Publication:Johnson City Press; Date:Nov 9, 2007; Section:Opinion; Page Number:6A

March and rally was not about ‘peace’ but becoming active

    Wendy Gilliland’s Sept. 25 letter about the “Power of Peace” resonated, partially, with me. I am one of the people who began Concerned Tennessee Citizens, the organization that helped organize the march and rally she referred to. It was not a “peace protest,” whatever that phrase might mean. The three invited speakers did not advocate “peace.” They advocated action.

    The goal of the event was not to foster interpersonal “peace,” but to get people agitated and brave enough to act their conscience. The call to action was not for a generic “peace,” but for a specific end to a naked and deceitful act of aggression by our government against 25 million people on the other side of the world.

    I can only guess at what saddens Gilliland about the political act of protesting injustice and abuse. She says it is divisive. I suppose so. So would be standing up out of a crowd of people watching in horror as someone is abused by a thug. When one acts, they separate themselves from those who don’t.

    The world is not a peaceful place and I doubt it ever will be, but it’s not hard to point to advances in our history that made a better life for great numbers of people: The endings of slavery, child labor and the carpet-bombing of Indochina are a few.

    Deciding what to do as a citizen in the face of government violence is to me difficult, but I don’t think one can “promote” an end to this war. You have to act. MICHAEL GARRETT

Johnson City

Active nonviolence

    I appreciate Wendy Gilliland’s letter regarding a recent rally against the Iraq War. I spoke at the rally. I would say that cultivating inner peace and advocating for justice are sisters.

    While individuals may gravitate to one method or another, we need both. The rally was a call out of complacency and a call to action. Without justice, there is no peace.

    My congregation, the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, will be hosting a 16-hour workshop titled “Creating a Culture of Peace.”

    This is a program on the spirituality and practice of active nonviolence that helps us discover our own power for change and that teaches peacemaking skills and principles.

    This training is for schools, civic organizations, veterans, congregations, yoga centers and for anyone interested in replacing violence with peace.

    The workshop will be held Feb. 29-March 2. See the congregation’s Web site for more information


Johnson City

Realizing mistake

    I would like to comment on the letter to the editor some months back on drinking and driving.

    It’s not often that one gets a chance to realize one’s mistakes without first having to face dire circumstances. It’s refreshing to see that someone actually had a wake-up call without bringing someone down with them.

    But it’s even more refreshing to know that they realized the gift that was bestowed upon them and took advantage of it. MARGARET RAMBO


Guns on campus

    Designating “gun-free zones” never kept anyone from carrying a gun there. Honest permit holders don’t, because they are honest. Criminals can and will because they ignore rules and laws.

    As evidence, I submit the shooting at Virginia Tech University, a certified gun-free zone. Our leadership and emotionally driven citizenry continue to cling to the idea that if they say, “don’t do this,” that “it” won’t be done. It never worked before, it won’t work in the future.

    On Jan. 16, 2002, Peter Odighizuwa went on a rampage at the Appalachian School of Law, shooting and killing faculty and students. It was quickly forgotten that he was stopped by other students who had guns in their cars. The shooter immediately surrendered upon being confronted by the armed students.

    Who would have been saved had those students been wearing their guns rather than having to take time to retrieve them from their vehicles?

    Why continue to fear law abiding, trained gun owners, when they are the ones who take responsibility for their own safety and are willing to face those who would harm them?

    I challenge everyone with an anti-gun bias on this matter to abandon their emotional approach, side-step your fears and study the facts. It’s not enough to read what others write about this. Do the research.

    After digesting statistics from non-partisan sources see if you still feel that guns are dangerous, even in the hands of the honest citizens approved by the criminal justice system to carry weapons. Get to Googling. There’s a lot of material out there.


Johnson City