I read Alicia von Stamwitz’s interview with Parker Palmer [“If Only We Would Listen,” November 2012] during the last weeks of the 2012 presidential race. It was perfect timing for Palmer’s uplifting message about communicating despite disagreements.
Parker Palmer’s three depressions could be reframed as periods of deep awareness, not as a disease. Psychologist James Hillman reinterpreted depression as a place where insight can occur. Hillman writes, “Depression is essential to the tragic sense of life. It moistens the dry soul, and dries the wet. It brings refuge, limitation, focus, gravity, weight, and humble powerlessness. It reminds of death. The true revolution begins in the individual who can be true to his or her depression. . . . Depression lets you live down at the bottom. And to live down at the bottom means giving up the Christian thing about resurrection and coming out of it; ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’ No light fantasy; and then the depression at once becomes less dark. No hope, no despair. That message of hope only makes hopelessness darker. It’s the greatest instigator of the pharmaceutical industry ever!”
Prescription drugs for depression only mask symptoms that well up from deeply rooted primal patterns and archetypes. We should embrace depression without becoming it.
Give me a reason why you published Gillian Kendall’s “Easily Led” [November 2012]. Give me a reason for not canceling my subscription. Her essay is well written but trite, narcissistic, and vapid. The sex scenes are not the problem. The problem is simply the emptiness of it, eight pages of beautifully written nothingness — like the rainbow that reveals itself in the skin of a dead mackerel or a puddle of motor oil. If this is where The Sun is heading, then count me out.
What bothers me the most about Gillian Kendall’s “Easily Led” is that men like Nelson, who refuse to be monogamous, seem to have a special power over women. Many times I’ve wondered how these women can endure, much less enjoy, playing second fiddle to another.
It bothers me not only because I definitely do not have that power but also because, the few times I have had the opportunity to be unfaithful, I have denied myself the quick and easy pleasure because it doesn’t sit well with my conscience. The reward for my choice never comes, however. I write this alone in my house in the woods. Why am I perpetually single while less-ethical men seem to find love so easily and so frequently?
I love a good love story, and Gillian Kendall’s “Easily Led” is among the best I’ve read. That it’s a true story rather than fiction makes it even better. It reminds us that a love some would consider wrong can be even more right than the socially acceptable kind. Renegade love can feed our soul and transform our deepest self.
Gillian Kendall’s compassion, intellect, and brutal honesty give hope to those of us over fifty who also wish someday to reach our “wise old crone” stage of femininity. Her essay “Easily Led” delivered a double whammy: the knowledge that most of us spend our lives trying to re-create our first great love; and that, even thirty-five years and thirty pounds later, we are still capable of the miraculous psychosis known as “the real thing.”
The Sun is a great magazine. I read each issue cover to cover and am, for a few hours, taken away from this prison. You’ve taught me a lot. I just wish I had found you sooner. Seven years ago, if I’d had one quarter of the wisdom I’ve received from your magazine, I doubt I’d be in here today. There I was, learning about life the hard way, when all the lessons I needed were in your pages.
Never stop printing.
I’m not renewing my subscription. Though I love the personal writing, I hate the politics. I want to hear intensely personal individual truths, but I don’t want to be subjected to Sy Safransky’s — or anyone else’s — social, political, or economic views. It’s polarizing and poisoning. One of the rules of good writing is show, don’t tell. When The Sun shows, it’s moving. When it tells, it’s tiresome.
The Sun is brilliant. It brings compassion into my heart. Mostly I enjoy that the content is not sugarcoated.
As a recovering alcoholic who has lived with major depression all of her life, I feel less alone when I read The Sun. Each essay, photograph, story, or poem makes me feel more alive and connected to every other living thing.
The Sun owes an apology to David Krieger, Leslee Goodman, and our readers.
In our January 2013 issue we published an interview by Goodman titled “Indefensible: David Krieger on the Continuing Threat of Nuclear Weapons.” In it, Krieger is quoted as saying that the path to global security “can only be through unilateral nuclear disarmament.” He never said that. One of our editors made the error of inserting the word unilateral into Krieger’s statement. In foreign-policy circles, suggesting that one country abolish its nuclear arsenal while others maintain theirs is widely considered unrealistic and counterproductive. We thus misrepresented a central aspect of Krieger’s views.
The mistake didn’t get past Krieger, however. When we sent him the interview for a final review, he asked that we replace the word unilateral, which he’d never used, with total. We assured Krieger we would make that change. Then, regrettably, we neglected to do so.
I couldn’t be more chagrined at the careless way this was handled. In an effort to make amends, we’ve posted the full text of the corrected interview on our website (www.thesunmagazine.org/issues/445/indefensible). We are sending a reprinted version of the interview to hundreds of nuclear-disarmament activists, national-security experts, and others with whom Krieger has worked over the years. We’ll also provide copies for Krieger to distribute at upcoming conferences.
Accuracy matters to us. This is why each issue of the magazine is copy-edited, proofread, and fact-checked by multiple editors and proofreaders, and then scrutinized a final time before it goes to print. In this instance, the error got past all of us. (For the record, our veteran proofreader wasn’t available to work on this issue.) As The Sun’s editor and publisher, I bear ultimate responsibility for every word that appears in the magazine. I know what “unilateral nuclear disarmament” means but read right past it. I deeply regret my mistake.
Krieger was gracious and forgiving with us. I invited him to clarify his position for our readers, and he sent us the statement that appears below.
Editor and publisher
Raising awareness of the continuing threat of nuclear weapons has been my primary focus for three decades as cofounder and president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Neither I nor the foundation has ever called for unilateral nuclear disarmament. Thus, I was shocked to see myself quoted in The Sun as saying just that. What I said was “The path to security can only be through total nuclear disarmament.”
Why does it matter? Because to call for unilateral nuclear disarmament is to ask that one nation eliminate its arsenal, leaving itself vulnerable to other countries’ nuclear weapons. This is neither realistic nor politically feasible. It is also not sufficient. I do not ask any country to take such a risk. What I ask is for the countries of the world — particularly the nine that now have nuclear weapons — to engage in negotiations with the goal of total nuclear disarmament. I believe that the U.S. can lead the way, using its influence to bring other nations to the negotiating table, where together they might arrange for the phased, verifiable, irreversible, and transparent elimination of all nuclear weapons.
It is unlikely that the U.S. will initiate such negotiations, however, unless its citizenry demands it. We must awaken to the danger and organize to abolish nuclear weapons as though our very lives depend upon it — because they do. There are still some nineteen thousand nuclear weapons in the world, and the use of even a small number of them would have catastrophic consequences. Atmospheric scientists tell us that just one hundred Hiroshima-sized nuclear detonations in a war between India and Pakistan, for example, could lead to a global famine, causing hundreds of millions of deaths.
Unilateral nuclear disarmament is not what we seek at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. What we seek is a rational solution, and when it comes to nuclear weapons, the only rational number is zero. That means total nuclear disarmament. It is one of the overarching issues of our time, and your voice can make a difference. If you would like to play a role in securing a future free from the threat of nuclear annihilation, join us online at www.wagingpeace.org.
If you would like a copy of the corrected interview, please write to Molly Herboth at The Sun, 107 North Roberson Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address.