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A leadership vacuum, the 'War on Christmas," the Youth Symphony, and more

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Looking for leadership

So the New Year is upon us. In 1794, William Cobbett, an Englishman, wrote when touring America, "Happiness being the end of good government, that which produces the most is consequently the best."

In 1830, he wrote "Happiness ought to be your great object." The author of the article in the March 2013 issue of History Today magazine, Penny Young, stated that what Cobbett was talking about was the "eradication of poverty, full employment, an incorruptible justice system, an uncorrupted and transparent banking system, fair taxes, the highest standards in public service and public office — certainly no pensions and places or close connections with powerful media moguls — and independent-minded MPs (members of the House of Commons) who did the job without fear or favour." Mr. Cobbett walked the talk.

I was a sergeant in the Marines. I need a Captain. Anyone?

— Gary Umstattd

Colorado Springs

Post-holiday dialog

Talking with my agnostic friend Felicity the other day, I asked, "Hear about this so-called War on Christmas?"

"Yeah, what a farce. Why attack Christianity or other religions when they are self-destructing? Muslims killing Jews and Christians, Jews killing Muslims, Hindus killing Muslims and Sikhs, and all the rest. When Jesus said, 'The meek shall inherit the earth,' seems as if he is right. The only ones left standing will be pacifists."

"Too bad," I said, "that no supernatural gods of any kind have ever been proven. I wish they could prove us atheists wrong. Who wouldn't like a benevolent father taking care of us and giving us eternal paradise?"

"Not gonna happen," she said. "And who can imagine not getting bored senseless after the first 13 trillion millennia, and that's just the beginning?

"And no one really takes Jesus seriously. They don't believe for a second that they should give away all their possessions and spend their lives helping the poor. They don't believe 'Thou Shalt Not Kill' as they cheer soldiers and carry concealed guns. And Jesus ruled out even killing in self-defense with two additional commands, 'Turn the other cheek' and 'Love thine enemies.'"

"Amen. They say everyone should believe on faith. But faith by definition is belief with no supporting evidence, or even belief in spite of contradicting evidence. Maybe Mark Twain said it best: 'Faith is believing what you know ain't so.'"

Felicity smiled. "Down at Agnostic Headquarters, we say, 'Let's put the 'X' back in 'Xmas!'"

— Larimore Nicholl

Colorado Springs

A thank-you

As an alumna of the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony Association, I was excited and thankful to see the piece on the organization in last week's issue ("Noteworthy success," Give!, Dec. 25). The organization is indeed one of the gems of Colorado Springs.

The six years that I spent as a student in the orchestras transformed me not only into a better musician, but also a better student and all-around person. Debi [Krause-Reinsch], Gary [Nicholson] and all of the other hardworking administrative staff, coaches and conductors demand a very high standard of music and interpersonal skills from all of the kids there, no matter what age or group. The places I visited during the tours gave me a taste of the world outside of Colorado Springs, something that not many high school students necessarily get a chance to see.

Largely due to the positive experience that I had while in the Youth Symphony, I'm now working on my master's degree in violin in Boston, after having completed my undergrad at the University of Michigan. CSYSA is a wonderful organization that serves its students well, and gives them a solid foundation for their futures: as musicians if they choose, and well-rounded people regardless.

It's great that the groups are supported by a lot of the locals, and I hope your article will encourage more people to discover how worthwhile a cause this is. Thank you for giving them a well-deserved shout-out!

— Sophie Verhaeghe

Colorado Springs

Stay-at-home travelers

Most of us have been tourists sometime in our lives. We have been confronted with many choices. Where should we go? How long should we stay?

Then along come financial constraints, national disasters or man-made disasters. We then decide to stay home.

How about making Colorado Springs a better city for the residents?

The city cannot depend on tourists to fill our coffers. Only satisfied residents can do that.

— Ruth Goldman

Colorado Springs

Worldwide suicide

I am as concerned about suicide, as is letter-writer Brooke Squires ("Guns and veteran suicide," Dec. 25). I had a brother-in-law try to commit suicide several times and have not seen him in over 40 years.

A quick search of the World Health Organization's data shows 32 countries have a higher suicide rate than ours. China, Russia, France and Japan are just a few with higher rates. Guns are very restricted in these countries and most of the other ones with higher rates of suicide. As we can see, the instrument people commit this act with is not the issue, but treating them for their problems in time would be the right solution to prevent suicide.

— Jill Coleman

Colorado Springs

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