Readers write: Connecting with others, despite deep divisions

Letters to the editor for the March 21, 2022 weekly magazine. Readers highlight the power of civility, calligraphy, and hand-written letters. 

Out of division ... civility?

At the Monitor Breakfast on Feb. 3, bipartisan pollsters presented the results of their latest nationwide Battleground Civility Poll. They reported that on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 meaning no division and 100 “the edge of civil war,” the average respondent rated the level of political division in the United States at a disturbingly high 70.6. And they noted that Republicans deeply valued individual freedom, while Democrats cherished responsibility and respect.  

As I read the Feb. 28 commentary “Amid deep division, pollsters also see optimism,” it was very clear to me that each party has attached itself to a fundamental truth integral to our country’s founding and continued success. For centuries, Lady Liberty has welcomed millions of immigrants fleeing persecution, often risking their lives in the hope of finding freedom on our shores. And if democracy, which enables us to realize our individual liberty, is to continue flourishing, we must exercise that freedom responsibly, with respect for others and concern for the well-being of our communities.  

The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote of the unity of seeming opposites, suggesting that out of the dynamic tension between them came a harmonious and high functioning ecology. In nearly 40 years of marriage, if my wife and I find ourselves on the edge of a not-so-civil war, it’s because each of us has stubbornly attached to a seemingly opposite and irreconcilable point of view. However, when we genuinely consider and recognize each other’s truth, the conflict dissolves, and we move forward together toward a more perfect union.  

Marriage is a crucible, and so is America’s democratic experiment. For every proverbial step we’ve slipped back, we’ve taken two steps forward, and we can do this again. That said, we must learn to listen respectfully to, and recognize, each other’s truths, building on them together toward that more perfect union.

Loren Bloch
Santa Monica, California

Calligraphy kudos

As someone who appreciates original art, I was quite taken by the Feb. 21 article “Amman museum celebrates lost art of storefront signage,” about calligrapher Ghazi Khattab. 

Unquestionably, Arabic calligraphy is an art form. Though I’m not familiar with calligraphy, I have humbly dabbled with pen and ink. It’s simply impossible to describe the finality, once that pen touches the surface. There are no redos!

Mr. Khattab combines skill and original thought, and most importantly, he teaches other artists by collecting and displaying those historical signs. 

Good job, Mr. Khattab!

Fred Nack
Globe, Arizona

The warmth of a letter

What a delightful and joyful way to communicate with our elder population in the Feb. 14 article “Jacob Cramer connects elders with a written embrace.” What individual does not appreciate a letter written just for them? Handwritten letters are beginning to be a lost art. I applaud this movement and hope more people can participate. 

I always loved getting letters from my parents after I left home and enjoyed sitting down to write to them as well. Yes, we talked via phone, but there is something so special about writing a letter that just warms one all over. I still have letters saved from my family, including my children. Thank you for this wonderful, caring article.

Sue Carol Helten
Douglass, Kansas

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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”:

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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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