I have seen the great traumas, the war weariness, the hands held high in exasperation and despair. I have seen the loyal citizens of a small desert village abandon their homes and flee to tranquil places, where the conflicts of their civil servants do not follow their every footstep with raucous cries of clamorous strife. O troubled people of Benton City! Abandon this bitterness held in your hardened hearts, release the poisonous passions of malice, send away harbingers of deceit and petty rivalry. Let not the bitterness of past injustices fester and make septic the wound; instead, aid each other in compassion, forgive the past wrongs of sharp words foolishly spoken and in doing so save this city from extinction! Benton City lies in a tumult, where capricious tongues sway with the fickleness of the Western wind. The city has been rotting for years, festering, swelling with avarice, and filled with contempt for those in power and out of power. A poor reputation has been gained by this constant bickering, by the fighting caused from unforgiven trespasses. The city is wavering now, as a mirage wavers under the heat of a summer sun, and shall not last much longer should the cancer in its heart not be removed. We live in a beautiful land, blessed with the fruits and liberties that God has provided, let us not waste our talents, or our time, fashioning new vehicles of malice for our neighbors, nor brooding over past quarrels, and misspent ambition. Therefore I call upon the community of Benton City to forgive the entirety of the Kiona-Benton School District, to forgive the members of the school board, to forgive the administrators, to forgive the Kiona-Benton Education Association, to forgive the students, and to forgive their neighbors; the people of Benton City. O city! Join together in resolving these issues; paint a fresh outlook upon each day, and ask yourself this: Do you wish to be responsible for the death of the land we call home? Do you wish to hold the anger of past political prejudice against fellow human beings who are awaiting forgiveness, and asking for your mercy? Do you wish to be so selfish that your cannot find it within your heart to allow grace in the life a people facing day to day the same trials, tribulations, and anxieties that you do? I leave you now with this final plea: end this war of greed, power, and bitterness, and allow peace to cross the river into vineyard country, into a city deserved of grandeur, and capable of attaining prosperity through grace. w Lincoln Hammond is a student at Ki-Be High and citizen of Benton City.