Friday, February 12, 2010

Dear Postmaster General: a critique of and a counter-proposal

With regard to the recent agitation for a repeal of the planned philatelic issue honoring Blessed Theresa of Calcutta, has its heart in the right place.

Unfortunately, and as I have argued consistently in these pages, that is not enough by half.

I shall never cease to insist that, when it is possible to make one's point without questioning the motives of those on the other side of an issue, and especially without casting aspersions on the bona fides of those who think differently from us, we have a moral obligation to take care that we do so.

In this spirit, I would offer the following alternative language to that, which appears in the petition to the Postmaster General:

John E. Potter
Postmaster General
475 L'Enfant Plaza, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20260

Dear General Potter:

We, the undersigned, write to you to express our support for the USPS decision to honor Blessed Theresa of Calcutta with a philatelic issue.

We understand that many of our fellow citizens are concerned that issuing the stamp might violate the principles on which our government is founded, and by which our civil society is ordered, insofar as the issue would honor a religious figure.

With due respect for the right of our fellow citizens to have and to express their opinions, and careful to eschew any suggestion of doubt regarding their good faith, we submit that their concerns in this regard are unfounded and their objections without merit.

The United States Postal Service has a long and distinguished tradition of celebrating humanity's great benefactors with philatelic issues. In the past, the USPS has honored eminent statesemen, soldiers, jurists, churchmen, artists and humanitarians.

Blessed Theresa of Calcutta has been honored by governments for her great work on behalf of the downtrodden, for her indefatigable defence of human dignity and for her ceaseless promotion of human happiness. For her absolute and utterly fearless militancy in the cause of peace in our world, she was made a Nobel laureate.

For the United States Postal Service to renege on plans bestow a posthumous honor on Blessed Theresa because she was animated in her life's work by religious conviction, were inconsistent with the best traditions of the United States Postal Service.
That's how I would have done it.

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