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Monday Dec. 24, 2012: Religion in schools, gun precautions and Social Security

Sensitivity to differences

This week at public schools can be difficult for students whose customs do not include the observance of Christmas. While schools often attempt to ensure that their holiday programs do not include “obviously religious” elements (nativity scenes, etc.), this approach fails to recognize that Christmas is, by definition, a religious holiday. Therefore any activity that is dominated by a Christmas theme (Rudolph, Santa) may be perceived as religious by those with different customs.

Inclusion of a song or two from another culture does not negate the fact that a program has a predominantly Christmas orientation. Using the rationale that the majority of the students and parents enjoy these activities effectively silences minority students, making them feel invisible and excluded. Giving students the option of not participating also makes students feel like outsiders.

These results run counter to the common core educational goal of developing sensitivity to cultural differences.

We have wonderful and creative teachers and administrators in our secular public schools. Certainly these talented educators can develop programs that create feelings of inclusiveness and belonging within our community. I urge our educators to use the highest level of sensitivity in dealing with the events related to any religious observances, and to consider the educational goals they are trying to achieve.

Sondra Siegel


No easy answers

Is gun control the answer to all the violence facing our culture today? Will it resolve the issues that are causing people to resort to the desperate acts being inflicted on the innocent? Are we all to be held accountable for the actions of a few or do we hold accountable to ones who did nothing to stop the incident before it ever happened?

These are only a few of the questions we should be asking of ourselves and of our government instead of mindlessly reacting every time there is a crisis. Determine the undermining cause of the violence and determine a corrective action instead of the age-old crisis management technique that does not resolve problems. It only patches the symptoms. Our troubles are systemic and will take time to heal the rifts of spirit and culture.

Kathryn Cope


Gun precautions, control

This talk of gun control has me confused. I can’t see any logic in what people are saying. Taking precautions such as background checks is good, but going as far as not letting people have guns at all is foolish.

Guns are needed for protection. It’s not OK to kill people, but Adam Lanza still did it. He wasn’t concerned with the fact that he was doing something as terrible and illegal as mass murder; I get the feeling that breaking one more law, such as having an illegal weapon, would not have stopped him.

Like the saying “pencils don’t misspell words,” neither do guns kill people. People kill people and not just with guns.

We can’t outlaw knives because somebody stabs a person to death. That doesn’t make sense. Take precautions but don’t leave good people defenseless.

Evil people will find ways to do evil things. We must be trained and have the tools to defend against those things.

Rachel Ouellette


Seniors to pay again?

It was reported that President Barack Obama is considering cutting cost-of-living raises for senior citizens on Social Security as a way to compromise with Republican representatives.

One has to remember that numerous past presidents balanced their budgets by making line transfers from the Social Security account to other lines in their budgets with the promise to return the money with interest. This never happened.

Then, to stimulate the economy, payroll tax cuts were given to working Americans while seniors got a one-time small extra check, thus, in effect leaving seniors out of the equation.

As the economy improves, those on a fixed income such as seniors on Social Security will be at a greater disadvantage. How in good conscience can anyone suggest cutting cost-of-living adjustments for seniors who rely upon limited incomes for food, housing, heat and medications?

Where is there any social justice in this suggestion? I have started a petition to the president at the White House site (you must register with the White House to sign it) at http://wh.gov/nO8Z and urge all those concerned to sign it, to call their senators and representatives saying that sacrificing those who made our country great cannot be forgotten nor discarded as expendable.

David Berg


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