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Sept. 11 seared the image of terror into our collective consciousness. It was an unthinkable horror.
Most of us have never experienced true fear, much less the kind of brutal terror perpetrated on innocents that day. We felt the fear of the airline passengers, the firefighters, the rescue workers, the people trapped in stairways of crumbling buildings, the desperate and the dying. This was a visceral fear, this was terror right before us. We responded with our hearts, our tears, our courage and our help. The outpouring for the victims has been monumental. But we must remember that terror claims its victims in many ways.
Yes, there are the great cataclysmic events that unfold on the world stage, the hijackers, the suicide bombers, the snipers and the despots with their jails. But there is another kind of terror that is right among us, every minute of every day, claiming its victims inch by inch, breaking them down, destroying them with fear and pain. The victims of this insidious terror are true innocents: mothers, sons and daughters, parents and grandparents, wives and girlfriends, black and white, Catholic and Protestant, Buddhist and Muslim. The perpetrators of this terror don't care; they isolate their victims in a web of fear and brutality.
The terrorists that inflict this terrible fear don't hide. They don't have to, because they are our neighbors, our colleagues, our teammates, our brothers, our mothers and our fathers. We smile and suspect. We hope it's not true and we try to look the other way, but fear is fear, brutality is brutality, violence is violence, and terror is terror. We cannot deny this, we cannot mitigate it, we cannot excuse it, and we cannot tolerate it. The domestic abusers among us are terrorists just as surely as the hijackers of Sept. 11 were terrorists.
Their victims are brutalized every day, the fear is palpable, the bruises indelible, and death, if it comes at the hands of an abuser, is sudden and ugly. Victims are beaten and demeaned and trapped and raped. This is true terror.
When these victims cry out for help, we don't send in aircraft carriers and armies to save them. Politicians don't rise up and make speeches. Cabinet positions are not created and governments don't make hasty laws to protect them. Celebrities don't have telethons to help them and firefighters don't pass boots. They just call us, and we help them.
Organizations like CASA fight this war every day. They rescue the victims, intercede and prosecute the perpetrators of domestic terror. The visage of terror they fight is not so tragically grand as buildings blowing up, but its effects are no less devastating. The fight may be on a smaller field, but the needs are no less important.
At this time of reflection and national fear, please don't forget CASA's mission. Please help to end domestic terror here in our own community. With your support we will prevail over the violence and vanquish the terror that these victims endure. Please don't forget them.
-- Michael Blowers, Pinellas Park
Re: Changes to borders concern fire chief, Nov. 25.
I live in the Lealman Fire District, an uncorporated part of Pinellas County. I bought my home here because I do not want to be part of any city -- not St. Petersburg, and certainly not Kenneth City, whose residents refuse to support the Pinellas/St. Petersburg Public Library even though they have Dixie Hollins High School within their borders. If they want to use the library, they have to pay $100 a year! Why would I want to belong to a city whose residents don't support reading, learning and knowledge? And I do not want to be part of a new Lealman City.
Lealman, as a fire district, certainly serves a vital service. An appropriate portion of revenue from the annexed parts of the district by the "annexers" should be paid to Lealman to maintain the level of response and safety provided for many years.
Sure, it might be nice to have street lights and lower water bills, but the rest of the price is not worth it to me. Hate to tell you, Kenneth City, but your police department is not-so-fondly referred to as "Frick and Frack" by your own community as well as the rest of Pinellas. Thank goodness for the Sheriff's Office.
Why Pinellas Park, Seminole, St. Petersburg and Kenneth City have the burning desire to be larger is beyond me. I just want to be left alone and not constantly worried about being "invaded, raided, and held hostage" by these greedy landlords.
-- Sharon Friedman, St. Petersburg
Re: Duck Hunt, Nov. 18.
How nice that our officials are paying someone to put a tranquilizer in food for the ducks in Freedom Lake Park. When the poor ducks can no longer move, they cart them away to some farm, or so they say.
I take my small grandchild to that park. I shudder to think what would happen if she put that tranquilizer in her mouth.
Leave the animals alone in our park. They are the few pleasures we have left. Where are your brains, or are you sitting on them?
-- A. Kovacs, Pinellas Park
Re: Students make soap to benefit victims, by Phindile Xaba, Nov. 21.
I think it is marvelous that Tyrone Elementary second-graders are making and selling soap to raise money for families of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. I like the comment of principal James Lott, who said, "Involving them in projects such as the soapmaking is to say that helping others is the basic way of existence." How true.
Students should not just learn reading, writing and arithmetic, etc. They should also be solidly founded within. Frankly, society has enough self-absorbed, materialistic snobs who succumb to selfishness. In homes and schools, compassion training should be preliminary work for youth development. Such will provide a framework for a future community that is more cultural and compassionate. A society in which one is not measured materially but morally would make us more civilized.
To me, it has always been the inner person, not his outward possessions, that is the measure of his worthiness as a human being.
-- Robert B. Fleming, St. Petersburg