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Opinion: Warriors and peacemakers in North Dakota

Tribal members conduct a cleansing ceremony for the veterans who traveled to North Dakota to oppose the Dakota Access oil pipeline.
Tribal members conduct a cleansing ceremony for the veterans who traveled to North Dakota to oppose the Dakota Access oil pipeline.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: On one side of Saturday’s front page there was a story of how Steve Bannon has been a catalyst for divisiveness.

But there is another, better way to engage conflicting political opponents. It was demonstrated by the veterans coming to stand with the water protectors in North Dakota. They asked for and received forgiveness from Sioux spiritual leaders for past broken treaties and government mistreatment of Native Americans. (“Veterans came to North Dakota to protest a pipeline. But they also found healing and forgiveness,” Dec. 10)

It’s always a small group who starts change. Warriors of the spirit recognize each other. The soldiers and Native Americans realized their outward forms were empty and embraced each other as fellow warriors for world peace who have been joined in suffering.

Thank you for this emotional catharsis.

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Steve Mattern, Corona

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Humanity has many faces, and it is both heartbreaking and heartwarming that these veterans have the wherewithal of coming to terms with tough decisions that led them to a cause they feel has worth.

As their healing continues, let’s hope they set an extended philosophy as a warning to anyone contemplating enlistment. The concept of world peace and justice is not a fad, nor is it trivial, but it starts with a young person questioning the potential long-term harms of going into an institution built for combat.

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And as these veterans have realized, active duty does not necessarily make us safe at home. Just ask any Native American.

Scott Matz, Los Angeles

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