I write in response to Virginia Seuffert’s column, “Protest, sure, but do it like grownups” [Viewpoints, Dec. 5].

Like Ms. Seuffert, I have veterans in the family and I am mindful of what they have experienced. Unlike her, I do not find parades or memorial services particularly meaningful (and, for the record, neither did my family’s vets). I think a better way to honor military personnel is to make sure that they are called into service only for appropriate reasons. This war does not meet that test.

Besides our bonds with veterans, we have something else in common: we want to be safe. We just disagree on the strategies that will promote safety. I believe that trying to resolve a conflict through violence is like trying to put out a fire by pouring gasoline on it. Violence only breeds more violence.

War seeks to destroy the opponent. It does not resolve the underlying conflict. It creates more enemies by traumatizing generations of people who will resent and fear each other, and who may choose to respond in violent ways. War makes us less safe.

In my opinion, the best way to promote safety is to talk with the people with whom we are in disagreement, to try to understand their needs and values, to identify areas of common ground, and build on that. It is a highly challenging, difficult, time-consuming process. In the end, though, negotiation is more efficient than violence, which should become more and more obvious as this war drags on.

Our words in this village newspaper won’t much change the international situation. So what can we Oak Parkers do? We can do on a small scale what we would like to see on the global scale. We can commit to living peacefully with each other. Let’s not use physical or emotional violence. Instead of calling names across a divide, let’s make the effort to understand what is motivating others to do what they do. Let’s focus on common values and goals, and work toward them.

Susan Piha
Oak Park

Join the discussion on social media!