What's worth sharing in American culture

I wish to commend John Hughes on his article "Time to revamp our culture of violence - for good" (Oct. 3). I have yet to find one individual who endorses such vileness as comes from Hollywood. What the czars of mass entertainment overlook is the fact that they have a tremendous responsibility to educate people - not "entertain" them with crassness. Our greatest task is to promote the virtues that lie dormant within each of us.

This brutal attack on America will, I hope, awaken movie-makers, big music stars, TV's talk show hosts, and others, and sensitize them to human dignity. Let us remember the thousands of victims of Sept. 11 with reverence. But more than that, let us resolve to root out cultural wickedness in our own society.

James Leonard-Amodeo Sonora, Calif.

Westerners - and especially Americans - need to guard against self-satisfaction. Americans take pride in national achievements and emphasize their conviction that the "American way" is the best and logical way. Many believe that their national values offer man's best chance for advancement. There is justification for those beliefs: America has stood between the free world and some of the worst threats to civilization.

But even within America, many are less than thrilled with the system; many do not appreciate being on the receiving end of US trade policies and media culture. Few Americans have any concept of the onslaught of their popular media on world sensibilities. Your entertainment industry has the financial and political clout to override dissent and cultural identity. Never underestimate its impact. Promoting democracy, women's rights, and such - in a tasteful manner - is one thing; promoting the interests of the entertainment industry is another. America needs to ensure that the practice of the Golden Rule does not mean "He who has the gold, makes the rules."

Joe Smuin

Port Coquitlam, British Columbia

"Truth is the hallmark of morality," as Ayn Rand wrote. Capitalism is a system that leaves men free to think, see the truth, and act upon it - and so it is a moral system. Based on individual rights, it bars all initiation of force from human relationships. It leaves man free to think and reason, and thus implicitly recognizes the role of reason in man's life. We have had unimagined wealth, prosperity, and health, because we have had an unheard-of freedom to pursue science, technology, and our own values.

The mind cannot function in shackles, where censorship and force leave people destitute, impoverished, suffering. The fall of the World Trade Center is a symbol of a clash between cultures, between freedom to think and act, and repression. Truth is the hallmark of morality. Let us rise again.

Michael J. Gold Houston, Tex.

Some see this crisis as an opportunity to move away from the "me generation" and be more concerned about life outside our selfish, personal words. I disagree. One reason for defending our country is that the US is one place where one can have a selfish, personal world. It's not purely selfless to give blood or to help out. It's a celebration of our homeland - not in a national or racial sense, but because our homeland is a "holy land" of individual rights and self-interest. Although most Americans, from our president on down, pay lip service to ideals of selflessness in national peril, I think most of us sense that we're defending our right to pursue happiness selfishly and guiltlessly. America, precisely because it operates on the philosophy of self-fulfillment, has the power to win.

Michael J. Hurd Chevy Chase, Md.

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