Letters to the editor

Intelligent voting made easy

Thank you so much for your special election supplement [Sept. 29] and the article, “In their own words.”

As important as I feel local-level elections to be, I have never felt “qualified” to vote on anything other than presidential elections. You put it all together in black and white, and made it easy for me to make intelligent choices and vote.

I hope that you will continue in this practice, as well as [publish] your other news and columns aimed at citizen awareness — and that other erstwhile inactive citizens will also be encouraged to take action.

Papers like the Xpress help us to grow into the good neighbors and great country we can be.

— L. M. Dallen
Asheville

The dangers of Sellers’ marijuana position

[Asheville] City Council member Tommy Sellers is proud of the fact that he walked out on his town’s citizens last year, just because he didn’t like what they had to say. He feels he has a right to be prejudiced against all marijuana advocates, just because the “fella” who shot his brother smoked a little herb.

This kind of thinking is dangerous. Replace that pot-smoker with, say, a black or Hispanic person. Would that give Mr. Sellers the right to hate all blacks or Hispanics? Yet, it is that type of closed-mindedness that leads to all types of unnecessary discrimination.

Also, marijuana does not make you violent. Quite the opposite. Isn’t it possible that the person who shot Mr. Sellers’ brother was also drinking, or perhaps using cocaine? And what did Mr. Sellers’ brother do to provoke this “fella”? If he’s going to bring it up, then let’s hear the whole story.

Finally, Mr. Sellers feels that legalizing marijuana “is like saying we’ll burn the American flag.” But the truth is, they should have burned the American flag when they made marijuana illegal — and took away our freedom of choice.

— Samantha Goodal
Barnardsville

People huggers

Sharon Martin’s letter [Sept. 22] on the loggers’ protest against the Wildlands Project was eloquent and resourceful. We should stop killing species and forests. However, her conclusion that loggers should simply find other jobs, and that “the ways we can make money are as infinite as the stars and planets in the cosmos,” is far too cavalier. It is the error many environmentalists make about labor’s plight.

Such thinking may prevent our saving the earth. The reason is that the logical allies of environmentalists are blue-collar workers, like the loggers. Blue-collar workers are well aware of environmental destruction, since most urban developments target [working-class] green spaces and communities because these people have little political influence. Most are so abused on the job that they have no spirit left for political fights. Their lives usually consist of choosing between two terrible options. On the one hand, they can work on body- and soul-destroying logging or assembly-line jobs. In exchange, they receive a moderately middle-class, relatively secure wage. On the other hand, they can opt for low-paying, but relatively humane service-sector jobs, and fall into the precarious existence of the working poor.

My suspicion is that Ms. Martin is like many environmentalists. They have an educational background that allows them to land humane, politically correct jobs. Or they have substantial family or community resources, or no dependents. This frees them to work in service-sector jobs and still live decently and securely.

For true environmentalism to emerge from its minority position, we must free blue-collar workers from their soul-killing grind and economic insecurity. This can be accomplished by aggressive sharing. Such sharing will allow America’s economic safety nets to become solid and generous, like those in most of Europe. [If we do this,] blue-collar Americans will no longer have to make decisions out of economic desperation. They will then be able to take their inhumane and ecologically abusive job and shove it. And most will.

Ms. Martin’s Earth First! philosophy promotes environmental direct actions. These heroic actions have stopped some human- and animal-habitat destruction, and are perhaps all that can be done. In the end, however, they will inevitably fail. For as it’s now arranged, our economy is an absolutely relentless and unstoppable growth juggernaut and forest destroyer.

On the other hand, a people-first economy, in which loggers and other blue-collar workers can safely quit earth-shattering jobs, will allow all people to be healthy and secure enough to care about the earth. The majority — created by the resulting labor and environmental alliance — will quickly change the insane goals of our economy, and save earth for humans and animals. If we put people first, we are really putting earth first.

— Bill Branyon
Asheville

Holy therapy

I see around me, in this growing branch of “in-your-face-soldiers-at-war” Christianity, such mean-spiritedness, blatant hate, narrow-mindedness, exclusivity, bigotry, sexism and the self-righteous assertion that they are God’s preferred people and have all the answers to the most complex mysteries of the universe, life and the hereafter.

It hurts me deep into the marrow of my bones that these ideas are being taught in the name of Jesus. This branch of Christianity has turned Jesus into a corporation and a marketing tool for profit, ego, personal and political gain, power, control and greed. The investment in being right has become their corporate creed and mission-statement mantra — and nothing matters except demolishing what they have decided is wrong.

I believe that Sunday morning is becoming the most prejudiced, hateful and violent time of the week in America.

I believe this branch of Christianity is one of the most formidable perils facing the human race today. Their belief that there is one word, one truth, one path to the light, makes it so easy for them to destroy ideas, institutions, cultures, nations and human beings. It can all be done so sanctimoniously, with the Seal of Approval from Jesus.

God created this world of diversity so that we could learn to walk among each other as peacemakers, with respect, tolerance, empathy, compassion and understanding, and find the common ground of love and acceptance in our hearts, which is the living Jesus.

God sent Jesus to the world to show us, by example, that love is not a word or an emotion or a dogma — love is a verb, love is action, love is complete giving and generosity of spirit, love is all-embracing and nonjudgmental.

Jesus’ message of unconditional love, kindness, simplicity, inclusivity, expansiveness, humbleness, mercy and benevolent service to all our brothers and sisters is being lost. In this branch of Christianity, I am witnessing a dangerous distorting and twisting of this message. The proclamation and directive in this branch of Christianity seems to be that God made an enormous mistake when he created diversity, and that, in Jesus’ name, war must be declared on whatever and whoever has been decided are God’s mistakes. …

My continued challenge to myself, and to all of you who claim to be followers of Jesus, the message of Jesus is to expand your mind and, as Jesus did, stretch out of your comfort zone. Study Jesus’ life and the history of his time, study theology, study world history, study other religions and cultures and sacred texts, take an ethics class, study the great philosophers, make friends with people of all faiths and learn about their traditions, ask questions, examine the incongruencies of what you are being told, and use your intellect and your intuition to feel the loving way — the true way of Jesus. The more we know, the easier it will be to discern whether we are being taught fear, hate and exclusion, or being taught trust, love and inclusion for all of God’s people.

My wish for the millennium is that this quote, from one of the wisest spiritual leaders of our century, permeate our souls, hearts and minds, and become a part of our human matrix:

“Our home is heaven where God is. On earth we learn how to discover home, and each faith leads its adherents homeward. We must learn here how to live together with those with whom we will spend eternity. How can we arrogantly claim that ours is the only way, and not learn to remove our shoes as we stand on what others consider to be holy ground, where they catch their glimpse of the Eternal, the Inscrutable, the Holy, the Compassionate, the Gracious One?”

— The Most Reverend Desmond M. Tutu

— Debra A. Taylor
Hendersonville

Pack Place needs our attention

Perhaps, we may now view the sign as a signal that we have not been paying enough attention to our museums and theaters. Let us join together to support the arts. Perhaps then there will be no more need for the glaring electric sign in the middle of Pack Place.

— Elizabeth Eames
Weaverville

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