Letters to the Editor — December 25, 2015

Rotary thankful for support over the year


The Southern Sussex Rotary would like to say thank you to our sponsors! We had a very fun and successful Night at the Clayton. Proceeds are being donated to the Jackie Pavik RYLA Foundation and sponsoring two juniors from Indian River High School to attend RYLA this year in Jackie’s name.

RYLA stands for Rotary Youth Leadership Awards and is a three-day workshop, being held this year in Chestertown, Md., at Easter Seals Camp Fairlee, that gives current juniors in high school the opportunity to learn about community service and leadership.

The students complete a service project, learn leadership skills, have fun team-building activities, and are divided into groups to develop their own service project. On the final day, the students present their projects to parents and Rotary members. The group with the best presentation earns money to donate to the charity of their choice.

Below are our generous contributors:

• Friends of Rotary — Jennifer Pavik; Steve Morgan—Morgan Capital; David Nilsson, Ric Neiman, Ron Lewis—Sustaining Support; Steve Hartstein—The Insurance Market;

• Bronze Sponsors — Jefferson, Urian, Doane & Sterner; The Off the Hook Restaurant Group; Resort Quest Real Estate; Hurricane Hapkido.

• Silver Sponsors — Coastal Point, The Joshua M Freeman Foundation;

• Auction donations — Caitlin Rowe—It Works; RACC Fitness author Thomas J. Ryan; Jennifer Perry; Ferdinand Comolli; the Clayton Theatre; Drifting Grounds; the Salted Rim.

And a very special thanks to the Clayton Theatre for their time, patience and generosity to the community through all of their fundraiser nights.

We look forward to seeing you all next year “At the Movies!”

Southern Sussex Rotary

Reader believes we must open our hearts


The letter of state Sen. Hocker to the governor, urging him to refuse to accept Syrian refugees into the state, demands a response. The letter reflects a questionable understanding of the facts on a number of issues: the participants in the Paris attacks, the current scrupulous vetting of immigrants, and the legal and practical ability of states to refuse immigrants. However, what I wish to address is the appeal made to fear.

Fear is a potent emotion. Tapping into that emotion is both easy and popular. It is easy because security is by nature a tenuous thing. We cannot guarantee our safety from one moment to the next. By raising the specter of hostile immigrants, all our anxieties can be focused into one — one that appears manageable. It is also popular.

It appeals to us on a primitive (fight/flight) level and spurs us to unite in action. Once engaged, a complex world suddenly takes on an amazing simplicity. Rationality gives way to irrationality, our better side to our darker side. Our vision is bifurcated, where people are either good or bad, friend or foe, and where the issue becomes either destroy or be destroyed.

Tremendous resolve and energy is released to secure victory. Because the threat is presented as existential, we convince ourselves that tactics need to be used that are abhorrent to us when employed by our enemies (case in point, torture). There is no question that it is exhilarating to be caught up in this fervor. The crusade unites people, providing them with the loftiest sense of purpose and resolve. It also garners votes.

The incredible wave of vicious rhetoric today has reached a crescendo in recent years. It has become standard fare since the traumas of 9/11, Katrina and the economic crisis. Instead of acknowledging and addressing the cause of our descent into hysteria, we look for scapegoats.

There is a tremendous danger to allow ourselves to be carried away by this surge of emotion. We overlook the fact that life is complex and consequently that our actions have larger and long-ranging repercussions. We dehumanize people, treating them as things, as beasts, to be overcome. We forfeit the ability to distinguish between terrorists and refugees. Everyone is a potential threat.

Every occasion in which we have allowed such emotion to rule us has been a disgrace to our nation’s history. The treatment of Japanese citizens during World War II is a very present memory for many. In short, to give in to fear can lead us to lose our soul.

Terrorism is real and demands that prudent precautions be taken. We have a choice, though, as to how we respond. There is more to a nation than its ability to protect itself. As human beings we also require that life have meaning. As a nation, we must stand for something. We must know that our way of life contains something that must continue because it represents a striving for greater dignity for all persons and contributes to community.

Our nation was founded on the notion that every life is valuable, a value that relies in the “Creator” rather than in the whims of government or public opinion. We have found particular strength in the variety of immigrants who have come to our shores. It is precisely this diversity that has contributed to our greatness. The current appeal to fear betrays our values as a nation.

Searching for that something that defines us and makes us unique as a nation is vitally important in a context in which the conflict with extremists is essentially ideological. An ideology cannot be fought merely with bombs, but must be countered with better ideas.

Of immense concern is how this attitude is heard by refugees who are already living in our area. Learning a new language and adapting to a new culture must be daunting in the extreme. But this current climate of hate communicates that they are viewed with suspicion, and that as soon as the crisis is over they should be prepared to return to their places of origin. This attitude only further alienates. It also feeds radicalization. Immigrants should be welcomed. We should help assimilate so that they can make their own contribution to our nation.

It is especially in times of threat that we as a nation are tested. We must reexamine who we are as a nation. We must reaffirm our highest values and not succumb to fear. We must show our enemies and the world that we have a vision which is worth supporting, which affirms life. We are greater than this.

Kerry R. Shull
Ocean View Presbyterian Church