Readers write: Arts skills are essential, gun violence

Letters to the editor for the Oct. 24, 2016 weekly magazine.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff
Students Brenda Francisco as Flounder (l.), Adriana Garcia as Ariel, and Nicholas Daniels as Prince Eric perform in the musical 'The Little Mermaid' at Roosevelt preK-8 school in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Arts skills are essential

Regarding the Aug. 29 cover story, “Saved by art”: Expanding the arts in education beyond the traditional values of entertainment, cultural enrichment, and creative outlet is a very positive development. 

As a scientist by training with a PhD in physics and as an aerospace engineer by profession, I can say with conviction that the arts are a basic skill for business, technology, and science. 

Text and speech are linear-string narrow-band modes of communication. The arts combine communication and thinking into two and three dimensions with time as a dynamic variable, bringing clarity to otherwise obscure concepts. 

Making things with the hands – paintings, ceramics, sculptures, stage sets – and activities such as shop classes of all sorts and home hobbies that build things from scratch develop tactile awareness and thinking and exercise critical thinking as problems involving cause and effect are confronted. 

These skills are essential for personal success and society’s progress.

William H. Cutler

Union City, Calif.

Gun violence

Regarding the Sept. 5 cover story, “Targeting gun suicides”: Thank you for publicizing the little-known fact that almost two-thirds of gun deaths are the result of suicide. 

It is appalling that, as you report, “every week [in the United States], 400 people use a gun to take their own lives.” 

Would this tragedy be tolerated if it were caused by anything else? 

For decades, data have revealed that those who die in firearm-related incidents are more likely to have been killed by their own hand, or by friends or family, than by strangers.   

This counters the contention that we need to be armed to protect ourselves from thieves, gang members, and terrorists. Your article is an evenhanded effort to address this national problem.

Charles Lindahl

Fullerton, Calif.

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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.”

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