Readers Weigh In on the Lighter Side

I have subscribed to the Monitor from the time I became a student of Christian Science over 25 years ago. It would take pages to list all the areas of the paper that I value. I feel I am well informed on what is going on in Washington and in all parts of the world.

It is inspiring to read all the good news. In particular, I enjoy knowing about the policeman in "Fighting Crime, One Kid at a Time" (March 10) bringing love, principle, and help to young people. I was prompted to write this letter by the reader who bemoaned the ice cream competition (March 21). I loved it. I would rejoice if the Monitor could be placed in the seat pocket of airplanes. The subscriptions would quadruple at least.

Marjorie Z. Harrington

Boca Grande, Fla.

In response to the reader letter that notes that the Monitor prints serious journalism and occasionally an article on the lighter side: I have always found it wonderful that a person with an engaging mind from any walk of life can pick up the Monitor and think, "This was written for me!" The editor comments that the edition containing an article on Monitor staff members' ice-cream tastes also held plenty of spinach (articles on Romanian-Hungarian relations, religious liberty, immigration in France, China diplomacy, etc.) If that's spinach, then I love spinach! More spinach, please!

Bob Rein

Euclid, Ohio

Yes, ice cream is a trivial subject, certainly compared to stories of third-world hunger, for example. And no, I would not consider staff polls of strong importance to your readers as consumers.

But, as the Chinese philosopher Chuan Tzu wrote, " A man has to understand the useless before you can talk to him about the useful. The earth is certainly vast and broad, though a man uses no more of it than the area he puts his feet on. If, however, you were to dig away all the earth from around his feet would he still be able to make use of it? It is obvious that the useless has its use."

I won' t stand on ice cream but briefly seeing you chat about it, as we all do, reopens my eyes as to what life should be.

Emily Ranseen

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey

It is highly fitting that the 1997 baseball season is dedicated to commemorating the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's breaking Major League Baseball's color line ("Baseball!" April 1).

Robinson's abiding faith, keen intellect, superior athletic skills, and great courage enabled him to succeed in spite of unbelievable obstacles. His achievement opened a door for African-Americans in professional sports and other areas.

The man who gave Robinson his chance also merits recognition: Branch Rickey, general manager of the then-Brooklyn Dodgers. By signing Robinson to a Dodgers farm team contract for the 1946 season, Mr. Rickey went against the code of society that prohibited African-Americans from playing in white professional leagues. Not a single person encouraged him. His own family begged him not to do it. Like Robinson, the God-fearing Rickey had to turn the other cheek when verbally attacked by critics.

Rickey's act was one of the few times in United States history that opportunity for African-Americans was offered voluntarily. Almost all advancement has come as a result of court orders, marches, sit-ins, and boycotts. African-Americans had to resort to these measures to get unfair laws changed. Rickey wasn't ordered to bring blacks into Major League Baseball. He did it because he knew it was the right thing to do.

Our country has been extremely slow in granting African-Americans their God-given human rights. Rickey set an example that needs to be followed today, exemplifying voluntary affirmative action at its best. Heroic Hall of Famer peacemakers Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey broke the color line in baseball, because it was the right thing to do.

Paul Whiteley Sr.

Louisville, Ky.

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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