Letters in the Editor's Mailbag

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), November 20, 2011 | Go to article overview

Letters in the Editor's Mailbag


Byline: The Register-Guard

Don't give up on combating evil

David Brooks' attack on our self-righteousness regarding the sex abuse allegations against Jerry Sandusky of Penn State is apt ("Many instinctively blind to Penn State horror," Nov. 17). Brooks provides a lot of sobering evidence that we would not have behaved better than Joe Paterno or Mike McQueary had we been in their shoes.

The question, Brooks says, is, "How can we ourselves overcome our natural tendency to evade and self-deceive ... it's a question this society has a hard time asking because the most seductive evasion is the one that leads us to deny the underside of our own nature."

It's an illusion to think one is morally perfect, or that one can go through some kind of born-again conversion and never sin again.

As the American liberal Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) said, we're sinners to the end. But that doesn't mean we should give up. It doesn't mean there aren't degrees of evil and we're all equally at fault. Nor does it mean we should literally apply Jesus' words, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." If we did, how would we ever be able to act?

But anyone who has lost an illusion about other human beings and retains an illusion about themselves is insufferable, as Niebuhr also said. In other words, the process of disillusionment should include yourself. Yet, in an individualistic culture enamored with self-esteem, facing "the underside of our own nature" is not likely, as Brooks says.

Sam Porter

Eugene

Boards should listen to residents

Eugene residents pride ourselves on being socially progressive and politically liberal. We are an "open" community - open to the unique perspectives and life experiences of others and open to discussions about what concerns our fellow neighbors. Our community is a colorful blend of intellectual activists, professors, enterprising business owners and health care professionals, among others.

Recently, after experiencing firsthand a process in which Eugene residents were seeking to be heard about concerns they had regarding their neighborhood, I realized an additional aspect about our community. Those who represent our community by serving on boards for the betterment of Eugene would do well to listen - to the concerns of the tax-paying residents affected by their decisions, to their differing perspectives, and above all, to themselves as they develop policies in the name of a more "compassionate" community.

The beauty of the colorful blend called Eugene is lost if gripping a particular agenda becomes more dear to us than embracing the legitimate concerns of our residents. Compassion in this case may just be one-sided.

Alison Swan

Eugene

Responsibilities come with rights

The U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights does not grant unlimited freedom to do or say anything and then cry "First Amendment." With rights come responsibilities.

The Second Amendment that writer S.A. Smith despises (letters, Nov. 16) is infringed on by laws. No one has an unfettered right to own and use a weapon any way he or she wishes; failure to comply with gun laws leads to serious consequences.

We have the right to freedom of speech, but we also have a responsibility when we speak not to slander people or cause harm. And the right to peaceful assembly does not give us the right to trample on other people's rights for weeks on end.

Tracy Fields

Springfield

Capitalism is destroying its market

The lack of focus by Occupy Wall Street protesters on policy action is a good explanation of why so many people feel the American Dream has either passed them by or is now only a hoax meant to divert their attention from a system that is broken.

The capitalist system is capable of repeatedly creating conditions that lead to widespread social unrest. …

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