Learning Decency from Religion

As in your Page 1 article, "The Quest to Restore Common Decency," Dec. 20, much soul-searching has gone on via the news media to discover the reason and the cure for current indecency and immorality.

The deterioration of decency has accompanied quite proportionately the deterioration of society's interest in and support of religion. Historically and traditionally, the temple and church have been the schools of virtue. Not so necessarily as places of organizational denomination, but as places that teach children to replace selfishness with unselfishness, dishonesty with honesty, sensuality with self-control, and hatred with love.

The family is the strongest educator, but moral teachings in the family are based on what prophet and sage have inculcated. Those families that place emphasis on religious training are generally the ones whose children learn the greatest sense of decency.

The current quest for decency accompanies the current trend back to religious study.

Ralph W. Emerson

Tacoma, Wash.

The battle against isolationism

Growing protectionist and isolationist sentiment in the United States poses a considerable obstacle to progress toward an open world economy and higher standards of living worldwide, not least in the US itself. In the Dec. 10 article, "Free Trade: Why America Is Needed But Americans Are Not So Sure," the author urges proponents of freer trade to educate the public on the benefits of international economic independence and on the importance of the World Trade Organization for setting trade rules and settling trade disputes.

Faulting "Americans trained in economics" for emphasizing only the overall ("macroeconomic") benefits of freer trade, but neglecting the widespread fears of its sometimes injurious consequences, the author does not go beyond advocating a public-education campaign to foster greater enlightenment on these issues.

Essential to countering the protectionist sentiments she rightly abhors should be a coherent commitment by the president to help ensure that the trade policy advantageous to the nation as a whole is also advantageous to every state in the union.

A dramatic pledge along these lines to all 50 governors should be the centerpiece of this commitment. Lack of such a pledge made congressional ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement more contentious than it should have been. Lack of such a pledge will seriously impair prospects for expanding NAFTA and launching other free-trade initiatives.

David J. Steinberg

Alexandria, Va.

Former president,

Council for an Open World Economy

Alcohol and planes don't mix

Your Page 1 article, "Season Turns Ugly When Air Travelers Become Unruly," Dec. 27, struck a very responsive note in me.

It is my belief, and was that of my husband, that no alcoholic beverages should be served in flight for numerous reasons, the prime one being that in case of an emergency passengers need to follow instructions carefully and with their wits about them. My husband was a captain for 38 years with Pan Am and knew firsthand whereof he spoke.

Cigarette smoking has been eliminated - why can't alcohol?

Celine Karraker

Southbury, Conn.

Meet Mr. Bernoulli

Your " 'RoboMoth' Helps Solve the Great Insect-Flight Caper" article of Dec. 31 contains a scientific error. It states that the faster air underneath the wing generates lift. But for there to be lifting force under the wing, the air must move slower underneath than over the top. Bernoulli's principle states where the velocity of a fluid is high the pressure is low.

Bruce Cartozian

Boyes Hot Springs, Calif.

Your letters are welcome. Letters for publication must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published in the Monitor and none acknowledged. All letters are subject to editing. Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to OPED@CSPS.COM.

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