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Respecting the individual

One way to view the present collective state of civilization described in Joseph Harsch's article is through the microcosm of our own personal experience [``Behind the rising tide of extremist violence is a new world power structure,'' Aug. 23]. The clash of Christians and non-Christians, colonies and ``colonizers'' is no different in substance than the ``war'' for independence, equal rights, and respect waged in the hospital room, on the school playground, at the office, or between adult and child. We are either rebelling to make change, arming to prevent it, or just ``going with the flow.''

Change which is seen collectively begins individually. Progressive change necessarily begins with one's self, and is the result of outgrowing or exchanging an old idea for a new one (or two, or three).

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What each of us makes of our own ``microcosm'' determines the state of health of the ``macrocosm.'' Could the ``new world power structure'' be within? Melanie C. Spiller St. Louis

Curtis Sitomer reports the growing conviction that we must respect our children if we are to overcome child abuse [``Curbing abuse by nurturing respect for the young,'' Aug. 29].

If we will learn to respect children and everyone else, especially those who are different from us, we will overcome not only child abuse, but racism and war.

The home, the workplace, and the whole world will be worthy of its children and all the rest of us too. Victoria P. Oshiro Burnsville, Minn.

We have to help the would-be abusers find self-confidence, self-respect, and love for themselves. Only then can they love others and treat children with proper respect.

This does not excuse the abusers or say they should escape punishment, but more than just punishment is needed. Ruth M. Hoffman Maumee, Ohio

Calling attention to the use of terms and attitudes, as Mr. Sitomer does, will help to promote respect for children.

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The word ``kids,'' a term that has been used for a long time, could not help to promote self-respect in a youngster. It suggests mischief, uselessness, and of little value. Thinking of children as ``children'' or ``youngsters'' is long overdue. Emma A. Hunt Charlestown, N.H.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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