Readers write: Please and thank you, and objectivity in Venezuela

Jacob Turcotte/Staff
See what our readers discussed in the Sept. 30 issue of the Monitor Weekly.

Please and thank you

Regarding the “In a Word” column “The role of ‘you’re welcome’ in polite society” from the Sept. 2 Monitor Weekly: I found this article to be an interesting piece on the meaning and value of the phrase “you’re welcome.” For me, it conveys “I am happy if I have been of help.” My millennial daughter and I differ on whether saying “no problem” is a real equivalent to “you’re welcome.” She says that to her generation, it’s simply another way of expressing the same idea.

But every time someone says “no problem” to me, I silently wonder this: If it had been a real “problem” – if the issue had required any real expense of energy to resolve – would the person simply not have bothered to do so? A nuanced but important difference, or so it seems to me. That said, while sticking to my preferred usage, I try to bear in mind my daughter’s perspective each time I hear “no problem” in response to my expression of thanks.

Why We Wrote This

Letters to the editor for the September 30, 2019 weekly magazine.

Pamela Wiggin
Ottawa, Ontario

Melissa Mohr’s article “The role of ‘you’re welcome’ in polite society” reminded me of a French-speaking student’s confusion over the more informal equivalent of that phrase. 

Some years ago in my English class, the student erupted, “Americans are rude!” In halting English, he conveyed that he had just been at a gas station. As he left, he thanked the attendant, who shouted “You bet!” in response. In his head, the student had translated the English “bet” to the French word bête, meaning stupid.

I hope Ms. Mohr will continue to enlighten Monitor readers about these puzzling phrases that have become automatic responses in our social exchanges.

Colleen McGovern
Englewood, Colorado

Objectivity in Venezuela

As a subscriber to the Monitor for more than 30 years, I often brag about what I get from reading it. I want to believe that its editorial staff works hard to be objective and find journalists who are on the ground in the countries they are writing about. 

However, I feel that the Aug. 12 Weekly article “Six months of fading promises, but Venezuela’s Guaidó hangs on” shows no attempt to be neutral. There are few, if any, interviews with Nicolás Maduro supporters. It seems as though the author writes from the position that Juan Guaidó is the de facto leader of Venezuela.

Alice Kitchen
Kansas City, Missouri

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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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