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Letters

'O Little Town' a bit discordant

Visiting children in Bethlehem's Aida refugee camp. Visiting children in Bethlehem's Aida refugee camp.
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January 6, 2008

As a resident of Cambridge, I was very interested to read about the Cambridge-Bethlehem People-to-People initiative ("In Bethlehem, a bond is born," City Weekly, Dec. 23). But there was one very discordant note - the space given to the Jewish Community Relations Council's Nancy Kaufman, who was not a trip participant.

The two paragraphs devoted to her comments about the "fence" saving lives would have been better spent referencing the July 2004 decision by the International Court of Justice that Israel's wall was illegal where it entered Palestinian territory and should be immediately dismantled. Alternatively, that space could have been filled with a picture of the monstrous wall imprisoning Bethlehem. A visual image of "O Little Town of Bethlehem," whose destruction is being subsidized by American taxpayers, seems especially appropriate during the Christmas season.

NANCY MURRAY
Cambridge
The writer is a member of the Cambridge-Bethlehem project, but did not make the recent trip to Bethlehem.

Follow the rule; don't be rude

Our society has become very rude here in Boston, and the cellphone is only one example of it ("Politeness pleas," City Weekly, Dec. 23).

Many years ago, going to most stores and restaurants in Boston was a challenge, because the employess of this city were well-known for their rudeness. Over the years, a change has come over most companies, which no longer tolerate this rudeness from their employees. It hurts business!

These days, employess of most shops and restaurants in Boston are very nice, and much more efficient at their jobs. Yet I still avoid going to most places. Why? Because I find that it is the clientele that is rude. I find it impossible to enjoy anything with such rudeness all round me.

Several of my friends, when on a first date, use a simple little rule to help them judge the person they are with. They watch how they treat the waitstaff. It is a very telling method - others watch how they treat children or animals. But a server is being paid to serve you, and is locked into a subservient position. When you treat a server as inferior, you are giving away more about yourself than your conversation possibly ever could.

The sidewalks of the city are getting very dangerous, too. I have had bikes ride directly at me, joggers cut me off as if I have no right to the thoroughfare, and cars all but running me down as they race to stop at a red light. I have been bumped and elbowed and pushed on every sidewalk in Boston. But to respond to every one of these actions would have landed me in San Quentin years ago.

We need to have penalties for provocation. And this provocation can itself be analyzed as well. It usually comes from a person making some mistake themselves, or running late, or some other reason, but then acting as if this justifies being rude to others. Then things escalate. Responding to a minor shove with violent behavior is wrong. But provoking someone you do not know by unnecessarily treating them rudely should itself not go unpunished.

The golden rule is probably 3,000 years old - and yet the necessity of teaching and applying it remains as fresh as the day it was conceived.

KENNY MURPHY
Cambridge

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