Amid conflict, remember the power of nonviolence

The Nov. 20 article, "Palestinian militants mobilize human shields. Israel pauses." told of a most effective act of nonviolent protest when hundreds of Gaza neighbors forced Israel to call off airstrikes on the residence of a militant leader by surrounding the house as human shields.

The article also reports that Palestinian leaders are hailing the nonviolent protest as a moral victory that will be replicated. And well they should.

Often overlooked in our war-weary world is the power of nonviolence and peaceful protest as successfully used by Mahatma Gandhi in India, Martin Luther King Jr. in America, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu in South Africa, and others in many other parts of the world.

I have always felt that the end of the terrible battles between Palestinians and Israelis will only come through gifted leaders from the Palestinian territories or Israel who realize that vengeance begets only vengeance and that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only be settled by the power of nonviolence and peaceful protest.

There should be either a two-state solution or perhaps a single-state solution in which Jews and Palestinians can show to the world that they can live in peace with equal shares of power and guarantees of religious liberty.
Harris Fawell
Retired member of Congress
Naperville, Ill.

Parents shouldn't do their kids' projects

I write in response to Janine Wood's Nov. 17 Opinion piece, "A mom's plea: Don't make me do school projects!" To a mother sick and tired of doing her kid's projects: Your child's teacher may sympathize more than you think. Many parents seem to regard teachers in the same way that their kids do – as mysterious people who sleep in the school under the desks. But many teachers are parents themselves, after all. And most teachers loathe giving A's to projects that are so clearly done (entirely) by parents. The same is true with homework.

Parents nowadays miss the point – they think only of letter grades for projects. They don't seem to care about self-discipline, creativity, cooperation – all the qualities that successful adults need.

Sure, parents need to gather the supplies for projects, but most students would do better if that Star Wars game were shut off and the children were allowed, even expected, to create things during some of their free time. Writing, reading, and arithmetic are vital, but in America, we got far because of our innovation, not our ability to parrot texts.

So parents, buy the supplies, but let the kids create. Try not to think of the A. Kids are in school to learn, not to score.
K. Meyrick
Fairfield, Conn.

Amen to Janine Wood's Nov. 17 Opinion piece on parents having to do much of their kids' schoolwork. How timely to have come across it while skimming the paper looking for current events that my fourth-grader failed to mention earlier in the week that he needed to know about for the following day. It also happened to be the day his California relief map was turned in, complete with my husband's final touches (my contribution had been earlier in the project).

I find it's not merely the pressure from the teacher or child that prompts the parent's required participation; it's also the knowledge that at least a couple of those school projects will be turned in by children whose overzealous parents have created professional-quality works of art.
Lorna Scherff
North Tustin, Calif.

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