Readers write: Keen observations, all that plastic, and more

Letters to the editor for the Oct. 19, 2020 weekly magazine. Readers discuss local recycling efforts, the ethics of hunting elk, and more.


Keen observations

I am writing to express my appreciation for correspondent and columnist Ned Temko. His astute “Global Perspectives” column and his contributions to the “Navigating Uncertainty” series of articles have been very insightful.

Mr. Temko’s seasoned understanding reminds me of my favorite Monitor columnist, Joseph C. Harsch, whose weekly column taught me the basics of geopolitical analysis during the twilight of the Cold War.

Mr. Temko continues in that excellent tradition, perceptively explaining the geopolitics of this brave new world. Thank you for including his keen observations in the Monitor.

Larry Dean
Brownstown, Michigan

All that plastic

Despite often wondering about the destination and municipal profits of the items we recycle, I have never researched the answers. Doug Struck’s article in the Aug. 31 Monitor Weekly regarding the state of recycling in New England and the U.S., titled “Is recycling broken? Don’t toss it out yet, say insiders,” is both informative and motivating. 

The update on the fluctuating economies of recycling in our state of Maine and of new incentive programs elsewhere makes me want to get more involved beyond our current “household routine” of 40 years, which consists of recycling paper, metal, plastic, and glass at our local transfer station on the Boothbay Peninsula of Maine. 

As Mr. Struck points out (in the practical and inspirational style of the Monitor), the challenges of China’s 2018 ban on receiving America’s recyclables provide great opportunities for more individuals and municipalities to carry the recycling habit forward while still earning profits.

Margot Stiassni
Edgecomb, Maine

Elk populations

As a decadeslong reader of the Monitor, I appreciate the diversity of topics covered – I feel informed about subjects of which I would know nothing otherwise. This includes the Points of Progress feature. 

However, one of the points in the July 27 Monitor Weekly only seemed to me to be partially “progressive.” It reported that in Kentucky the elk population has greatly increased. At first glance, this seemed good to me, until I read that this also creates an emerging elk market, which includes the hunting and killing of elk. 

It doesn’t feel right to try to increase the elk population so some of them can be made available to be killed by hunters for sport or game. Is this really progress? Sightseeing, yes, but killing, no. At least not in my view.

Elisabeth Seaman
Mountain View, California

Creative mother

Regarding The Home Forum essay “Heeding her invitation, six decades later” by David C. Holzman in the Aug. 10 Monitor Weekly: This unique belated tribute to a one-of-a-kind imaginative mother remains in my mind and makes me wonder why we could not indulge our funny humanity in her creative ways. Mr. Holzman deserves a thousand accolades for giving us this memorable story. Thank you.

Mary Rose Hoffman
Palm Coast, Florida

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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

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