south Chicago and worked there for a year. He probably didn’t even have a “Coexist” or” Free Tibet” bumper sticker on his Prius.

Vincent M. DiSandro Sr.

Hillsborough

Not a single grocery store

High-density apartment buildings have been sprouting in Chapel Hill at a record pace. In downtown Chapel Hill alone, there are now four of them and more are on the way. In addition, UNC has a large number of student housing units in the form of apartments with either dedicated or shared kitchens.

Yet, there is not a single grocery store within walking distance to the people living downtown or on campus.

Even though we have free buses, there is no way students and families are going to do their food shopping by taking the bus. As a result, they are totally dependent on cars for their daily needs, which increases traffic on our already congested streets.

If you want to create a livable environment downtown, you must have access to more than just restaurants. You need food stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, etc. within a 15-minute walking radius in order to take full advantage of the high density development. Otherwise, you just create a traffic gridlock.

Tomas Baer

Chapel Hill

Teachers impress

I empathize with Mike Harris and his guest column about hard working teachers and the obstacles they face (CHN, nando.com/2rt)

Two of my grandkids are thriving in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system. Thanks to them I have visited Glenwood, Phillips and Northside many times.

Every time I walk the halls or volunteer in a classroom I am impressed with the teachers and their commitment, and equally impressed with the kids.

As a reading buddy for the last three years at Glenwood I have seen things up close and personal. One of my favorite teachers, Ms. Jaimi West, has a commitment to these kids- 24/7 – and she is but one of many.

I work with kids who are behind the curve in reading and often face real challenges at home. I have found each of these students capable of, and eager to, learn. Every session is a positive experience.

There are so many good things happening in our Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools.

I hope we can build on those and not let the inevitable challenges dampen our enthusiasm.

Jim Wilson

Pittsboro

Sneakers silence

Letter writer Sara Smith, writing in the Chapel Hill News, Nov. 8, noted that the Chapel Hill YMCA no longer accepts Silver Sneakers. The reason could be that the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA has merged with the YMCA of the Triangle, which has never accepted Silver Sneakers. The Triangle YMCA would never reply about this before the merger, so it will probably not do so now.

Thomas Steger

Chapel Hill

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