Readers Write: Cooperation – it's the American way

Letters to the Editor for the October 21, 2013 weekly print magazine: There are many examples in US history in which the blending of ideas and seemingly contrary perspectives has led to outstanding accomplishment.

Partners in progress, the US way

The message on moderation from former Sen. Olympia Snow in her Sept. 9 Common Ground, Common Good commentary, "Americans must mobilize for moderation," is like a bright light in America's currently stormy skies. There have, of course, been many calls for moderation and compromise in the past. There is one key element that often seems to be missing from these noble clarions. Balance in public affairs and human interactions is not just a compromise or bland melting pot but can be a dynamic force.

There are many examples in US history in which the blending of ideas and seemingly contrary perspectives has led to outstanding accomplishment. There is a kind of "resonance" created when people acknowledge and understand views that are different from their own. Take, for example, technological breakthroughs in the natural gas industry.

In the purest sense of free enterprise and individual initiative, George Mitchell, a tech-savvy wildcatter, pushed the long-known technique of hydrofracking into the modern era, made a fortune, and changed the whole American energy landscape. He did this, however, with steadfast support from the Department of Energy and its national laboratories. The spark of American entrepreneurship and free enterprise drawing on strong publicly supported R&D is a formula that has worked many times in our history.

American democracy itself was born in this spirit of give and take. Ben Franklin and others called it the "great experiment" – welding together diverse philosophies, cultures, religions, and viewpoints. That balance is itself our greatest strength.

This flexible yet creative spirit is what has propelled America to enormous world-altering achievements and is the fundamental strength that will carry it through the current challenges. There are also natural, deeply rooted principles that blend the individual and community, the singular genius with collective inspiration, the spark of free markets built on an educated, healthy society. In order to bring this "American genius" to its full flower we must now move beyond the era of ideology, and set aside the anachronisms of liberal and conservative stereotypes.

Dr. Allan Hauer

Corrales, N.M.

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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.”

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