Fighting and forgiveness

Some things never change. I came across an article by Daniel Ellsberg, written in October 2002. Ellsberg is the man who leaked a 7,000-page study to the press that detailed the involvement of America in Vietnam. It was the Gulf of Tompkins Resolution in 1964 that got us in the Vietnam War. Then there was the war president, the first President Bush. Then the second President Bush got us into the war in Iraq. It was second verse, same as the first. How do we as a nation get sucked in? Oh, wars are profitable for the generals, the Pentagon, the munitions people, airplane manufacturers, etc. Senator Byrd and Senator Kennedy fought against going to war in Iraq, but 75 senators from both parties voted for it. It’s been the longest war we have ever fought. And it’s the biggest expense in our budget, but nobody brings that up.

Mr. Ellsberg says the real reason for wars is oil. This war isn’t just for Iraq’s oil, but to strengthen our control of Saudi Arabia’s oil and eventually the oil of Kuwait and Iran. Some administrations think oil is worth going to war for. This article was written in 2002, but it’s still true. When are we going to smarten up? We are in a financial bind and the biggest debt we have is due to this war. But it looks like we’re finally going to get out of Afghanistan. We are going to train their people to take care of themselves. Why didn’t we do that in the first place? Who says we’re supposed to police the world? Let’s mind our own business! I’m tired of wars. I hope the peace movement will catch on and grow and grow! Peace is better than war! Let’s get smart!

Now I want to change the subject. I came across a poem by an inmate in an Alabama prison.

“I’m sorry for what I did,

it was a terrible thing to do.

My frustration got the best of me

and I guess the stress did, too.

I promise I will never do

what I did that depressing night.

It’s just that I was sad because my family and I had a fight.

That fight had pushed me over the limit

and I did not know what to do.

If I had really been thinking hard enough

I would have turned to you.

If I ever get off that track again

I’ll pray that you will help.

It gets hard sometimes in the world today,

and I often just think of myself.

I never thought that what I did

would make others feel that bad.

And when I think of what I did now

it really makes me sad.

Sad for all the pain I’ve caused

and all those sad tears.

But I will never do it again

because I have you to calm my fears.

You will calm my fears and everything else

including any strife.

I learned that many years ago

when I allowed you in my life.”

I think this is a beautiful poem of contrition. I don’t know a thing about this author. He was, and maybe still is, in prison with Bill Shank. Bill sent me the poem. Would you forgive a family member or a friend who wrote this poem? If Jesus says there is no sin that is so big it can’t be forgiven, that should be a comfort to all of us, but are we big enough to apply this forgiveness to others? If you have a broken relationship with anyone, make a real attempt to eliminate these bad feelings. Even if you were right and the other person was wrong, let it go! In reality, you’re hurting yourself!

Now I’ll bring you up to date on our group, which is trying to help Chautauqua County. We will have a meeting Tuesday, Jan. 29 at the Fredonia Village Hall at 7 p.m. We’d like for all people who have attended in the past to come again and bring interested friends. Don’t forget that everything starts with an idea! We need a name for our group. Put on your thinking caps!

Margaret Valone is a Fredonia resident. Send comments on this column to