Protest and Counter-Protest

Friday, March 23, 2007

I joined the march on the Pentagon on Saturday to demonstrate my opposition to the president on Iraq and was struck by the anger of the counter-protesters ["4 Years After Start of War, Anger Reigns," front page, March 18].

As a religious liberal, I believe that actions matter. We in opposition to President Bush stood to be counted, as did those in opposition to us; these were equally valid statements of conscience. Indeed, the presence of both sides is manifestation not just of human spirit in the moment but of our deepest spirituality. Something common to us all moved us to be there.

What I don't understand -- and I don't understand this generally about divisions in the world today -- is the hostility and lack of respect for the dignity and humanity of the opposite side. From what I could see, the vast majority of the name-calling, obscenities and threats came from the counter-protesters. But the war protesters were not pure, either.

Mahatma Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." I believe that most people want peace, that no one wants to live in fear, and that everyone wants to live in a world where we are building toward cooperation, justice and a sense of loving community.

If that is so, what in our spirits causes us to fail so often?

MARK BURTON

Damascus


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