Touched by Love
Seen all the new age spiritual crap. Sick of affirmations and fed up with polarized liberal positivity and so not expecting to like your magazine. Surprised and truly touched by the last issue. What more is there to say than this need for love, a true inner jihad? So wonderful to hear that message. May I begin to live it, may we all hear it. Thanks.
Vancouver, British Columbia
War Motive: Love, not Fear
As a loyal reader of YES! magazine, I cannot tell you how disappointed and appalled I am at your treatment of the terrorist attack on the United States. It is garbage, absolute garbage, to claim that it makes no sense to fight terrorism because a million other terrorists will take their place. By that logic, we shouldn't arrest people who blow up abortion clinics. We are not fighting lone, desperate “freedom fighters.” We are fighting a well-financed militia that wants to kill us. I am offended by your statement about the place “where fear rules, where the best questions are off limits.” You make it sound like anyone who believes that we must fight is ruled by fear. How dare you! Sometimes you have to fight to preserve what you love. If we did not fight and win World War II, I probably would not be here. My parents might have been killed in a gas chamber set up in New York City. Or maybe Hitler would have developed the A-bomb first and simply destroyed New York. Your writers constantly bring up their patriotism in defying the call to war, but I don't believe it. They seem to simply assume that America is the source of all evil. I will never again read Wendell Berry without thinking him a crank, and I will never again read David Korten without wondering what truth he's leaving out in order to advance his argument. You've lost credibility with me that you may never be able to retrieve.
New Market, Maryland
What Can I Do?
Reading YES! (Winter 2002) made me ask myself “What can I do?” in a new, challenging, confrontational way—congratulations!
Don't Waive the Flag
I read Sheldon Ito's editorial and found it distasteful and quite negative. Calling himself the “most dour and cantankerous” of his friends doesn't excuse him from committing the same politically incorrect mistakes he accuses the “white” (I would have to say Caucasian) man of making. And, dear me, are all displays of American flags (those gauntlets Mr. Ito finds himself so distastefully running) to be taken as full support of the “war”? How ridiculous! I can look at someone flying a flag pasted to their window and think, “they're honoring the WTC/Pentagon victims,” or “there's a veteran in that house who's worried about the future of our country.” Everyone who wears or flies a flag doesn't automatically support the war tribunals or the bombing, you know.
I loved Walter Wink's article, “Can Love Save the World?” (Winter 2002) and agree with all he says about pacifism and practicing nonviolent resistance, a sort of moral jujitsu like Christ advocated. I would add that pacifism also implies a way of life.
I live out in the country without a car or electricity, dependent on friends and neighbors but always ready to work in return for help. No insurance, no credit, no debt. Not necessarily an easy or secure way to live, but I have time to design and build things and dream. Almost all of my energy and resources support local people.
Subscriptions to your magazine are just about the only gifts I give. Thank you. Your publication is a gift to the world.
In Terms of Afghanistan
Your portrait of Afghanistan (Winter 2002) was striking in its impact.
However, I think you will find that the word “Afghani” refers to a coin of that country. The term for a person of the country is “Afghan” both as noun and adjective.
Penney Farms, Florida
May the Bitter End
The American assault on Afghanistan commencing October 7th is a predictable, simplistic, brutal reply to a gruesome and horrifying shock. Ultimately, this will lend more to our problem with terrorism than to its solution. We can never stop terrorists—even our countrymen—from killing Americans in what they believe is a just cause. We can, perhaps, stop littering our trail with so many “just causes.” Our long history of meddlesome, bullying foreign policy justified the acts of September 11 in the minds of their agents. To suppose that we can now quell such acts by more of the same is pure, perilous nonsense.
There is no end to vengeance. He who has the warmest corpse at his feet feels vindicated in taking the next life, and so it goes forever on, leaving
behind a spreading plague of death, misery, and hatred. We will break the cycle only when we say, “Enough! The killing stops with us. We will not
repay slaughter in kind.”
I don't know what you or I can do today for peace—perhaps ask an
Islamic brother or sister to dinner. I do know that if two-hundred-odd million Americans together cannot think of something better than loosing more bombs, compounding tragedy, and perpetuating bitterness, then we aren't the people I think we are.
Mr. Berry's article does a wonderful job of pointing out what I'm sure he did not wish to point out. War succeeds like nothing else. Peace, in fact, when one looks at history, is an intermittent condition. Mr. Berry's observations are excellent, but as a conservationist, he should look a little more carefully at his own body. Our bodies are in constant strife. Our immune system (defense department) is constantly seeking out invaders, those viral and bacterial terrorists who seek to take us over and cause us grievous bodily harm ... even death.
Mr. Berry is caught in the trap of his abstractions. Hoping that a
majority of people will create some sort of everlasting peace is just another utopian illusion.
Through Chapman's Eyes
Troy Chapman's article, “Through my Enemy's Eyes” (Winter 2002), is both an inspiration and a challenge, especially since I was also at Kinross
Correctional Facility for a short time. I have come to essentially identical conclusions through my own searching. My challenge is transcending the confusion, the conflict, and my pervasive sense of utter worthlessness and insignificance. I bow with admiration and respect to Mr. Chapman. May I one day walk as he now does—with courage, compassion, and peace.
Terror and SUVs
Our nation rests firmly on the terrifying notion that the accumulation of wealth is more important than life. This notion creates a daily grinding terror that kills many more people every year than were killed by the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001. For example, if US auto-mobile manufacturers valued life over money they would make increasing the gas mileage on US cars their highest priority. This would reduce our CO2 production, decreasing our contribution to global warming, and improving air quality, thereby reducing the incidence of asthma. (If you want to see a face of terror, witness someone in an acute asthma attack.) Sadly, the auto industry chooses instead to manufacture and aggressively market gas guzzling and polluting SUVs.
Sunnyside, New York
Sustaining the Poor
Regarding Guy Dauncey's article, “A Sustainable Energy Plan for the US” (Fall 2001), there is only one thing missing: help for the poor. For those who barely afford mortgages and rents, let alone expensive energy-efficient upgrades, what will happen when their energy bills go up because they can't afford the changes that would give them rebate breaks? They will freeze and may starve as well.
In addition to what Mr. Dauncey recommends, we need an economic assistance plan for those who wish to make energy-efficient improvements but cannot afford them. I think that people of all economic castes want to participate in a sustainable future. The poor must be remembered in any plans to achieve sustainable goals.
A Community Web
Richard Sclove's article (“Reclaiming Choice,” Fall 2001) decrying the
“cybernetic Wal-Mart effect” is a hyperbolic criticism of a tool he clearly does not understand. Choice is useful to people and society, but the argument that “wise communities will act to bolster their local economies against the Internet's encroachment” belies a profound misunderstanding of what the Internet can do. Using the Internet to serve local businesses and local customers can make a huge difference in the quality of our communities, and I suspect will turn out to be the Internet's most important economic effect. Let's not let our polemics close our eyes to the possibilities.
Anthony Signorellivia email