On New Year’s Day, I read two tiny but profound articles on Page A3 of the Press Herald. Together they spoke volumes about our world.

In the first article, Pope Francis bid farewell to 2017 during a prayer service by decrying the wars, injustices and many other man-made ills that ruined the year. He emphasized war as a flagrant sign of our repeated, absurd pride that causes multiple forms of human suffering.

The second article reported U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issuing a “red alert” for unity in 2018 after a year of setbacks. He cited dangerous worldwide xenophobia and horrific violations of human rights to be on the rise. Global anxieties about nuclear weapons and nuclear war are the highest since the Cold War.

Facing these dire critiques and warnings, we can easily give up hope for a better future. However, we do not stand helpless in the face of danger. With the executive branch escalating tensions daily, we must tell congressional representatives that we want them to stop the saber rattling and inflammatory threats. We must remind Reps. Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin, and Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins that dialogue and diplomacy have worked in the past to avoid war and capitulation with adversaries. They are our voices to stand up against endless war.

Urge them to vote against a budget deal that drastically raises Pentagon spending at the expense of vital social programs, education, infrastructure and our environment. Request that our senators co-sponsor S. 2047 to keep our president from starting a war with North Korea without congressional authorization.

Pope Francis ended his homily with gratitude for those who work for the common good and world peace. Now is the time to make Congress hear our plea for diplomacy, not war. Living under a 2018 “red alert” is not what I want for my loved ones.

Carol Taylor