Wednesday April 13, 2011

On war and taxes

Editor of the Reformer:

Again this year, I will be refusing to pay taxes. The state has chosen an enemy, but I have no enemy. For I was not born of the state, but of woman. Sired not by the state, but by a natural man. And I have not been conveyed to the state in any unnatural means. I hope the state will abolish its evil death power.

These words were written by the late Marion Coddington Bromley many years ago and are as true today as when they were first spoken by her many years ago. I myself became a war-tax refuser in 1966 while on the staff of the New England Committee for Nonviolent Action (NECNVA) and have never regretted it.

That same year, I also became a draft refuser, sending back 1-0 classification I had received from the draft board in Philadelphia. All this happened at the height of the Vietnam War. As I have stated before, the Vietnam War radicalized my own thinking. I have never regretted my decision and this may have been a small step in the federal government’s decision to de-escalate and eventually end the Vietnam War. As had been said, "Wars will end when men refuse to fight."

Lou Waronker,

Brattleboro, April 4

Memories of Sweet Pond from regular visitor

Editor of the Reformer:

I am a Florida resident but grew up spending summers at our family cabin on Sweet Pond Road in Guilford. As kids, Sweet Pond was the focus of all of our daily activities. We fished from the dam, swam and dropped from rope swings, floated around in inner-tubes, canoed, splashed through the brooks, and tramped around on the trails. There was not a summer day that we were not at the pond, and those days on Sweet Pond were the ones we looked forward to as we sat in classrooms all fall, winter and spring.

I’m not a kid anymore, and Sweet Pond is not the great swimming hole it once was, but I now sit in my office 51 weeks a year, looking forward to the one week when I can walk the trail to my one of my favorite spots on the planet, look out over Sweet Pond at the gorgeous hillside beyond, forget the rat race, and renew my spirit.

Guilford is a beautiful community and Sweet Pond is its heart and soul. I hope that the state of Vermont will give residents and lifelong visitors the opportunity to preserve this treasure.

Lorie Bonneville,

Winter Springs, Fl., April 4

Discrimination
is dehumanizing

Editor of the Reformer:

As I read the appreciative note regarding the Bellows Falls blood drive (April 4), I was immediately filled with sadness and anger. Certainly not because of that community’s efforts to coordinate life-saving efforts, but because, as a gay man, I am barred from giving blood.

In response to the HIV/AIDS crisis, 26 years ago, the FDA put guidelines into place prohibiting blood donation from men who have had sex since with other men since 1977 and women who have had sex with men who have had sex with men since 1977. Nevermind that I am HIV negative. Nevermind that all blood is tested after donation. Nevermind that I have O Negative blood running through my veins, the rare universal donor that can save lives.

It’s one thing to not have my marriage recognized by the federal government. It’s quite another, and dehumanizing on a far different level, to be told in this time of great blood shortage, that my blood is not welcome.

I am continuously struck by how many people do not know about this ban. My hope is that these few words will raise some awareness and spur someone in some federal office somewhere to change a practice that is as discriminatory as it is deadly. Until then, I will sit here with my O Negative blood running through me, saddened and angry that I can’t do more.

Ken Schneck,

West Brattleboro, April 4

Downtown traffic
leads to reflection

Editor of the Reformer:

Fourteen minutes waiting at the Brattleboro Food Coop parking lot exit onto Main Street. Traffic was completely stopped in all directions except for tractor trailers coming down Canal Street and turning onto Route 142 regardless of the lights. It was at least seven minutes before the train actually pulled into the station. Town traffic came to a complete standstill, people were jaywalking and drivers were running the lights out of frustration and making their own rules.

I waited, like most of us, and then I realized what a wonderful opporunity this is to meditate and offer loving kindness to the traffic engineers who created this mess.

Diana Bander,

Brookline, April 4

Vigil offers
food for thought

Editor of the Reformer:

I went to the vigil for the Japanese people at Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant on March 20. There were hundreds of us. There I learned that Yankee is built to the same exact design as the ruptured nuke plants at Fukushima. I also learned that a U.S. nuclear plant is likely to have many more spent fuel rods on site than a Japanese plant. Naturally I found this very disturbing.

In fact, it is completely insane that we still have no idea what to do with the radioactive waste we generate. It would be as if the designers of an office park had forgotten to include plumbing or garbage disposal in their plans, but the buildings went up anyway. "For now we’ll just put all this, um, waste in this storeroom here on the sixth floor...." It doesn’t get any more unsustainable than that.

So may I suggest a temporary solution to our need for energy? I call it "conservation," that is, the voluntary (or eventually not-so-voluntary) use of less energy and resources. I admit this is a very radical-sounding idea, and no doubt someone at the Nero Institute or wherever will say it is bad for business. But we don’t really have any other good options right now, at least until some magical new source of energy -- fusion, perhaps? -- saves us from having to live frugally in harmony with the Earth.

Of course, this would be strictly a temporary, emergency measure, just for the time being until this whole unsustainability thing clears up, in the next 200 years or so.

David Hunter,

Jacksonville, April 6

Wardsboro missing

Editor of the Reformer:

In regards to your Windham County maps that appear in your paper: Do you have something against Wardsboro? We are a little town, but no smaller than the surrounding towns around us -- that are always on the map.

We are located on Route 100 between Jamaica and Dover. Yes, we have people here, two grocery stores, fire and rescue, two post offices, school, town hall and office, library, etc. Maybe if you got a GPS you could find us. But (maybe not). It’s not a good feeling "not being on the map."

Sylvia Ballantine,

Wardsboro, March 28