On the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive, Lt. Col. (ret.) Thomas Dombrowsky a Vietnam War combat veteran and Adjunct Professor, Gettysburg College, asks what we have learned: the trauma of veterans was not so much outright hostility as disinterest or silence; we should not blame the soldiers for bad policy; and, above all, we need to think beyond the end of hostilities so that winning the peace becomes as important as winning the war. On the positive side, he notes that two American presidents, Obama and Trump, have visited Viet Nam.
A widely traveled, award-winning “ambassador” of peace, Rev. Sandra Mackie, Spiritual Director, Ruth House, and Recipient of the Lifetime Peacemaker Award, Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice, believes that fear is a significant factor in war, and that better understanding is a key ingredient for peace. She observes that Iran should not be lumped together with other Mid-East nations. Iranians are not Arabs, but Persians with a long and proud history. They want to be democratic and open to the West, but free and independent; and when threatened, they think it necessary to develop a nuclear program.
Kim Davidson, Director, Center for Public Service, Gettysburg College, recently returned from a study tour of El Paso, TX and Juarez, Mexico maintains that current policy toward Mexican and Central American immigrants is based on racism, and that it is made more acute by the lack of transparency in the practices of I.C.E. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). She suggests several things that advocates can do, including making their voices heard and providing legal services to those wrongly detained.
Richard Michael, Interim Pastor Big Spring United Lutheran Church, discussed his recent travel to the Holy Land. Having led several groups over the years, he described the sites the group visited, the orientation to the trip for participants and the benefit of the trip for participants. For him and individuals in the group, the arrival to the Holy Land was “coming home” since the sites (cities and roads) are familiar to Christians through their reading of scriptures. In addition, Michael discussed the political realities which exist. Such a trip helps pastors to preach and teach more effectively and assists participants to reflect more critically when reading scripture and listening to sermons.
Often one party receives more votes for congress or the legislature and ends up with fewer representatives. The reason is “gerrymandering”: shaping voting districts to favor one party or the other. Steven Niebler, Coordinator, Fair Districts, Adams County, a Sub-group of Fair Districts, Pennsylvania, argues that the key to this unbalance is that elected officials choose their own voters. “Fair Districts,” a non-partisan advocacy group, proposes an eleven-member commission, chosen partly at random and partly by serious vetting, to set impartial boundaries.
Clay Pasqual, a college senior, spent the summer as intern for the Fund for American Studies in the Institute for Business and Governmental Affairs. The focus of his work dealt with healthcare issues in the United States. The internship included:
- Attending congressional hearings
- Working on Press Releases and Community Materials
- Attending and participating in a seminar
- Expanding healthcare to include issues beyond medicinal and hospitalization, i.e. socio-economic
Dr. Donnella, Chaplain of the College at Gettysburg College, shared his thoughts on Black Lives Matter, Immigration, Inter-religious dialogue, and Pope Francis. While he expressed his hopes in light of these topics, he also was saddened by the lack of religious and civil tolerance during the recent political issues in the United States.
Dr. Kenneth Mott, Professor of Political Science at Gettysburg College explains that beginning with the nomination of Senator Barry Goldwater in 1964 and the passage of the Civil Rights Act shortly thereafter, the two parties have moved away from the “middle” and toward the “more purified” or ideological. The reasons are complex but are mainly due to regionalism and segregation, as well as social media and an emphasis on individualism.