Balanced Discourse

April, 2019
Jim White, Editor
The Pamlico News

Dear Editor,

Thank you for printing the frequent Letters to the Editor submitted by Merritt Watson. His clear and even-keeled views are a breath of fresh air in the toxic environment that has overwhelmed our news, politics and even our discourse among neighbors. I agree with many, but not all, of his views, but more importantly, it his tone that is so refreshing and vital today. Those letters stand in stark contrast to the other frequent letters
by a woman from Oriental. While I thoroughly respect her right to freedom of speech, and to have views that are different than my own, I am saddened by the anger in her tone and seeming lack of tolerance for views and beliefs different than her own.

Whether the topic is abortion rights, immigration reform, our current president’s behavior or whatever, it always seems to come down to a Christian lesson that we should all believe in. We are not a Christian country. We are fortunate to have freedom of religion. Our government is not run by any church. While she does usually mention “Judeo-Christian” values, I feel that they are sometimes misused.

As a Jew, my understanding is that one of the most important ethical values in Judaism, and I daresay in Christianity as well as many other religions, is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18). Another quintessential value appears a few verses later in the Bible when we read, “the alien who resides with you shall be to you like a citizen of yours, and you shall love him as yourself because you were aliens in the land of Egypt” (Lev. 19:34). (The Hebrew word for alien in the Bible is “ger” which also translates as stranger, or someone from another nation.) While the Bible should not dictate our country’s immigration laws, I feel that those laws should be developed, administered and enforced humanely, fairly and without discrimination.

While we are reminded of the lesson of how to treat the stranger throughout the year, we are especially mindful of it at this time of year when the Festival of Passover is upon us. The main purpose of Passover is to feel as if we, too, were slaves or strangers in a strange land, so we can empathize with strangers and ultimately treat them with kindness and compassion. We are all connected. We should remember that, and
treat each other as we would like to be treated.

One final note: I was heartened recently at the Gun Safety Seminar presented by Pamlico
Progressives, and sensitively led by Diane Lemieux. While a wide range of views on gun rights and gun safety were represented by those in attendance, we were able to have a thoughtful, civil, respectful discussion while still sharing our passions and beliefs. May we all share more of that.

Marsha Luhrs


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