Neocons responsible for disastrous war

As a Vietnam Veteran, I take pause to reflect on the disaster that the Bush administration is. The United States was capable of beating enemies on two fronts during World War II in less time than it has taken these neocons to completely ruin our economy, kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, kill nearly 4,000 Americans, wound thousands more, and turn our country's reputation as a shining beacon of liberty into a nation of torturers.

I recently read a good definition of a neocon: 'an evil person who is trying to overcome a mediocre life by preaching hate and intolerance disguised under the name of Jesus Christ.'

Mike Mattingly


More sensitivity needed to Christianity

With the majority of the residents of the East County of at least a nominal Christian persuasion, it seems at the least disrespectful of The Outlook to include under your 'Spiritual Living' section, an article about a woman who thinks that 'God is bigger than the God of Christianity' on Easter weekend. It's akin to publishing an antiwar article on Veteran's Day.

In regards to the issue of the woman's aversion to guilt, I find the story Jesus told about two people who prayed to be insightful. One person considered the scum of his day, approached God in abject sorrow for his sin saying, 'God be merciful to me a sinner.' The other was a religious person who made sure he had all his i's dotted and t's crossed. In his approach to God, it was all about him. All the religious guy had to say was. 'I'm a wonderful guy, and I'm so thankful I'm not like that other guy, a sinner.' Jesus said that the man who approached God admitting his need for forgiveness was the one who received forgiveness.

Guilt says, 'I made a mistake.' Shame says, 'I am a mistake.' In reference to The Outlook's mistake, 'I forgive you' … It would be nice if your cultural sensitivity would extend to those who have faith in Jesus Christ.

Candace Brower


Leaders need to find a way out of war, responsibly

The Outlook editorial in the March 19 issue has properly discussed the serious, sometimes enormous losses incurred by a very small fraction of our citizens, and the further economic and associated problems the Iraq war has helped bring about as they threaten the future of our nation.

But in fact, most of us are feeling very few and relatively minor actual present effects, shown in part by our major concern over gas prices. We need to include in our concerns the millions of Iraqis suffering badly, with probably at least several hundred thousand deaths (or nearly 700,000, depending on which sources you accept) and with many more injuries and major infrastructure and cultural disruptions and displacements, apparently affecting a very large portion of the population. These would be unthinkable were they scaled proportionately over our own population.

Whether the war was (is) a good idea or not, we are largely responsible for this devastating situation, and we need to try to overcome our self indulgence and recognize that our typical quietly defensive attitudes influence the rest of the world's view of us as insular and irresponsible. We are better than this.

We ought to carefully consider what is implied by these attitudes toward us, and our associated disgraceful de-emphasizing of the losses to so many (often innocent) Iraqis as we ponder our own difficulties.

This is not to ignore great suffering by some Americans, and seemingly intractable problems here at home, but these (so far) seriously impact only a small minority of our citizens, though it includes those who have paid a great price in the war. A trip to any mall will demonstrate that consumerism remains high, that we are grossly overweight, and we have many fine vehicles to transport us at our whim, all this while taking on large personal and enormous national debt.

Most of us are among the most privileged people on Earth, in fact the most privileged ever, so we can well afford to overcome our primitive attitudes shared with all humans, and think more generously of others, and particularly of those whose fortunes have turned to such a degree on our actions.

Yet little is being asked of most of us, with our politicians apparently needing to pander to us to attract sufficient attention and votes to have any hope of being elected and in positions to help us extract ourselves from our largely self inflicted difficulties.

What can be done? Any leader or prospective leader who gives too clear an explanation ought to be carefully scrutinized. None seems to have a comprehensive and realistic plan, probably because none is reasonably possible. What we need are leaders who will speak truthfully, not withholding unpleasant information, and without dismissing our obligations, while showing enough courage and thoughtfulness to be able to eventually and ultimately lead us and our descendants out of these quagmires and into the coming decades. But our leaders also must not dismiss or ignore our responsibilities to others. The Outlook and other media likewise need to accept their exceptional opportunities and responsibilities in this process.

Before these comments are dismissed as the harangues of an old codger (which they are) consider whether they may have at least some merit. While those expressing the concerns I have shared receive little positive and some negative reaction, I do try to stay socially, intellectually, and politically engaged, reading and listening to both the right and the left, so something of what I'm proposing may just be worth considering.

Dick McQueen


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