A Monitor Thanksgiving

Why, despite all the hassle, do we love holidays? If we do it right, we’re putting others first, so we'd like to say "Thank you" to our readers.

Warren Ruda/The Hazleton Standard-Speaker/AP
Children dressed in costumes sing during a Thanksgiving program at a school in Fairview, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 12, 2019.

As I was reading this week’s cover story – not able to put it down, more like – I came to the part I liked most of all. The gratitude. The article is about the people who save Thanksgiving – the plumbers who unstick pipes, the hotline helpers who answer our panicked cooking questions. And you know what? It’s a hard day away from loved ones, but they enjoy doing it, because they feel our gratitude, which is genuine and overflowing.

It’s a reminder of why, despite all the hassle, we love holidays. If we do it right, we’re putting others first, whether as hosts, guests, or saintly repair technicians.

It seems only appropriate, then, to pause at the beginning of our Thanksgiving issue and share our sincere thanks for you, the readers of The Christian Science Monitor. Any publication founded with the object “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind” has lots on the to-do list. But No. 1 always has to be serving and empowering those who will actually do the work of making the world better. And that’s you.

As editor, one of my great unfulfilled wishes is to share with you how amazing Monitor readers are. I remember speaking to five of you who subscribed the week after the impeachment inquiry was announced in the United States. Could there be a more polarizing week? Yet each of you was thoughtful, gracious, and grateful that you had found a place that respected you enough to let you make up your own mind. When I asked one of these new readers to summarize the Monitor’s distinction in one word, he said “gentle.” I wanted to frame that and put it on the wall.

Just in going through my email, I meet amazing people every day. There’s Catherine Crossman, who says she’s loved the Monitor since before she could read, anticipating the children’s story that used to run in the newspaper. “I suppose it was healing me even then because of the love I could feel as my siblings and I crowded into my Dad’s lap and onto the arms of his chair to listen to the stories,” she wrote me.

Now, she takes the Monitor along with her as she does prison work. “One man told another of our workers that he had become more loving since reading the Monitor – direct healing!” Catherine writes.

Or Nancy Robison, who had her first published writing in the Monitor. “At age fourteen I wrote about my experience as a model on ‘live’ television in Los Angeles around 1949 – TV was very new, and I was thrilled when the Monitor accepted my story and paid – I think $15!” Now she shares her Monitor with the mail carrier, “who thanks me for it.”

The gratitude for the Monitor comes through email in waves. But on this of all days, let’s flip that around and serve a heaping portion of gravy-slathered gratitude in the other direction. From all of us at the Monitor, thank you.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

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