Readers write: Prairie community, the real Baltimore, and companies and profit

Cathy Bussewit/AP
See what our readers discussed in the Sept. 16 issue of the Monitor Weekly.

Prairie community

The “From the Editor” column in the July 29 Monitor Weekly, “The new frontier of rural America,” touched deep places. Ours is a time when enjoyable, engrossing, convenient, and lifesaving things are abundant at an unprecedented level. We are caught and held by them. We find ourselves longing to belong to ... what? 

Something grander, fuller, more enduring. Mark Sappenfield named some in his column: vocation, family, faith, community. He could have added nation, too. Of all these, I find community the most worthy.

Why We Wrote This

Letters to the editor for the September 16, 2019 weekly magazine.

I think of the concept of community as more than a bunch of people collected in a space you can give a name and geocode. Community, to me, is a group of people conscious of their daily relationships and common tomorrows. They’re aware that their relatedness has its foundations in a real place, a landscape as inescapably creative as the human community nestled within and dependent on it. 

By themselves, collections of people are transient: Witness the comings and goings of prairie towns in the last three centuries. Emplaced in a landscape, the land and people weave a timeless story of change that invents life and lives.

Bob Weeden
Salt Spring Island, British Columbia

The real Baltimore

As a longtime subscriber to the Monitor, I know that any article that includes photos by Melanie Stetson Freeman will be a treat. The June 17 cover story, “Saving city forests,” is enriched immensely by the colorful and calming photos of verdant corners of Baltimore. I have never visited the city, but the article made me appreciate it.

On July 27, President Donald Trump attacked Rep. Elijah Cummings on Twitter and insulted an innocent bystander in the process: Mr. Cummings’ city of Baltimore. Because of Stephanie Hanes’ thoughtful article and Ms. Stetson Freeman’s pictures, I can see clearly that Mr. Trump’s despairing vision doesn’t match the reality.

Rusty Wyrick
Ghivizzano, Italy

Companies and profit

Regarding the editorial “Why companies redefine progress” in the Sept. 2 Monitor Weekly: Companies certainly need to be aware of and concerned about the entire community of interests in which they participate. 

However, in a free society, I believe that the only means of ensuring that scarce resources are allocated to meet our greatest demands is to maximize profits. That’s not the same as maximizing prices, and is determined entirely by consumer action.

Art Gardner
Goleta, California

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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.

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