Readers write: The value of ‘puttering’ and people-to-people diplomacy

Letters to the editor for the Nov. 19, 2018 weekly magazine.

The value of ‘puttering’

I loved Robert Klose’s Oct. 8 Home Forum essay, “I sing in praise of puttering,” especially the meaning of putting the world to rights in our “little sphere.” Me, too! My father was an inveterate putterer, all the more remarkable because he was an extremely selfless and capable medical doctor and surgeon, helping the impoverished folk in the north and Midlands of England, often with a payment of gratitude such as a cake. (Ho-hum! The days of pre-National Health Service.) Much to the disapproval of his business-minded father, he gained his qualifications studying at night under the bedclothes with a flashlight and two brothers, he being one of 12 siblings.

I’ve loved the Home Forum page for 60 years. It is always lifting thought, especially the essay. 

Jacqueline Cohen

London

People-to-people diplomacy

Thank you for the heartwarming Oct. 22 People Making a Difference article about Sharon Tennison’s dedicated work to advance peaceful cooperation between Russia and the United States. In 1990, I spent my two-week vacation on a Russian cruise ship touring down the Volga River, stopping at ancient villages and cities from Moscow to Yaroslavl along the way. At each stop, a friendly Russian tour guide greeted us with excellent English and showed us points of interest.

The Russian people expressed warmth and friendliness at every turn. When the ship returned to Moscow, it docked at a marina next to another cruise ship carrying all Russian passengers. They stood at the ship’s railing and sang to us. They reached across to touch hands with us, even throwing kisses.

The then-President Mikhail Gorbachev had recently declared perestroika and glasnost in Russia. Part of those initiatives was to open up the country to tourists. I agree with Ms. Tennison that peace can more readily be achieved through people-to-people diplomacy, coming from the bottom rather than the top.

Mary Joy Breton

St. Paul, Minn.

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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.