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About 150 years ago, Walt Whitman, one of America's greatest "patriots," wrote that "America, if eligible at all to downfall and ruin, is eligible within herself, not without."

He went on, "Though I think I fully comprehend the absence of moral tone in our current politics and business, and the almost entire futility of absolute and simple honor as a counterpoise against the enormous greed for worldly wealth, with the trickeries of gaining it, all through society in our day, I still do not share the depression and despair on the subject which I find possessing many good people."

Later, Whitman wrote ... "I can conceive of no better service in the United States, henceforth, by democrats of thorough and heart-felt faith, than boldly exposing the weakness, liabilities and infinite corruptions of democracy."

I'm with Walt. I remain engaged in that service via such means as letters to this editor and to my elected representatives in Salem and Washington, D.C. I will continue to support people and organizations that do the same through their letters, art, acts of kindness and understanding, and who have empathy for and support the less-advantaged everywhere. One of the many reasons I appreciate the Corvallis community is the thousands of others who feel the same and act accordingly.

Finally, I thank Maria Popova for reminding me of Whitman's continuing legacy and the need to keep working for a more just society “as a counterpoise against” those who seem absent of a moral tone.

Stewart Holmes

Corvallis (Nov. 26)

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