'Fraternity' Lost in US Politics

The opinion-page column "Running to Lose," Aug. 7, accurately describes the split dividing Republicans and Democrats.The two trudge along like a pair of drunken partisans on the eve of the French Revolution. One lifts the Tricolor and voices the cry "Liberty!" The other cries "Equality! just as the two trip over each other's feet and fall face down in the mud. The cry "Fraternity!" is lost in the mire. "Fraternity the notion that we are all in this together, that we are brothers and sisters no matter what the differences in our circumstances - is an idea increasingly foreign to both parties. Republicans skillfully manipulate the fears of white Americans in an effort to divide them from black Americans, while Democrats have nothing to say to the entrepreneurs, investors, and employers who, by the risks they take, provide employment and growth. Yet fraternity is needed to address the scourges of racism and poverty. Racism can be eliminated only when replaced with trust, respect, and mutual goodwill. Poverty can be eliminated only by opportunity and real growth. We must insist that our political parties rise above appeals to race and class and begin to speak to our shared destiny. Charles Cree, St. Paul, Minn.

This column regarding potential aspirants for the forthcoming presidential election gives me much enlightenment. The last line, "Worse than losing would be to sleep as history passes by," brings to mind a verse by John Greenleaf Whittier: "Better with naked nerve to bear/ The needles of this goading air,/ Than, in the lap of sensual ease, forego/ The Godlike power to do, the Godlike aim to know." Abe Kreutzer, Stroudsburg, Pa.

Conservation and human needs I was pleased to read the opinion-page column "Saving Rain Forests," July 31. The author is right to say that creating pockets of protected areas amid a sea of human poverty will not, in the long run, save the rain forests. Conservation cannot be separated from its social, economic, and political contexts. I am surprised, however, by the author's contention that US conservation groups have not yet learned this lesson. It is, in fact, the guiding philosophy behind World Wildlife Fund's Wildlands and Human Needs Program. By promoting development based on sound environmental management, we work to reconcile ecological concerns with the economic and social needs. In Zambia, for example, WWF has helped establish game management areas that allow villagers to earn a better living while protecting their game from poachers. In the Philippines, we have worked with local fishermen to find ways of fishing that don't damage coral reef ecosystems. WWF will continue to support these and other activities that balance the needs of local people with long-term conservation interests. Barbara Wyckoff-Baird, Washington, World Wildlife Fund

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