To the editor: Last night I watched a DVD titled “50 Years with Peter Paul and Mary.”

The DVD was probably a promotional item from PBS, and I had never played it. I expected it to be a compilation of their many great songs, but it turned out to include commentary by them and others on their career of activism about social issues, war and apartheid in South Africa.

We have many activists today, but they aren’t like Peter Paul and Mary. They were gentle activists who spoke softly to the consciences of those to whom they protested. It was, and still is, a powerful approach, so different from what we see today. Long ago they moved me in a way that no present-day protest can. The burning stores and smashed windows that we see on TV remind me of Kristallnacht.

I like old sayings. One is that “The pen is more powerful than the sword.” Since today so few people read anything, we should perhaps say “A song is more powerful than a riot.” The only reason that many modern protest movements act as they do is to permit people to vent their hate. Just quit it. Our objective (all of us) should be a society of mutual respect and, yes, even love.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said the night before he died, “I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land.” My own thoughts exactly.

Ed Dartford, Stockbridge