Terrible Tragedy in Philadelphia

Despite the headline of his article (Editorial Pages, May 15), "Did They Have to Destroy West Philly in Order to Save It?" William Raspberry, like most good people, misses the point. The grotesque happening in Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love, reveals that something of Hitler is buried not so deeply in each of us.

What brings that something out is a little thing called "war." It was "war" that was so emotionally proclaimed over television by Philly's mayor, and then waged so appropriately by his general city managing director, ex-Army Gen. Leo H. Brooks.

It doesn't matter whether we are white or black, whether the name is Frank Rizzo or Wilson Goode, or the place is West Philly, Beirut, Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Nicaragua. When we are caught in the ascending spiral of fear, hatred, frustration and violence so that making war makes sense, then it becomes prudent and righteous to: attempt a surgically precise drop of a "device" (thank you George Orwell) that explodes on a gasoline-soaked building known to be storing explosives, more gasoline--and oh yes, men, women and children; then watch it and them burn for 90 minutes without lifting a hand; and then have a fire chief say publicly that in a choice between saving property (building) and lives (his firemen's) he chose life.

For him the lives in that burning building didn't count.

There is also in each of us the potential for compassionate responsibility associated with Jesus. Man's genius now connects any war to the final war erasing most life from this planet. Our survival demands that more of us take responsibility for staying the hand of those who wage war in our name and with our taxes--at home in West Philly and our larger home, this planet Earth.



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