Let Israel and Syria both leave LebanonAn...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Let Israel and Syria both leave Lebanon

An April 24 letter implies that the United States and Israel are responsible for the recent tragic events in Lebanon.

However, the solution presented, "forcing" both Syria and Israel out of Lebanon, is exactly what Israel has been proposing for years.

Repeatedly, Israel has stated that when Syria withdraws its 35,000 troops from Lebanon and permits the Lebanese army to patrol southern Lebanon and effectively restrain the Hezbollah from firing rockets on the civilian population in northern Israel, Israel would be glad to withdraw across its international border with Lebanon.

It is Syria that refused to relinquish its virtual, absolute control over Lebanon.

Once Syria withdraws its troops from Lebanon, a peace treaty between Israel and Lebanon could be negotiated without delay.

Bernard Siegel

Baltimore

Sealed records deter parents

We were back in Maryland recently to visit family and our newborn grandchild. While there, we started looking with our daughter around St. Mary's County for infant care, because she will be going back to work at the end of May.

We were shocked to discover that parents cannot access complaints filed against child-care providers. This applies both to care centers and home care. The rationale behind this misguided piece of legislation seems to be that parents may not be able to properly evaluate complaints.

Admittedly, this could happen. But what seems more important is that parents are denied the opportunity to see and evaluate official reports and may unwittingly use a provider who has a history of problems, thus putting their children at risk unnecessarily.

Care of children is the most important job in our society. Most providers are in their profession not only to make a living but because they love children and get fulfillment from nurturing them and seeing them grow under their care. Parents have a right to identify the few who are problem providers.

A coalition of child care providers no doubt helped put pressure on the Maryland legislature to pass this legislation. We hope that parents will coalesce to see that it is rescinded.

%Brenda and David Ericsson

Tucson, Ariz.

Arguments about gay marriages

I expected Peter Jay to supply some spirited arguments to explain his opposition to gay marriages, especially after he admits that "traditionalists had better be prepared to rebut" those advocating same-sex unions, but I found nothing in his article that resembled an argument, not even a shadow of an argument.

His position seems to be that, since the acceptance of gay marriages "simply isn't going to happen," it shouldn't happen. But that's no argument at all. It's at best a self-fulfilling prophecy.

He has fallen into the logical trap a first-year philosophy student learns to avoid -- confusing what is the cause with what should be the case.

Moreover, how can he be so certain that gay relationships won't ultimately find acceptance? Twenty years ago, I never would have guessed The Sun would be publishing articles about the possibility of same-sex marriages.

In his last sentence, Peter Jay asserts that gay marriage would "trivialize" the institution of marriage. How would it trivialize marriage any more than those heterosexuals who have turned marriage into the revolving door of divorce and a billion-dollar industry with drive-in wedding chapels and ministers in Elvis costumes?

It seems to me that gay men and lesbians who have struggled to gain social acceptance for their committed relations, against the formidable opposition of society, rather than trivializing marriage have reminded us how heroic a struggle it is to bring two lives together.

Peter Jay had better do a little more thinking and soul-searching before he puts into print what are little more than his prejudices dressed up in fancy metaphors.

David Bergman

Baltimore

Let's get tough on causes of crime

Sen. Robert Dole in attempting to attack Bill Clinton for choosing liberal nominees for federal judgeships leaves himself open for the obvious criticism which arises out of 12 years of Reagan-Bush conservative appointees.

During the conservative presidencies, with the emphasis on zero tolerance and harsher sentencing, the incidence of violent crime steadily increased.

During the Clinton years, with the "liberal" judgeships, violent crime is decreasing.

Perhaps it would help if we redefined "tough on crime" to reflect the biblical imperative, "Hate the sin but love the sinner."

Those who commit crimes of all kinds are human beings with the same needs and desires as those who do not.

What primarily distinguishes one from the other is the belief in possibilities and the perception that the lawful choices open to them will allow them to achieve equity in accessing the resources of the greater society.

Focusing on correcting the root causes of criminal activity will reduce the impetus to choose behavior that is negatively sanctioned and reinforce the choice of positively sanctioned behavior.

M. Angela Callahan

Baltimore

Baby Bells may return to roost

I wonder which of the merged Baby Bells will end up merging with AT&T;, the parent of them all?

Francis J. Gorman

Baltimore

President must be 'moral' leader, too

I read with interest your editorial on Holy Saturday regarding President Clinton's quandary over vetoing the partial-birth abortion bill (April 6, "Legislating medical practice"), a measure embraced by the Catholic Church and passed Congress, and potentially supported by a majority of Americans.

You raised two points: the precedent of "legislating medical practice" and the potential political fallout of a veto.

To the first point, a substantial portion of the medical profession strongly feels that the partial-birth abortion technique deserves the description of "medical practice" to approximately the same extent as euthanasia practices do.

Although many would like to forget, it should be remembered that the Hippocratic Oath specifically prohibits both abortion and euthanasia from medical practice. Have our medical ethics changed that much?

To the second point, a president is traditionally viewed by the American people not only as a political leader, but as a moral/ethical leader as well. For this reason, I would hope that when the president "prayed and wrestled with the issue" that he prayed for guidance to be led to more than just the most advantageous political stand. If not, then it may well be the presidency, not the president, that stands to lose most from the "right" political decision on partial-birth abortions.

'Andrew P. Harris, M.D.

Cockeysville

Death concept needs to be re-evaluated

In a certain episode of "M*A*S*H," we see Alan Alda as Hawkeye Pierce trying to resuscitate an apparently dead patient, exhorting, "Live, damn you! . . . Don't let the bastard win!" An observer asks Harry Morgan as Colonel Potter to whom Hawkeye is referring to as "the bastard."

"Death," replies Colonel Potter. "When it comes to death, Pierce is a sore loser."

Hawkeye Pierce, though fictional, illustrates a long-held notion about death. In light of the desire of many patients to take advantage of physician-assisted suicide, it may be time for our society to re-evaluate our attitude toward the inevitable.

For centuries, Western society has considered death the ultimate evil.

Steeped in this tradition and firmly grounded in an education that relies heavily on what can be sensed scientifically with the five human senses, physicians have long considered the death of a patient to be a mistake, an anomaly, accident or failure on their part. Death is to be avoided at all costs.

Yet doctors do not save lives, contrary to popular sentiment. We hope their aid can prolong earthly life, but they can't put it off forever. Nor should they.

Whether one believes that death is genetically programmed or part of the Creator's grand plan, all creatures die eventually. One may even say that death comes as a result of having lived.

The time has come for the institution of medicine to incorporate death into its understanding of life as a natural stage in the life process. Once that is accepted and incorporated into our life metaphors, we may arrive at more beneficial conclusions about issues such as physician-assisted suicide.

Beth Wodell

Baltimore

Ignition fires relatively rare

I do not speak for Ford Motor Co., nor am I defending the fact that the company delayed a recall on ignition switches. I just think the publicity and alarm are a little overblown.

I worked as an automobile technician for 22 years and two of my specialties were electronics and restoring vehicles that had caught on fire. I did repair four ignition switch fires, two Escorts and two F-series pick-ups.

The problem with the ignition switches is that the electrical contacts come loose from the mechanical portion. This allows the contact to arc, causing a fire.

Automobiles are complicated pieces of equipment with a lot of sub-systems, any of which can cause fires. From my experience the major causes of fires in order of frequency were:

Fuel leads (this was reduced after Ford stopped using rubber hoses in carburetors); engine oil and power steering fluid leads on a hot exhaust manifold; other electrical fires (wiring, alternators, etc.); ignition switches and anti-freeze (yes, it burns) on a hot exhaust manifold.

I don't think the ignition switch problem warrants being terrified to drive the car. In the big scheme of things, I'm sure you have a greater chance of being injured in a traffic accident, and you probably have a greater chance of being mugged on the street than having your ignition switch catch on fire.

Jeff Thorssel

Towson

James Rouse's living lessons

Many have heard the "starfish" story. It's about a man who walks along an expansive beach littered with thousands of starfish that have been washed up in a storm and are lying in the sand, stranded and dying.

Slowly, one by one, the man picks up starfish and throws them back into the sea. Seeing this, a cynical passer-by asks the man, "Why are you wasting your time doing this? There are thousands of starfish on this beach. You'll only get to a few. You can't possibly make a difference."

The man on the beach smiles as he picks up another starfish and throws it into the sea. "I made a difference to that one," the man says.

The starfish thrower of the story is fictional. Jim Rouse, who died April 9 at 81, was the real thing. To the people of the Baltimore region, he was our own personal starfish thrower.

At the Greater Baltimore Committee, which Mr. Rouse and a handful of Baltimore businessmen founded in 1955 and later chaired, he taught the business community how to put vision to work -- making a difference, one project at a time. Mr. Rouse's city projects, such as Charles Center, Cross Keys and Harborplace, are just a few of his well-known, enduring monuments.

Though the GBC has grown from a handful to more than 600 member businesses in Baltimore and its five surrounding counties, the memory of Jim Rouse and his influence on our organization remains very personal.

As a teacher and mentor, Mr. Rouse's lesson plan for making a difference was as profound as it was simple. Its value is universal.

Dream big dreams. Muster support. Plan boldly. Act decisively. Remain tenacious.

Mr. Rouse's test for the value of a project was also strikingly simple: Will it greatly benefit people -- all of the people -- in a community or region? As a businessman, Mr. Rouse also knew that, for something to work, the economics had to be there.

He was not a Pollyanna. He taught us that the power of positive thinking must be well matched with the power of positive doing.

Because Jim Rouse taught us, we in the Baltimore region know that "we can make a difference to this one."

William L. Jews

Baltimore

The writer, president and CEO of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Maryland, is the GBC chairman.

Pub Date: 5/04/96

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