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(The following letter was published in The Berkshire Eagle in response to Alan Chartock's column "I Publius".  It is reproduced here without permission.)
Seek the quiet middle ground

To the Editor of THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE:-
Paul D. Phelps' response to a recent "I Publius" column by Alan Chartock ("Using gun issues for political gain" April 16) reminded me of so many polarized positions in print from both sides on more than one issue. Things are left out.

Gun issue: There are way more guns from all sources out there than anyone knows. No politician or police dept. wants to wade into that swamp. Why? Because guns cannot be controlled. Anti-gun columnists and gun-huggers don't want to touch this point. The anti-gunnists would have to admit that true control is hopeless. At best we can treat the known guns like cars. Pro-gunnists don't want their ability to collect,
swap, shoot and sell further encroached upon.

Abortion issue: Bernard (then Archbishop) Law of Boston proposed adoption for unwanted newborns when he took his office. That never came about as far as I know. It's the only reasonable way to deal with most (many?) unwanted pregnancies.

Right-to-Lifers should have large funds set up to work with Family Planning Clinics. A pregnant woman could be offered living expenses, health care etc. in exchange for bringing the fetus to term and giving it up for adoption at birth. Its called putting their money where their mouths are. 

Pro-Choicers should be loudly calling for Right- to-Lifers to do this. Adoption is pro-choice. Adoption is pro-life. It's not as if there is a dearth of couples wanting to adopt. This central point is skirted. Are both sides afraid to admit that the other won't go away? The British pro-lifers use friendly, quiet persuasion.

Liberals and Conservatives: Both of these lip- flapping societies prattle on about the nastiness of the other. What drivel. As long as soft money corrupts the system both sides are but clown-caricatures of what each should be. This year both seem to be slouching toward campaign finance reform and both seem afraid of the
rough democratic (small "d" democratic) beast that might get born.

Tough. Grow up you two childish political parties. The people are leading, time for you to follow.

Prayer/no prayer in the schools: The students will not be impressed by prayer. The students will not go to hell because of no prayer.

I went to an all boys, four-year Catholic high school in downtown Boston (1960-64). On the "First Friday" of each month we would go to confession at the school and troop four blocks away to a large old church to attend a high mass (organ and all). In a "state of grace" some boys would surreptitiously roll dimes out into traffic for the winos to dive for -- while walking to that church. In my last year there, we seniors went on a religious retreat to an urban monastery. Most behaved so badly that the friars almost canceled it all because it was such a mockery of a retreat.

That high school recently closed its doors for good. I'm glad.

Teach religion outside the classroom if it is desired. Forcing it doesn't work. If it's forced in the classroom, it will fail. Put the Ten Commandments on the wall and they become wallpaper to the children. If religion is taught, whose religion? Teach the precepts of all ethical disciplines in history class. They'll cancel each other out. 

In marital discord, labor/management disputes, neighbor-to-neighbor disagreements, etc., it's obvious when there is not a meeting in the middle. Yelling from both extremes of an issue is useless. The quiet middle ground is where the reality exists. Most of us live and work there. 

Canaan, N.Y., April 16, 2000
©2000 by MediaNews Group, Inc. and New England Newspapers, Inc.  Reproduced here without permission.

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