US can't afford complacency on Africa

I was delighted to read of President Bush's words at the recent World Bank meeting: "'A world where some live in comfort and plenty, while half of the human race lives on less than $2 a day, is neither just nor stable'" ("Bush's bold pledge to help the world's poor," July 26, opinion page).

I emigrated from South Africa in 1980, and feel privileged to be a citizen of this great country. Yet how easy it is to get complacent! We need to do more to help the poor in Africa. I grew up under the apartheid system. I left my family and friends largely because I came to realize that oppression dehumanized everyone, whites included. While we in the US do not practice such oppression toward Africans, we abandon them to their fate. We will suffer the same degradation of self-respect unless we help. We are the world's wealthiest country, yet our per-capita nonmilitary support of poor countries is among the lowest in the industrialized world.

We can and should support groups that shelter and educate AIDS orphans. And we need to write our lawmakers to increase US funding for the Global Health Fund, tuberculosis control, and child-poverty programs - funding which is currently less than we spend on Halloween candy.

Tim Tower Seattle

Sounding off about Navy's sonar

We appreciated the front-page story describing the threat to marine mammals posed by the Navy's deployment of its proposed Low Frequency Active (LFA) sonar ("Whales to Navy: Less noise, please," Aug. 15). Deploying LFA sonar in the world's oceans has the great potential of causing the extinction of many species. The National Marine Fisheries Service should deny the Navy's requests for permits.

Seward B. and Carol W. Brewster

Manchester, Maine

Staying beyond the consumer fray

I read with amused complicity the article by Jeffrey Shaffer about being outside the consumer fray ("Who buys Cool Whip, anyway?" Aug. 24, opinion page). I feel just the same! For years I have watched consumer madness grip my country. I am not a shopper - I buy only when I need something, and I'm not above resoling shoes and fixing holes in socks to avoid replacing them. I'm sure this puts me in a dwindling minority, but I cling to the belief that buying more goods is not life's primary activity.

The movement afoot to reduce the amount of trash we throw away and live a simpler life strikes a chord with me. I've read recently about people like me, but more on the extreme end of things - people who buy second-hand clothes, don't own a car, etc. Bravo! While I won't go that far, I applaud those who seek to live by values other than the throwaway ethos in command today.

Fran Barrineau Townsend, Mass.

Teachers need a break from class

I read with great interest your editorial on the shortage of teachers ("Finding quality teachers," July 17). I have a solution. I know many college graduates who have said they would go into teaching, were they not required to spend two years in teacher-training courses. I can understand how the Monitor and many of its readers believe that being a good teacher requires being taught to teach, but I know from my own experience that such is not the case.

Getting rid of this requirement will not be easy. But we will never bring our school systems up to par unless we place more emphasis on an in-depth knowledge of subjects and the desire to impart learning, and less emphasis on required teaching courses.

William Mackey Houston

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Due to the volume of mail, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com.

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