I'M A LIFELONG Philadelphian who happens to live now in a land far away.

Occasionally, I wonder if my fellow Philadelphians and Americans have gotten any smarter. I then go on to the Internet and read the op-ed sections of some familiar newspapers and come to the sad realization that, in fact, they haven't gotten smarter - and they're still getting played.

Played by those who have and still want more. Played by those who will do or say anything as to not change what they surely believe to be their birthright or even the natural order of things in their demented and greedy minds.

People have been divided and grouped and divided some more by those among us who hope that the divided never realize that there is only one way to truly label people - those who have and those who have not.

Pick any subject or issue, like abortion, gun control, poverty, race and religion to name a few, and you will find people for or against, pro or con, like or dislike, but they never follow the money trail, and they fail to ask, who among us gains from our division?

Maybe someday Philadelphians and Americans will get smart, but I'm afraid that we must hit rock bottom first, and we're almost there, before we can begin our rise to the top.

Rick Jones, Athens

Poetic justice

I was walking the dog late one night,

When my eyes beheld a fearful sight.

Two animals were fighting in the dark.

One was a cat and one was a shark.

I stopped to take a closer look, when the cat hit the shark with a mean right hook.

As the shark went down I heard him mutter, I'm glad I voted for Michael Nutter.

He'll put an end to all this crime.

That old cat will soon be doing time.

Margie Domard, Philadelphia