MTA's Romare Bearden
Editor: I enjoyed Garland Thompson's Opinion * Commentary page review of "Romare Bearden: His Life and Art." Mr. Bearden was truly one of America's great artists who touched many people.
Bearden left his mark on Baltimore in many ways, but perhaps one of the finest, albeit lesser-known, is his magnificent mosaic mural on the mezzanine of the Upton Metro station. Its jazz theme pays tribute to the people and the vibrant music that 50 years ago was a tradition of Pennsylvania Avenue.
If you haven't seen this work, I urge you to do so. Next time you're riding the Metro, get off the train at Upton and take the time until the next train comes to view this masterpiece on the mezzanine. You can even see it without paying another fare.
Ronald J. Hartman.
The writer is general manager of the Metro. Editor: I've noticed a curious governmental custom. The city closes school only one day for national heroes George Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, but school is closed for more than a week for Santa Claus.
Is the government teaching children that Santa deserves more honor than George Washington, the veterans, or others honored just one day? Christmas is one day. Why close school for a whole week? What a waste of taxpayers money.
Marian S. Tutt
Editor: To paraphrase Jean-Paul Sartre, the late, great French existentialist, it is an inescapable truth that we, as thinking beings, are condemned to choose, whether we will it or not.
Since abstaining from choosing is always a choice in itself, are not we better off taking a stand for something we believe in, unpopular it may be? This is every human being's anguish and dilemma in the face of a seemingly unyielding and complex world in which a multitude of decisions must be made daily.
The article by Robert Lee entitled "Choices" in Opinion * Commentary of The Sun Dec. 5, fully and dramatically illustrated this anguish and dilemma. The Lees were confronted with the agonizing decision of whether or not to abort their unborn child whom, a genetic test predicted, had a 90 percent chance of developing the always fatal Huntington's disease by his or her 40 birthday.
The article so moved and disturbed me that I informally polled a few of my colleagues at work as to what they would have done had they been the ones involved. Many applauded the Lees' choice (not to abort) while almost as many were unsure.
A few did opt for abortion because, as in one woman's rhetorical question, "Who are we to choose (a life of misery) for this poor child?" While I think that sometimes there are good reasons for choosing abortion, I do not think that the one implied in the preceding rhetorical question is one of them.
Whether we choose for or against abortion, we are making a choice for the unborn infants. In life, we always choose . . . one way or the other. C'est la condition humaine.
Dikoma C. Shungu.
Editor: Regarding your editorial cartoon Dec. 14: I am a volunteer in the Presidential Inquires Office in the White House, and I spend my time answering the phone for the White House comments line! The people who perform this very important service for the president, are all live human beings, and we do not use an automated answering service. I've received calls from Australia, Alaska, Canada and all the states. Each caller is treated courteously, and we listen! A daily tally sheet is made of all calls pro and con -- about any issue the public calls in on. This is information the president sees -- and uses.
All our people are trained volunteers operating under some very competent staff people. Each call is handled on a very personal level, because this president wants to know what the people think. No robots allowed in this very important office.
Hugh M. Roper.
Editor: It is sad to read that because of an estimated $200 million budget deficit, Gov. William Donald Schaefer initially proposed and then reversed cuts in programs for the poor including paying for prescription drugs, home health services for the disabled and others.
This continues a pattern of short-changing the needy. An example is the Women Infants and Children Supplemental Feeding Program (WIC) in which each prenatal dollar spent by WIC saves three dollars in health care costs during the first year of life. Because of a lack of state commitment, Maryland was unable to use $40,000 in federal WIC food dollars in fiscal 1989.
Meanwhile the governor is spending $444,000 in salaries for a 10-person press staff, the second largest press office in the country with the second highest payroll. He is outstripped only by Gov. Mario Cuomo of New York who has a 12-person staff for a much larger state. Would the governor please consider saving money with a three-person press office?
Editor: When men and women were sworn into the armed services and became defenders of our country, did they ever imagine there would come a day when they had to possibly face a real war? Unfortunately, it seems that the crisis in the Middle East could possibly end up in a war zone.
As members of society we are bystanders who have no say in the matter as to whether we should go to war. It's not a decision to be made by you and me. Although, I don't think I'd want the burden of that decision.
Each of us should be proud and supportive of our Americans in the Middle East. When it comes right down to it they are there for us -- you and me.
We all pray that peace can be made to resolve the differences between nations. But in the meantime we can keep these men and women in our hearts and say some prayers so they might soon return home to their loved ones. Whatever the outcome of all of this, let us always see our men and women as winners in our eyes.
Editor: Recently, you had front page articles about the despair of those locked into a life of poverty, and the despair of those trying to help.
"Compassion fatigue," as Ellen Uzelac described it in her article, is an appropriate term. Sure, we have wasted lots of money on bombs we hope never get dropped and on supposedly amphibious tanks that sink. And we will waste a lot more covering the risk-free gambling debts of savings-and-loan crooks.
These are what liberals cite when anyone suggests cutting social spending. The fact is, we have also wasted tons of money fighting poverty these past 30 years.
Wasted? We seem to have a lot more poor people today -- maybe two or three times -- than we had when we started spending money on them. There is no getting around the evidence that we spent a lot of money and managed to make the situation worse.
Liberals say we have to do it again, but do it right this time. We tried to do it right the first time, and failed. Why should anyone believe we will do it better this time?
For instance, a recent front page article proclaimed that the mid-rise, modest-income housing plan proposed by the Baltimore City housing committee offers families a hope of getting out of the projects and building new lives on a new foundation.
I'm sure the same promises were made, and believed, when ground was broken for these same housing projects 30 years ago.
Much of our present day "compassion fatigue" can be traced to the unfulfilled promises that have proven to be a foundation only for government bureaucracies that persist in claiming to be the answer when they are much of the problem.
Doug Struck's article on "the working poor" keyed on the lack of hope for people who work all day and barely keep their heads above water. The implication was that everyone in this country should be able to get ahead by working hard.
The only sure way to get ahead is to gain an education. Many people Mr. Struck interviewed bemoan their admittedly sad plight.
But I didn't hear one mother or father say, "All I want is to keep things together long enough to make sure my children get a good education so they won't have to work at the dead-end jobs that I am locked in to."
Instead of giving into the fatigue, we should continue to do everything we can to solve poverty. But our money and best intentions pale in comparison to the long-term good that can be accomplished when those who are unfortunate enough to be mired in poverty at least prepare their children for the future they would like to have had for themselves.
That so many simply produce another generation of hopelessness is the greatest tragedy of this social malaise.