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English-only doesn't unite

Some countries have dictatorial rulers, state religions and strict limitations on individual freedoms in order to enforce "unity." But America has always been held together by something very different: a shared belief in freedom, equality and democracy.

Unity was a major motivation for those who voted for Utah's official English initiative. I'm concerned, however, that we will discover that even with an official English law, we are still far from being united.

The problem is that legislation, no matter how well-intended, can never cause true unity. Unity starts in the hearts of individuals and grows as people reach out to one another across language and cultural barriers. That reaching must come from both directions.

There is much that those of us who speak English can do to help those who are still learning the language. The United Way and local schools list numerous volunteer opportunities. But most of all, we need to practice patience and extend the hand of friendship.

After all, our ancestors came here seeking a better life, just like immigrants today.

Kyra Richards

Orem