Readers write: Russian history, politics and science, work of art

Letters to the editor for the March 13, 2017 weekly magazine.

Reuters
U.S. President Bill Clinton wipes away tears of laughter as he leans on Russian President Boris Yeltsin after a remark by Yeltsin during a joint press conference following their talks in Hyde Park, New York, on Oct. 23, 1995.

Russian history

Bravo to Fred Weir for detailing how the United States covertly influenced the reelection of Boris Yeltsin in 1996 in his Jan. 30 OneWeek article, “Why Russians have soured on US.” The irony is sharp in light of today’s hot issue of Russian interference in the US election, and the article is a potent reminder that abuse of power wears no single political party ID. Also, it reminds us that issues of political contention are complex beyond our imagining.

Lynn Mather

Philadelphia

Politics and science

The Monitor showed its well-known balance in covering the issue of climate control in the Feb. 13 Focus story, “For scientists, this time feels different.” There is, however, a deeper issue that underpins this story – the use of scientific methods in dealing with a broad range of national challenges. Demand for rigorous proof and documented validity is a way of life in the scientific world. A candidate stating that he uses “scientific thinking” might sound a bit pompous for general consumption, but there is a rough alternative that might work: “problem-solving.” Objective, non-ideological problem-solving might help stem the current temptation toward “fact-free” debate. Improving the dialogue between the traditional science community and the general public is one of the great imperatives of our time, and on this score, we scientists are currently woefully unprepared.

Dr. Allan Hauer

Corrales, N.M.

Work of art

Regarding Robert Klose’s Jan. 30 Home Forum essay, “How I stumbled upon a work of art in Greenland”: I always enjoy his pieces, but this one especially so. I did not notice the note at the bottom and simply turned the page and so was totally blown away to see the art he had written about. Fine art indeed! Thank you so very much.

Margaret Wylie

Eastampton, N.J.

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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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