The light of kindness shines in Sylva


To the Editor:

I have taught public school English for several decades in Western North Carolina, and this is a letter of gratitude from a teacher to the people of Jackson County and to my favorite bookstore, City Lights.

Generations of students in both Swain and Jackson counties have benefited from City Lights’ kindness over the years, but what led me to write this particular letter was the wonderful gift that City Lights, in partnership with generous patrons, gave to Jackson Community School’s middle and high school students just before the Christmas holidays began.

Every year, City Lights invites children from different backgrounds and their advocates to submit a holiday wish list to the bookstore, and this creates the opportunity for members of the community to purchase books for these children. This season, our school was among the recipients of the invitation. The wish list we submitted was both long as well as specific, with requests ranging from country music artists to skateboarding, and from fantasy fiction to Cherokee crafts. City Lights managed to provide every student on our list with books they requested, though I am certain they had to special order many of the titles, including books in Spanish.

I must add that City Lights has always been gracious to my students, offering them discounts, space to display amateur writings, and even readings and workshops. However, watching adolescents and children who may never have owned a book walk into my Jackson Community School classroom and ask, “Are these all for us?” was among the most magical of the many events City Lights has sponsored for this community and its readers.

Every student from our list had at least one book to take home, and Chris Wilcox, City Lights’ proprietor, even contacted me after the event to say that a few extras had come in and were available for JCS to distribute after students return to school. Although I cannot say how this generosity will affect the students who received these books and took them home, I can say that the effect on this teacher, at least, is a deep and lifelong gratitude for the thoughtfulness and compassion of Sylva and its bookstore, City Lights.

Dawn Gilchrist, Sylva

Urges citizens to attend candlelight vigil


To the Editor:

A year ago on Jan. 6 I could not believe what I was seeing on my phone while I was at work.

I couldn’t focus because the images were so disturbing. Armed militants were attacking the Capitol and the Capitol Police to overturn the results of the 2020 election while Congress was in session and the vice president was overseeing the proceedings of the Electoral College votes. I thought, is this really America? Is it really happening? But it was, so one year after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Sylva will be sending a message that voters, not radicalized insurgents, decide the outcome of elections.

Jan. 6 was a violent and deadly attack against all Americans – against our country, our democracy, and our freedom as voters to choose the leaders who represent us so that we have a government of, by and for the people. A faction of elected officials turned their backs on America by inciting armed right-wing militants to attack our Capitol and then tried to block an investigation to cover up their role in this deadly violence.

This Jan. 6, exactly one year later, Americans of all races, places, parties, and backgrounds are holding candlelight vigils to say that in America, voters decide the outcome of elections. Democracy is not a partisan issue but something that unites us as Americans. To prevent this kind of attack from happening again, our elected leaders must urgently pass voting rights legislation to protect this country from anti-democratic forces that are trying to destroy it.

The event in Sylva is a candlelight vigil organized by IndivisibleCommonGroundWNC, and ours is one of more than 265 vigils that will take place across the country, including at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Join us today (Thursday, Jan. 6) from 5:30-6:30 p.m. by the fountain in Sylva so we can realize the promise of democracy for all of us – no matter our color, zip code or income – so we all have an equal say in the decisions that shape our daily lives and futures.

Nilofer Couture, Cullowhee



Putting faith in God and science


To the Editor:

During this current COVID pandemic, I am bewildered by the dialogue in society on the science of vaccinations and whether to get them or not.

Einstein wrote, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” Are we being blinded by not taking an objective, non-political view of COVID-19 and allowing the God-given ability of scientists to do their job by developing medical advances such as vaccines to aid humanity?

I have faith in God and God’s intervention to work with scientists and the medical field to abide by the Hippocratic Oath “to treat the ill to the best of one’s ability, to preserve a patient’s privacy, and to teach the secrets of medicine to the next generation.” The new oath since the pandemic adds, “physicians to eliminate their personal biases, combat disinformation to improve health literacy and be an ally to minorities and other underserved groups in society.” This seems to be a pragmatic, reasonable and respectful way to deal with vaccinations and the miracle of medical advances.

Yes we have free will and the freedom to choose. I choose to go with Divine intervention in the science of vaccines and vaccinations.

Tom Davis, Whittier