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Letter to the Editor

Reader calls for alternatives to open burning

November 30, 2011 - Dear Editor,

I'm on the fence regarding the burning issue, as I can relate to arguments on both sides of the debate. I believe it comes down to understanding that when we are part of a community, that means sometimes tolerating things we are not so thrilled about, and setting boundaries for ourselves that are considerate of others.

There was someone in my neighborhood recently that was burning carpet and padding along with tires, which brought everyone out on the streets along with the fire department. Another day, someone burned leaves 12 hours straight, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Even closing all the windows, I couldn't escape burning eyes and hacking. It was a burn day and legal, unlike the carpet which was toxic. But being legal doesn't mean it wasn't inconsiderate or hazardous to everyone's health, let alone another neighbor who happens to have a severe allergy.

It seems anymore that too many people are ego-centric and fail to think outside of themselves. There are endless stories on the news that involve a lack of personal boundaries. Burning leaves for 12 hours is just one incident on the spectrum.

I've spoken of the practice of Tonglen before and I believe that if everyone would adopt this as their own, we'd have a more civil society that was less about empty political rhetorical stance and more about compassion. Tonglen is about breathing in the suffering of others and feeling it for yourself, then exhaling in love and peace and wishes of healing. I know its been transformative for me, and for anyone I know who has adopted it.

So even in considering issues as seemingly simple as burning leaves, I hope we can create a community that enables the flexibility for us each to live in a manner that suits us, but with the caveat that we do not impact another negatively. With every right, there is also a balancing responsibility. Boundaries are healthy. Lets be a healthy community.

Tammie Heazlit

Independence Township

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