NEIGHBORS IN DISPUTE

Don’t wait until conflict gets out of hand

Having mediated with Community Mediation & Restorative Services for 20 years, I’ve seen my share of neighbor-to-neighbor disputes and believe they can be the most emotional of disputes, disturbing us in our place of refuge and affecting the family we protect. They start out as small infractions or misunderstandings with presumed ulterior motives. Left unresolved, they escalate to police calls, “for sale” signs, lawsuits and even violence. From the perspective of a mediator, many tragic events — such as the recent fatal shooting in New Brighton (“Deer feeding also fed the rage of neighbor; two shot in feud,” May 7) — can be traced back to a lost window of opportunity: a chance for those affected to hear and be heard and, with the help of mediators, to develop a plan to live peacefully side-by-side.

CMRS works with local police and with Hennepin County’s Harassment Court to intervene, especially in summer, when neighbor-to-neighbor disputes increase. Those in conflict need not wait for a law to be broken. Help is available at communitymediations.org or 763-561-0033.

Beth Bailey, New Hope

 

AMTRAK

A new day, yet marred in several respects

The Union Depot has opened to Amtrak passenger service: What a great day for St. Paul and for all of us who enjoy traveling by train. Yet what an unfortunate paradox that the first trains arriving at this beautifully refurbished depot are significantly late!

My wife and I have enjoyed many Amtrak trips, and most were reasonably on time. But that was mostly before the track-clogging growth of North Dakota oil trains. With the huge number of oil, coal and freight trains taking priority over Amtrak passenger trains, it’s clearly time to lay more tracks dedicated to passenger travel. Following the lead of the high-speed track being constructed between Chicago and St. Louis, wouldn’t a dedicated high-speed line between St. Paul and Chicago be the perfect complement to the historic reopening of Union Depot?

Bill Steinbicker, Minnetonka

• • •

Yes, it’s good that Union Depot got fixed up, and nice that Amtrak stops there. But I wonder if Amtrak weighed the consequences of closing the Midway Station, where there’s easy long-term parking, something Union Depot doesn’t have. And going to downtown St. Paul isn’t particularly convenient, especially from Minneapolis. The new Green Line light-rail service won’t help much, taking more than 40 minutes to get from downtown to downtown.

David Markle, Minneapolis

 

RACIAL EQUITY

Minneapolis should do what really counts

The recent presentation of the racial equity plan to the Minneapolis City Council is one more sign of what ails the city. Civil-rights director Velma Korbel’s comments suggesting that council members (or anyone else, for that matter) questioning the effectiveness of yet another task force report “don’t care” about poverty or inequity were offensive (“City Council head says it’s time for action, not reports on racial equity,” May 8).

The real test of the council’s commitment to equity is a willingness to make tough choices on transit, education and jobs. So far on Southwest light rail, the council is failing that test by placing a priority on the influential and affluent few over the critical needs of the less fortunate many. Similarly, city leaders have chosen not to use their “bully pulpit” to demand real education reform.

Finally, we have yet to see any discussion of reprogramming the city’s community development resources and bonding priorities to create sustainable living-wage jobs. A jobs park at the Upper Harbor Terminal would do far more to address racial and economic gaps than would any blue-ribbon report.

Paul Ostrow, Minneapolis

 

The writer was a member of the Minneapolis City Council from 1998 to 2009.

 

SCIENCE VS. THEOLOGY

Why hate education? Why hate wonder?

As of this writing, the Boko Haram terrorist group held almost 300 girls in captivity, having taken most of them from their school in Nigeria on April 14. Their leader, Abubakar Shekau, says the group does these deeds because of its deep hatred of Western education. But why? Most us will assume that one reason is that the girls are not being taught to be submissive to the Holy Texts, to the men in their families and eventually, to their husbands. Instead their heads likely will be filled with thoughts of equality between women and men, mention of that being in the Qur’an. And these attitudes might spread.

There is another reason that may seem picky or remote from everyday life, but in fact is profoundly important. It is the difference in the way science is taught. In the West, it is taken for granted that the actions of objects ranging from atoms and electrons to the largest stars can be explained by laws of nature, and that understanding can be broadened by research with attention to “cause and effect.” In Islam, all this is explained by the will of Allah, who is active in the tiniest motion to the most gigantic. There are no laws of nature to learn.

Carol M. Fuller, St. Paul

• • •

At more than 75 years of age, I would like to respond to the May 9 letters under the headline “Prayers have no place in U.S. government.”

The assumptions and assertions throughout were quite astounding, but the one that I would like to address is “without credible evidence of higher deities.” I find that assertion really quite remarkable and in some ways, unfortunately, quite common. I also find it regrettable.

Where is the sense of wonder, of being alive, of nature, of the elegant universe? Without the profound appreciation of all that is and the reduction of everything to “scientific” verification, this life becomes colorless and flat and, might I add, harsh. I am reminded of a recent quote by Bill Gates: “The mystery and the beauty of the world is overwhelmingly amazing, and there’s no scientific explanation of how it came about.”

Another quote that I am fond of is from years past by a very famous scientist, Blaise Pascal: “Too much to deny, too little to be sure.” Indeed, that is our predicament. But let us not go glibly on our way without some thoughtful consideration.

Roald Fuglestad, Park Rapids, Minn.