Readers write: From bear safety to the meaning of citizenship

Letters to the editor for the Oct. 3, 2022 weekly magazine. Readers express concern about encouraging coexistence with bears and wonder about pathways toward civic engagement.

Bear champion

I’ve been twice to take the course with Lynn Rogers, profiled in the Sept. 12 & 19 cover story, “A walk with a defiant champion of bears.” It was an experience of a lifetime. I have been following and supporting him and his research for 12 years. Dr. Rogers is one of the heroes in the world of nature. Thank you for all you do.

Janice W. Dahl
North Falmouth, Massachusetts

Words of caution

Thank you for your good work – fair reporting, excellent writing. However, the man featured and the idea of close coexistence highlighted in the Sept. 12 & 19 cover story, “A walk with a defiant champion of bears,” are irresponsible.

I am a pastor, now retired. In 2003, I conducted the memorial service for Amie Huguenard who, along with her boyfriend, bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell, were killed and eaten by a Kodiak bear. They deliberately set their camp in the middle of the bears’ habitual pathway. Amie’s mother was a devoted member of our church. The rest of her life she grieved her daughter’s brutal death. 

Any encouragement to the general public to get close to bears, even the black bears described in the story, is irresponsible. I fear for your readers on this one. Thank you for your kind consideration of my feedback. Again, I have long appreciated the Monitor and thank you for your work.

David Byrum
Yorktown, Indiana

Can we awaken citizenship?

The Sept. 5 perspective “Rushdie assault: Intolerance undermines democracy” is important commentary for us all. There are opponents to this or that everywhere today, but there are too few clearly expressed, hopeful views for our betterment. When we oppose, we should be able and ready to clearly share our view of a better future and how we think we might reach that future.

The article flatly states that we must be willing to listen to “the other,” which implies that another must be willing to listen to us as well. That is also our responsibility as citizens who still value principles of democracy as core to a durable government.

This kind of government will not function on autopilot, simply left to politicians to somehow divine our will, when a solid majority of us have checked out, surrendering our citizenship. Look at rates of voter participation nationwide or go to city council meetings in most cities and towns in America today to gauge our collective civic connection. We too often complain and place blame when among friends and close associates, but we seldom see progress from those in government who represent us, having given up on any such possibility and surrendered our power and responsibility as individual citizens.

What are the hopeful pathways to awakening our American citizenship that might be explored?

Steven Miller
Coos Bay, Oregon

Tackling terrorism

I was touched to tears when I read about Zannah Mustapha’s schools in the Aug. 22 article “The Nigerian school with a radical idea: Teaching Boko Haram’s kids.” When I read about terrorism, I pray for the best but shake my head about what can be done. Here is someone tackling the issue against all odds and welcoming those some consider the enemy. We need to take note.

I simply can’t imagine wrestling with the guilt of Fatima as a 6-year-old! What a weight on her shoulders, and what a relief to obtain that education she needs. What a difference Mr. Mustapha is making! These articles are an inspiration.

Christine Matthews
Washington, D.C.

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