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by Abigail Van Buren

Intolerance and Hatred Can Have Deadly Consequences

DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Stuart" decried what he felt was the tragic rebirth of bigotry today, here and elsewhere. Whenever I hear about intolerance, I'm reminded of an old poem. (I do not know the author.) It made me think. Perhaps it will touch one of your other readers as well. -- GEORGE R. GOLDIE IV, OXNARD, CALIF.

DEAR GEORGE: The poem is long, but it's well worth space in this column. Read on:

THE COLD WITHIN

Six humans trapped in happenstance

In dark and bitter cold,

Each one possessed a stick of wood,

Or so the story's told.

Their dying fire in need of logs

The first woman held hers back,

For of the faces around the fire,

She noticed one was black.

The next man looking across the way

Saw not one of his church,

And couldn't bring himself to give

The fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes

He gave his coat a hitch,

Why should his log be put to use,

To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought

Of the wealth he had in store,

And how to keep what he had earned,

From the lazy, shiftless poor.

The black man's face bespoke revenge

As the fire passed from sight,

For all he saw in his stick of wood

Was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group

Did naught except for gain,

Giving only to those who gave,

Was how he played the game.

The logs held tight in death's still hands

Was proof of human sin,

They didn't die from the cold without,

They died from the cold within.

DEAR ABBY: I am a mammographer. I do screening and diagnostic mammograms for a living. I have a problem that seems to bother me more and more each day. I am asked several times a day, "Is this all you do, ALL DAY LONG?"

I find this question extremely irritating. I save lives. I have to bite my tongue to prevent sarcasm. Abby, how would you respond? -- FRUSTRATED AND UNAPPRECIATED

DEAR FRUSTRATED: I would just say "yes." And I'd add with a smile: "Isn't it wonderful that we have this life-saving technology? Before we had the miracle of mammography, cases of breast cancer usually went undiagnosed until it was too late."

But don't be angry or sarcastic about a question that is asked out of ignorance.

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