Should a true world leader listen, or act alone?
Regarding "An earful on the war from America's 'allies' " (May 1, Opinion): In addressing European audiences in regard to the US war on terror, Amitai Etzioni noted the hostility expressed by Europeans who say American soldiers are in Afghanistan in the interest of protecting an oil pipeline. If this is true, did the United States have to wait for the impetus of Sept. 11 to do so? Given a quick moment's thought the answer is: No.
If the US was only concerned with oil, and this was its only motive in international involvement, why doesn't it consider itself to be great friends with Saddam Hussein? The US should not spend a great deal of time appeasing European attitudes. The US should continue to concern itself with doing whatever is right.
Terry M. Adams
Amitai Etzioni's opinion piece indicates that being a global leader means being ready to stand alone. But I must argue that global leaders use persuasive reason to win people over to their righteous cause. Those who cannot win over the international community and insist on going it alone are more rightfully labeled as rogue states. If we genuinely want to transform the resentment that breeds terrorism, we must find ways to get the international community to want to work with us.
True leaders find voices that calm the people even while denouncing what has been done wrong. True leaders attract support for pursuit of another kind of world. Support for a world of diplomacy and negotiation. A world that distributes resources as fairly as possible. A world in which one voice does not degrade another.
But if a leader uses the same methods as he's condemned, and aligns himself with the worst instead of the highest principles, he sells out democracy. If a leader treats people with disrespect by locking them up without proper charges, and treats prisoners with the same "terrorist" tactics as he's condemned, he gives up his own moral ground.
The US has already been thrown off the UN Human Rights Commission [but since reinstated]. It has forfeited its role in a World Court and rejected international efforts to preserve the planet environmentally thereby isolating itself from the human and governing relationships that would make us a better and wiser state and world.
Regarding "Teachers battle for book choice" (May 2): As a creative, highly experienced and well-educated teacher, I became tired of the politicization of the textbook process and I quit my teaching job in Los Angeles. Much to my dismay, I discovered on arrival in Northern California, more of the same kind of "micro management."
This interference in the teaching process has become obstructive. I've changed positions several times and finally have decided not to work in a district where academic freedom for the instructor isn't respected. There are districts where we can still teach the way we feel is right, although these districts are becoming fewer by the day.
The issue is one of modeling what we want taught in our society. Do we want high school graduates who are just robots, or do we want good, critical-thinking citizens who understand the political process and value their rights as citizens? More and more, school districts are becoming dictatorial toward teachers and students, ordering what is to be taught and learned. But learning and teaching are creative processes that do not respond well to autocratic demand.
Santa Rosa, Calif.
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