Questions and Answers in East Hampton Discussion

East ender Ellen Frank sent this message last week:

"In the face of lowered flags for tsunami victims but not one lowered flag for the innocent women and children we killed in Iraq, victims of our own actions, can I live a responsible life in this world? "

At last week's Inaugural Day discussion at East Hampton's St. Lukes Episcopal Church many questions about responsibility and values were asked. A group of about 100 people including many local clergy attempted to answer them.

Some participants spoke about their despair and depression in the face of the election of George Bush and his war policy. The moderator, Rev. John Best of Montauk described depression as 'anger turned inward' and suggested we could use our anger constructively.

The participants divided into groups of five with the assignment to answer these questions:

What values have been violated by the present government?
Which are 'shared values' ?
How can we shape public policy?

Here are some of the answers offered:

* Our shared values:

- honesty
- social responsibility
- recognition of our common humanity ('we are all one')
- respect for differences
- tolerance of opposing views

* The government' actions:

- The U.S. government has always dealt dishonestly with some nations including the native tribes, but now they are treating the whole world this way.

- Media are manipulated to sell the government position

- The president talks about society of 'ownership' (i.e. privitization)
and is taking away the funds allocated for the common good.

- The 'checks and balances' of the government are undermined with
one group controlling all three branches of government.

* How we can change public policy:

- We need to put pressure on the democrats to oppose the war policy.

- Demand accountability from our representatives

- Support Congress members who oppose the Bush policies.

- Talk back to the corporate media

- Promote independent media

- Speak out

- Join local anti-war groups

- Support the "Vote to Impeach" campaign.

The event was organized by Joanne Porco, Julia Chechere, Mary Ann Calandrille and others.

In connection with the event a list of local organizations and contacts working for peace and for social justice was distributed. (the list was not endorsed by the organizers. it is posted below)