Letters to the editor
Readers write in about women in the Olympics and in Iran, Christians in Iraq, children coping with failure, and right-wing rhetoric.
(Page 2 of 3)
Steve JozefczykSkip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Regarding the opinion piece "The real reason Iran can't be trusted" by Mamoun Fandy: Iran is probably lying about its intent to build nuclear weapons, but it has nothing to do with its dominant religion.
First, every major religion allows lying under certain circumstances. Second, what country developing a nuclear weapons program hasn't concealed it? Third, the international system is anarchic, each state answers only to itself, forcing state leaders to act similarly in the ways they manipulate other states to maximize strategic interest.
Mr. Fandy also underestimates realpolitik by concluding that only when Iran "feels safe will it negotiate in good faith." In high stakes negotiations, skilled leaders use all the tools in their diplomatic arsenal, including "brinkmanship" and "mad dog diplomacy."
When my students choose to research a topic like "Islam causes terrorism," I advise them that it is extraordinarily difficult to tie religion to something as contemporary and practical as political activity, and unless they are theological experts, they run the risk of writing an ignorant paper based on stereotypes. That, unfortunately, is what Fandy has done.
Iran's foreign-policy decision-making is a very complex process, where different nodes of power debate and vie for influence with the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. The continued political struggle in Iran over the June election is more to blame for a lack of a breakthrough than religiously instructed deception.
Pressure to win
Brooke Williams's insightful commentary essay, "Let a child lose a game and learn to cope with failure" was welcome in this day when it seems our society is reluctant to let anyone – especially children – ever feel pain or even disappointment.
With the kind of pressure that's placed on winning in our society today it's no wonder that kids are afraid to lose. The current trend to shield them from failure is, perhaps, a reaction to this imbalance, which is also harmful.
Are they being taught that it's not whether we win or lose, but how we play the game? Or is our outlook now the famous "Winning is not the most important thing. It's the only thing"? Is that true for us, as adults? Is that how we are living? You can bet that the children are picking it up, regardless of what we say. If winning in life is more important to us than how we are playing the game of life, then the children are going to be terrified of losing.
We must begin to address these issues, and then we can also let kids fail on their own terms and learn to deal with it at their level – they can handle it.
New Milford, N.J.