Letters to the Editor | April 3 edition

Readers writes in about islander Lee Ockinga-Kopines and civic responsibility.


A letter to Lee Ockinga-Kopines… from Rj

Beloved Lee,

To say thank you for your service seems so small in perspective to the contributions you have made to our community. You chose to help the underserved, the individuals who were on the edges of life and struggled to find a place in our community, the invisible ones who are overlooked. You navigated the complexities of the Washington State Division of Vocational Rehabilitation to create opportunities for the “different-abled”. Your perseverance and compassion in helping others affected the lives of so many — you are the purple butterfly that changed the path for so many people.

Without you, the BARC skate park would not be what it is today. You helped my parents navigate their way forward after I left. You helped them find the courage to use their grief for a greater good. The small successes of their first attempt to help others gave them the inner strength to take on a bigger task, the BARC. Those successes happened because you were there telling them that “yes, you can do this…” My gratitude for your kindness, to my parents and to all the individuals you have helped, is ineffable.

You walk in beauty, beloved friend. Get ready! Now that you are on this side of life — we have more work to do!

With love, Rj Ontiveros


The moral right to exist

I believe that the only country that has a legitimate moral right to exist is one whose people are striving to deeply understand and live the meaning of the following six words: Truth, honor, dignity, compassion, courage, and love.

Of course, that would inevitably lead them to this word: Forgiveness. Only by first understanding that there’s a lot more that we don’t understand than what we do understand can we move forward.

We have to learn to forgive ourselves and others for the errors and mistakes we make — once we become aware of them — if we expect to move forward in the direction of wisdom. We need to be humble enough not to be too sure about what we think we know and understand, but always willing to take a deeper look when another point of view raises legitimate questions we can’t yet answer.

A country that has a moral right to exist is one that believes in basic human rights… for all people everywhere.

It would be a country that teaches its children at home and in schools what I just said. It would be a country where we are striving to live by these values where we work, and it would be a country with a government truly of, by, and for the People. In a government of, by, and for the People, it’s the People who are responsible for what the government does, and for its mistakes.

Of course, we can only teach what we already understand and are truly striving to understand ourselves.

I hope someday we will strive to live in such a country; not just to be able to say the words but to live them and stand by them. Now that would be a country that has a legitimate right to exist, where its people can be both free and happy.

Mark Goldman