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Beyond sympathyHow many more innocent men, women...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Beyond sympathy

How many more innocent men, women and children have to be terrorized, tortured and killed before we or any other country intervene in Bosnia?

As an American Jew, I've always been "Nazi-phobic," knowing that the unthinkable could happen again.

This time it is Catholics and Muslims that are the victims of "ethnic cleansing" as the rest of the world passively looks on.

The U.S. must respond beyond sympathy. Through non-involvement, we are showing that no one cares, and the genocide will ultimately continue.

Carol Madow

Owings Mills

Both parties are moving to the right

After observing both national political conventions it looks as though each party has moved to the right. The Democrats are attempting to become centrist and mainstream, while the Republicans are drawn to the intolerant values of Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Phyllis Schlafly.

It's difficult to discern the real issues through the rhetoric, double-talk and sleaze, and it promises to get worse. George Bush says the issue is trust, and he hopes this will play on the fears of the electorate. But who is it who promised to be the environmental, the education and the no-new-taxes president -- and then broke his word?

Most Americans want accountability and effective government instead of finger-pointing and whining about the other branch of government.

If Bill Clinton's promise of change is to succeed, he needs to convince us that he and Congress can cooperate instead of castigate and show leadership and tangible results. If elected and these commitments aren't kept, both he and they will be thrown out of office.

Sixty-eight-year old George Bush, on the other hand, is a lame duck president who has been in office as vice president and president for 12 years.

If he's re-elected, Mr. Bush will be immune to most political pressures, for better or worse, and will be free to spend his last term doing what he wants. Based on the record, this would be a reactive administration that seeks its approval from foreign affairs.

There does seem to be a clear contrast in priorities. Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore hammer at the need to improve the economy. Mr. Bush and Mr. Quayle are relentless about the importance of family values. Though most of us understand economic growth, it is difficult to grasp family values.

Even more perplexing is the insinuation that there is a dangerous, but ill-defined, movement that is out to destroy apple pie, motherhood and the American flag. This is a cynical straw man, an "us versus them" assault on the American tradition of pluralism, diversity and e pluribus unum.

Roger C. Kostmayer

Baltimore

No more 'Toy Run'

I read with great disappointment that the annual "Toy Run" drive that collects toys, food and cash donations for the Salvation Army through motorcyclists was being canceled this year.

This event has grown steadily since its inception, to last year's estimated crowd of 80,000 people.

The Baltimore "Toy Run" was one of largest events of this type anywhere and something we should be very proud of. I attended this event several times and looked forward to it each year.

Bruce Nagel

Baltimore

Exporting jobs

Thank you for running the piece by Marjorie Hope and James Young Aug. 20 about the dangers inherent in the North American Free Trade Act.

U.S. corporations have already sent hundreds of thousands of jobs south (while pushing us to "buy American"). How can this agreement, without safeguards for workers and the environment, fail to accelerate the lowering of our standard of living?

The agreement not only exports more manufacturing jobs, but it exploits the dire situation of so many Mexican people who are willing to work for $1 an hour. You can be sure, Mexico and Central America are places as dangerous for union organizers as they are for journalists.

In my more paranoid moments, I imagine this is a way for our corporate-run government to make U.S. workers as desperate as Mexican and Central American workers. After all, we're headed in that direction already.

Keith Matis

Baltimore

How one volunteer learned a lesson in pride

Recently I volunteered in a soup kitchen because I felt inspired to do more than donate the usual cans of food around the holidays.

Donating always satisfied my need to help my fellow man whilremaining "detached" from the cause. What difference could helping in a soup kitchen really make?

I'm not sure what I expected, but this is what I found.

The "guests," as they were called, had no expensive clothes, no cars, no homes, not even food -- but they had their pride and were treated with respect.

They stood in a long line, waited to be seated, waited to b served and rushed through their meal so that others could be fed. They were very polite and pleasant to their neighbors, as well as to the volunteers.

I noticed a gentleman wearing a heavy winter coat. My first thought was, "It's August. Why are you wearing a coat?" The answer became clear as other guests were seated, each with their belongings on their backs. Entire families entered and were placed in the "family section," which, we were told, has become more filled daily. Small treats were given to the children and milk, if it was available.

What food the guests could refrain from eating, they carefully placed in little plastic bags and cherished like gold. The guests were obviously thankful for the food and the hospitality. One special person even thanked me for giving my time. Imagine someone with life-threatening problems thinking about my time.

The volunteers were told that at the end of the month, stress is at its highest, due to funds running out. Stress and pain could be seen on the guests' faces, but their appreciation came through loud and clear. The guests left the soup kitchen with a little plastic bag and their dignity -- but without hunger.

I left the soup kitchen with a hunger I've never felt before, and a new understanding of the word "pride."

Beverly Rochford

Glen Burnie

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