You SAY: Let­ters to the ed­i­tor

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Happy hol­i­days, all

Re: Dec. 16 let­ter to the ed­i­tor, “Call it Christ­mas!”

There’s a rea­son I say “happy hol­i­days” and “the hol­i­day sea­son.” My faith cel­e­brates a ma­jor holy day at this time of year, too. This is a sa­cred sea­son for many faiths. It’s also the sea­son of New Year, which is a sec­u­lar hol­i­day. Re­lax: Rec­og­niz­ing that the rest of us also cel­e­brate at this time of year is not an at­tack on your faith. The hol­i­day sea­son is some­thing that we all have in com­mon.

I wish peo­ple “Merry Christ­mas” only if I’m cer­tain that they cel­e­brate Christ­mas. Since I’m not Chris­tian, I don’t guess about what oth­ers cel­e­brate. So I say “Happy hol­i­days” if I don’t know for sure. If you’re of­fended by my heart­felt ex­pres­sion of good­will, that’s your choice. Happy hol­i­days!

Je­sus’ story en­dures

Re: Dec. 16 let­ter to the ed­i­tor, “Call it Christ­mas!”

This let­ter is in­tended to be a trib­ute to all those who re­gard Christ­mas to be about Je­sus. We hear so much about the war on Christ­mas, and, it should be a con­cern to all Chris­tians, but my an­swer to those who have the de­sire to see Christ­mas moved into his­tory, your ef­forts have been in vain.

For the past 2,000 years, peo­ple have set aside a day to cel­e­brate the birth of Je­sus. I don’t sup­pose any­one can say for sure Dec. 25 is the ab­so­lute cor­rect day, but that doesn’t mat­ter. Chris­tians cel­e­brate out of faith in the fact that their sav­ior was born, and is still alive. There are those who spend valu­able time try­ing to abol­ish manger scenes, Santa, the ev­er­green tree and many other things per­tain­ing to Christ­mas. To the be­liever, it’s about Je­sus.

Trail of Lights wel­come

The Austin Trail of Lights be­gan again at the per­fect time to brighten our com­mu­nity fol­low­ing the trau­matic event in New­town, Conn. The happy, cheer­ful faces of chil­dren of all ages are a liv­ing trib­ute to our city lead­ers, com­pa­nies, in­di­vid­u­als, es­pe­cially Paul Car­rozza, and many lo­cal non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions that are fea­tured for the first time.

Even the fam­i­lies wait­ing pa­tiently in line to en­ter the trail seemed con­tent just to be to­gether in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence.

Brits and text­books

Re: Dec. 14 let­ter to the ed­i­tor, “Oner­ous tests.”

The tests are bad enough, but why in the world would a Bri­tish com­pany have a $468 mil­lion con­tract for them? We out­source pub­lic toll roads to a Span­ish com­pany and now we are al­low­ing Pear­son, a Bri­tish com­pany, to dic­tate to our pub­lic schools. For (more) shame, Texas.

School mas­sacre

I cer­tainly un­der­stand the calls for ac­tion. But in­stead of sim­ply fall­ing in line with the “we-need-gun-con­trol­now” crowd, I would sug­gest we con­sider a more poignant ques­tion: Why have th­ese events been hap­pen­ing in only the past 30 years or so? Af­ter all, guns have been a part of this coun­try for 200plus years. Why now? The vast ma­jor­ity of gun own­ers are re­spon­si­ble, law-abid­ing ci­ti­zens.

What’s changed in our so­ci­ety and in the way we con­duct our lives that could be con­tribut­ing to th­ese sense­less acts of vi­o­lence? The “we­need-gun-con­trol-now” crowd of­fers to cure a disease by tak­ing a pill to treat a symp­tom as though we’re a coun­try of homi­ci­dal ma­ni­acs that sim­ply needs to be dis­armed. What’s caus­ing the disease? That’s where the an­swer lies. And God help us, the an­swer may be rather un­set­tling.

Ad­dress men­tal ill­ness

I think we need to un­der­stand that the real prob­lem with mass mur­ders is not guns but men­tally de­ranged peo­ple with guns or other weapons. The largest mass mur­ders in U.S. his­tory didn’t even in­volve guns. The 1995 Ok­la­homa fed­eral build­ing bombers used a farm fer­til­izer and diesel fuel bomb. The 9/11 mass mur­der­ers used box knives to hi­jack planes which they then flew into build­ings, killing al­most 3,000. Men­tally de­ranged per­sons will al­ways find weapons to use.

The so­lu­tion is to iden­tify and get help/treat­ment for th­ese men­tally de­ranged peo­ple. Where guns are banned crime goes up, not down, be­cause the crim­i­nals know the ci­ti­zens are un­able to de­fend them­selves. Ev­ery time that a mass mur­der has oc­curred it has been in a place where guns were banned. The mur­der­ers knew no­body there could shoot back.

Car­bon tax needed

Re: Dec. 15 com­men­tary, “Global warm­ing fa­tal to trees.”

I hold a Ph.D. in bi­ol­ogy. When you are trained as a bi­ol­o­gist you think of the Earth as a large-scale ecosys­tem, much as a doc­tor thinks of a hu­man body as a com­plex or­ga­nized sys­tem. The Earth is run­ning a fever. It’s low­grade now, maybe around 101; if it were my own, I might still be hop­ing to get in to work. But the Earth’s fever is caused by the burn­ing of fos­sil fu­els. This fever is not go­ing to sub­side; it’s only go­ing to keep go­ing up, un­less we stop the burn­ing.

It’s a sim­ple as that. As Hal­ter says, we’ve al­ready heated the Earth up half as much as we can be­fore its forests suc­cumb.

For­tu­nately we can stop the burn­ing, but only through pol­icy that makes eco­nomic sense. We must build the po­lit­i­cal will for a car­bon tax, and we must do it now. The Austin Amer­i­can-States­man en­cour­ages email and faxes from read­ers. Please in­clude a full name, ad­dress and day­time and evening phone num­bers.We edit let­ters for brevity, gram­mar, style and clar­ity. Edited let­ters ad­dress a sin­gle idea and do not ex­ceed 150 words.Anony­mous let­ters will not be pub­lished. Let­ters be­come prop­erty of the Austin Amer­i­canS­tates­man. Send emails to let­ters@ states­man.com. Mail to: Let­ters to the Ed­i­tor, P.O. Box 670,Austin,TX 78767.

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