To the editor: White Euro-Americans have dominated world history for the last 400 years. They have overrun indigenous populations, undervalued their cultures, plundered their resources and have enslaved or exploited many people of color, often justified in the name of a narrow interpretation of Christianity. Conflicts and wars resulted in the deaths of millions, and persons of color numbering in the billions have suffered because dominant whites have ignored their plight.

What might be done to redress these many wrongs? The first step simply is to acknowledge that our white ancestors have unconsciously been responsible for much of the violence. Those of us who are white may resist such acknowledgement because we are comfortable with our privileges and would rather not question how we got them. Without greater awareness of our history, however, not much will change. Just observe many large gatherings at sports events or concerts, and notice the preponderance of white faces. Collectively, they illustrate white dominance.

A positive action would be to ensure that all citizens can exercise their right to vote. But, given the polarization of our culture, obstacles to this rightful exercise are all too frequent. Is it possible that white folks fear losing control when they see the number of nonwhites gradually increase?

Another positive step would be for those on the left and on the right, indeed for all us, to surrender our hatreds and realize our human finitude and fallibility instead of rigidly holding to our points of view. Accepting that we are all fully conditioned by our culture can help us have compassion for our ancestors, for ourselves and for others having different convictions. Doing so can help us behave kindly whenever in the presence of others instead of treating them as objects.

Ultimately, we are all one, so we need to cease obsessing on secondary qualities of race, gender and sexual orientation. This is so necessary if we are to achieve a more peaceful world.

Richard Markham, Adams