In response to your Jan. 2 article "Why Bush's war threats have extra gravitas": Beneath the headline, you write that President Bush's "foreign policy style, marked by decisiveness, prompts a more serious respect for US power."
In "Declarations of Independence," historian Howard Zinn writes: "In the 1960s, a student at Harvard Law School addressed parents and alumni with these words: 'The streets are in turmoil. The universities are filled with students rebelling and rioting. Communists are seeking to destroy our country. Russia is threatening us with her might. And the republic is in danger. Yes! Danger from within and without. We need law and order! Without law and order our nation cannot survive.'
"There was prolonged applause. When the applause died down, the student quietly told his listeners: 'These words were spoken in 1932 by Adolf Hitler.' "
I wonder how ashamed those people were to have applauded Hitler's words. And I wonder if, when our troops come home from Iraq, with Saddam Hussein still alive and well but many innocent women, children, and old people dead, we'll really believe Mr. Bush.
I wonder if we'll really believe that this war was for peace - and against "an enemy who doesn't value life," as I heard him say when watching him on my television.
Regarding your Dec. 20 article "In San Francisco, pet owners recast as 'guardians' ": A move is under way to update the language used to describe the bonds we share with our animal companions to improve their treatment. Six cities and one state have recognized the benefits of the language change by incorporating the term "guardian" into their animal-related codes.
Guardian language changes our culture's perception of animals as disposable property - the root cause of abuse, neglect, abandonment, and irresponsibility toward animals.
As we encourage people to act as animal guardians rather than as owners of a piece of property, animal abuse and abandonment will be reduced, and people will act more responsibly toward their animals and make a lifelong commitment to their care.
The guardian message of responsibility and compassion enhances more immediate solutions to animal overpopulation such as spaying and neutering and adoption. Though important, these efforts do little to address the cultural underpinnings of the problem. Updating how we think is where the ultimate answer lies, as that is what determines how we act. Guardian language offers a long-term vision of the changes in behavior that we all desire.
Lisa H. Iyer
Newport Beach, Calif.
In Defense of Animals
Regarding your Jan. 7 article "Teacher quality lags in poorer schools": You say that teachers surveyed in higher-poverty schools believe lack of parental involvement and support is a problem.
If families are in substandard living conditions, and parents work multiple jobs or work during school activities, there is little time for prioritizing school support. If drugs, gangs, and/or crime are high in neighborhoods, it's quite possible that a family's mere survival takes precedence over helping a child with homework.
My child and I are blessed in that we are not faced with these problems. But not everyone is as fortunate. People who are well-off don't always understand the other side of the story.
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