It seems to me that the vitriolic dialogue that pervades our body politic is placing our nation at risk. Perhaps our angst can be ameliorated if each of us seeks to identify a common set of principles that underlie our democracy. My premise is that these principles should be as non-political as possible and should be simply stated. Below, I humbly offer a possible statement for our shared principles.
We the people:
Stand with freedom-loving people everywhere whose democratic governments operate under a system of laws designed to respect and protect the rights and freedom of every individual.
Pledge to participate in and defend our democratic government and its constitution from all, domestic and foreign, who would diminish it.
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Accept that each of us has a stewardship responsibility to protect and preserve our home, this very earth, for future generations.
Believe that the happiness, health, and indeed the survival of humankind hinges on our ability to anticipate and to collectively address existential threats.
Acknowledge the innate potential and value of every individual and strive to respect their dignity.
Please give some thought to your version of our shared values.
The U.S. recently announced it is ending all funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA). Since then I have been thinking about the column “How I made it from Gaza to Duke and UNC” (July 1).
In this thoughtful piece, the author credits UNWRA as a lifesaver for him growing up in a refugee camp in Gaza. It provided him with the education that enabled him to land a Rotary Peace Fellowship. He is currently working towards a graduate degree in Global Studies and International Development at UNC and Duke.
The U.S. has been funding a third of UNWRA’s budget of $1.1 billion which provides social and medical services and education to five million Palestinian refugees. The U.S. is stopping its support, and a shortfall will result in service reduction. Schools for 526,000 Palestinian children could close.
All children have the right to education and the dignity and opportunity that come with it. Withdrawing support ratchets up the risk for recruitment by extremist groups and leads to greater destabilization in the Middle East. Moreover, this act is another example of the erosion of moral leadership and values evident in this administration.
I appreciated Orrin Pilkey’s column “As sea levels rise, NC needs to take action” (Sept. 8) on adapting to rising sea levels, one of a long list of the consequences of a warming planet. But adapting without preventing is like treating polio without polio vaccine. We must quickly curb polluting the air with CO2 from burning fossil fuels, and curb the emissions of prodigious amounts of methane from factory farming.
Global warming gas levels are now dramatically higher than they were for the entire existence of homo sapiens prior to the Industrial Revolution. We don’t have time to waste. But, simple solutions are available.
While individual actions are necessary, they are not enough. Now, only collective actions can avoid the worst consequences. Here are two. First, congressional action for a revenue neutral fee on carbon fuels which does not grow government, but is returned to citizens as monthly dividends. A bipartisan carbon fee and dividend will accelerate the transition to clean energy by encouraging innovative free market solutions.
Second, we should advocate for transition to a more healthy plant-based life style. Methane from current agricultural practices is over 80 times as powerful as CO2 in trapping heat. Altering current eating habits is perhaps the most effective near term action we can take.
Citizens Climate Lobby, Climate Advocacy Project
Protect migrant children
Regarding “US moves toward detaining migrant children longer” (Sept. 7): It is time for the U.S. government to stop persecuting and imprisoning immigrant children. What kind of a nation have we become? Immigrants are fleeing violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
It is time to welcome them and give them sanctuary here in the United States. As a nation we should be better than this. It is time to protect these children.
Gail S. Phares
Witness for Peace