Readers write: National service programs for youth, and more

Letters to the editor for the June 22, 2020 weekly magazine. Readers discuss whether youth programs should be mandatory in America, and more.

Staff

Athletes in Somaliland

Regarding Ryan Lenora Brown’s cover story “Breaking the tape – and barriers” in the April 20 Monitor Weekly: I finally have to write in after years of reading every Monitor from cover to cover. This article really made my day!

The “From the Editor” column by Mark Sappenfield titled “Did you hear the one about the Monitor?” piqued my curiosity when I read the cover story described as “a rapture of agency and strength – the kind of story that strips away language, skin color, and religious differences to show the humanity we share.” 

And Ms. Brown’s article delivered on that promise. I laughed out loud when I read that Shukri Dahir, who is making sports available and accessible to girls and women, is a Zumba teacher – so am I! 

The Monitor is my favorite publication. Something I’ve read in a Monitor inevitably comes up in every conversation I have. Thank you for the quality of this magazine and the joy it brings to my life.

Bonnie Mitchell
Berkeley, California

Community service

Oh, how I enjoyed the cover story “Boosting national service” by Anna Mulrine Grobe in the June 8 Monitor Weekly. Over the years, I have given thought to this concept and the advantages that would result from “mission-oriented youth programs.”

As a retired educator, I can see how this type of program would be so beneficial on so many levels to our youth and our country’s future, as the article suggests. My favorite quote included in the article is from William James, who wrote in 1906 that “our gilded youths” should be “drafted off, according to their choice, to get the childishness knocked out of them, and to come back into society with healthier sympathies and soberer ideas.”

I fully agree with this and I, for one, would have also benefited tremendously if I had been able to participate in a youth program after high school graduation. Further in the article, the writer points out the high demand for “government-sponsored volunteer jobs” such as the Peace Corps, but notes that “expanding such programs is expensive. Convincing Congress to fund them, particularly given the cost of stimulus programs in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, will likely prove difficult.” 

I should hope that members of Congress would realize that increasing funding in these programs could ultimately save money, as youth learn job skills and life skills that they may not have learned otherwise. Thank you so much for this enlightening article.

Verlee G. Terwilliger
San Diego

Search for asylum

I applaud Whitney Eulich’s article “In Guatemala, agonizing choices for asylum-seekers” in the March 30 Monitor Weekly, which covered Central American asylum-seekers and the Asylum Cooperative Agreement. However, this narrative only addresses the results of violence in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. What about an in-depth look at the countries themselves? It would be interesting to see the Monitor reporting from one or all of these countries to see what is being done at the local level to alleviate issues including gang violence, extortion, and massacres.

Basil D. Georgiadis
Richmond, Virginia

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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.