Issue 452 | Correspondence | The Sun Magazine


I was just about to let my subscription expire. I’d decided to conserve paper and save money by reading the last four years’ worth of Suns over again, one per month. Then your June 2013 issue arrived, and the first piece I read was Poe Ballantine’s essay “The Tyranny of Paradise.” It really stabbed my heart. The rest of that issue, from Leath Tonino’s interview with John Elder [“The Undiscovered Country”] to Readers Write, spoke to me as only The Sun can — with a rare depth. I walked the renewal card to the mailbox and flipped the flag up.

I look forward to the next twelve issues.

Cathy Kigerl Quilcene, Washington

When the new issue of The Sun arrives, my husband and I open to the Readers Write section and take turns reading the entries out loud, often crying together over someone’s suffering, loss, or illness. We sobbed through much of the June Readers Write on “Skin,” having forgotten just how sad and painful racism is.

Diana Marie Renison Olympia, Washington

I must take exception to the letter in the June 2013 Correspondence from someone called “Raven” who would not renew his or her subscription because of occasional essays by Sparrow.

I have to say I like Sparrow and am always glad to see him in The Sun. His writing is humorous and thought provoking.

I don’t enjoy every essay or story in The Sun equally, but I appreciate the diversity of voices, styles, and perspectives. I would never discontinue my subscription because of one writer’s contribution.

You can sign me:


I want to thank Marion Winik for these words in her essay “The Most Beautiful Raynovich” [June 2013]: “A mother who loses her child is never the same person again. It is grievous, but it is as nonnegotiable as the death itself. Unlike the death, this fact makes sense. It is what you would expect.”

I read her piece last night while sitting in a rocking chair on the deck on a chilly evening. This morning I looked at a photo of my daughter, forever young, even though it’s been twenty years since she died.

Linda Henry White Bear Lake, Minnesota

In the June 2013 Correspondence Joanne Ehret says, “We should all adopt a completely plant-based diet in order to slow climate change.” While it may be possible for some people to live healthily on a vegan diet — at least for a while — for others, like me, it would be a death sentence.

To get enough protein and essential amino acids, vegans must eat both grains and beans. For as many as 40 percent of people, whether they know it or not, eating grains and beans causes damage to the small intestine known as “leaky-gut syndrome,” which is linked to the whole spectrum of autoimmune diseases: multiple sclerosis, lupus, arthritis, hardening of the arteries, mood disorders, and more.

Human beings evolved to eat a diet of meat, roots, leafy vegetables, and fruits. Grains and beans as we know them were created through seed selection over the past ten thousand years — the blink of an eye in evolutionary terms. Dietary changes have outpaced our ability to adapt.

We may deplore modern industrial meat production and its concomitant animal suffering, but no sustainable system of organic agriculture has ever existed without animals as part of the farm ecology. The touted health benefits of a vegan diet are the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables, not of eating less meat. The animal-fat theory of heart disease has turned out to be unsupported by the evidence; animal fat is good for you, if you don’t feed the animals grains and beans.

I sympathize with the philosophy of nonviolence, but the human body is not sustained by philosophy. Even Gandhi had to have his goat’s milk every day.

Kim Bonsteel Highlands, North Carolina

Anna Blackshaw’s interview with Ai-jen Poo on the plight of domestic workers [“Swept Under The Rug,” May 2013] was shocking and sad. This deplorable situation needs more attention from the media. At the very least, a copy of this interview should be sent to every congressional representative. Poo’s efforts on behalf of these women should not go unnoticed.

Joseph Costantino Barnegat, New Jersey

I was heartened to learn of Ai-jen Poo’s work organizing domestic workers, but I was disappointed that she seemed to accept the need for many people in the U.S. to hire someone else to take care of their children or elderly parents. I think the current demand for nannies and caregivers is far greater than it would be if we had (1) higher employment and shorter workweeks, (2) more equality of income and a larger social safety net, and (3) more trusting, inclusive, interdependent communities. With the right financial, cultural, and social encouragement, we could see a return to families taking responsibility for care of their loved ones.

Organizing workers is great, but I would prefer a society that provides other jobs for people and lets us care for our own family members, as humans have for most of their history.

Ira Woodward Burien, Washington

Thank you for printing the interview with Ai-jen Poo. A few years ago I worked for a cleaning company at minimum wage. On an average day our three-person crew could expect to clean four houses.

One client, an eighty-eight-year-old woman, invited us to sit at her table and insisted on feeding us breakfast before we cleaned her house. Another, a doctor’s wife, gave me a dirty look for running over a fresh pile of dog excrement with the sweeper in her formal living room. “I usually let that sit until it gets hard,” she said. “It’s easier to pick up.” I disposed of four piles before I started to vacuum.

At Christmastime most of our clients gave us gift cards or cash, but a few wealthy business owners offered nothing, as did our boss. We received no paid sick days, vacation days, or holidays. We used our personal vehicles to get to clients’ houses. We were paid for mileage but not for travel time, or for the fifteen minutes it took to load our cars in the morning and the twenty minutes it took to unload and launder rags for the next day. Our boss collected at least thirty-five free minutes from each of us every day.

Finally I stood next to the hot tub at our employer’s country home and tried to negotiate an extra half-hour’s pay for myself and my friends who were afraid to speak up. Our boss said he would have liked to pay us, but the other employees came in early willingly (not true), and he was already making no profit with all his expenses. From where I stood, I could see three new cars in his driveway.

After a couple of years I took my sore hands, back, knees, and shoulders and left. I was making eight dollars an hour when I quit. My current job isn’t much better.

To those who think unions are a negative force in society: come work beside me and get a clue.

Jackie Allison Johnstown, Pennsylvania

I was shocked to find the May 2013 Correspondence section devoted to scathing condemnations of the interview with Rupert Sheldrake. [“Wrong Turn,” by Mark Leviton, February 2013]. The outrage and vitriol expressed by those who found his ideas offensive were the sort of responses I would expect from religious zealots whose cherished dogma has been threatened.

Jenny Boettiger Bellevue, Washington

I guess I should have expected the loud outcry of indignation that the Rupert Sheldrake interview triggered. Dogmatic, materialistic science is currently the most sacred cow of all, at least among the educated sector of American society.

I found the interview to be intelligent, hopeful, and thought provoking, and I would personally be unhappy if The Sun were to abandon its “troubling inclination toward antirationalist, spiritualist nonsense,” as one of your readers put it. We need thinkers like Sheldrake to free us from our rigid notions about reality and to remind us to enjoy the fact that we don’t know everything and never will.

Lee Pope Grass Valley, California

I felt a sudden wave of emotion reading Brian Doyle’s essay “Mister Kim” [May 2013]. The man of the title reminded me of a shop owner in the small town I grew up in — and couldn’t wait to get out of — thirty-one years ago. As a teenager I delivered a newspaper every day to that exasperating, hard-to-please little man. Without fail he was my biggest tipper.

Jim Imholte Glendale, Arizona

In your April 2013 Correspondence S. Reid Warren III bemoans the lack of a U.S. Peace Department. There actually is one. Legislation passed in 1984 established the U.S. Institute of Peace ( Perhaps if it could swap budgets with the Pentagon, it would be more widely known and effective.

Bruce Parker Portland, Oregon
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