Tracy Frisch’s interview with Les Leopold [“An Embarrassment of Riches,” May 2018] is a cogent and compelling account of inequality in America: of wealth, education, healthcare, and livable environments. It’s a shame that our nation, once admired around the world, has devolved into divisiveness and disregard for the welfare of those less fortunate. Judging by the track record of our elected representatives, we shouldn’t expect a fix to inequality anytime soon.
Les Leopold does not mention the main obstacle to political action against corporate America: that very few Americans have a pension anymore, except the grossly inadequate one from Social Security. What they have instead are investments in mutual funds made up of corporate stocks, to which they and their employers contribute: the 401(k).
Apart from students, most people involved in activism or volunteer service are relatively secure retirees. (Others are too busy working and do not have the time or the energy.) And these retirees are mostly dependent on their 401(k)s.
By promoting the 401(k) to protect retirees, corporate America has cleverly entrenched itself. How can we encourage people to fight the corporate system when their retirement security is dependent upon the price of stock?
With a job and two small children demanding most of my time, I often get around to reading only one thing in The Sun: Readers Write. Despite how I look forward to those pieces, I let our subscription expire because we’re digging out from under a significant amount of debt.
How apropos that the May 2018 topic was “Being Broke.” More than one entry had me in tears or nodding in solidarity. After I was done, it took me about a minute to renew.
This morning I went hunting through Leath Tonino’s interview with Michael Soule [“We Only Protect What We Love,” April 2018] for a line that had stuck with me: “I was looking at the shells of land snails and wondering about their components. Where had that calcium traveled, and what shapes had it taken over the course of geologic history? It possibly had been in the bones of dinosaurs, in the teeth of mastodons. . . .” I wrote the passage down but left out a letter, thereby changing the first word of the last sentence: “I possibly had been in the bones of dinosaurs, in the teeth of mastodons.”
I hadn’t thought of it that way. It felt like exactly what Soule was getting at.
I knew Michael Soule when we both worked in the environmental-studies program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The interdisciplinary faculty there predicted dilemmas and threats that now, several decades later, have become widely recognized. Central among them is financial investment in activities that do environmental damage. The worst of these investments are in industries that facilitate and prepare for war.
There is an elephant in the room. We deny it at our peril.
I appreciate Michael Soule’s work to protect the environment but am concerned about the frequency with which he makes hyperbolic statements.
Soule’s mentor at Stanford, Paul Ehrlich, is well known for having made dire predictions about the future that have not come to pass. Perhaps those dark forecasts helped spur initiatives that proved Ehrlich wrong, but such pessimism often promotes a focus on self-interest. If we believe things can’t get better, many of us just double down on looking out for ourselves.
It’s absolutely possible to create sustainable and humane energy, food, production, and other systems. Many people are successfully working toward these goals. Within a decade or two, for instance, cultured animal cells may well end the cruelty, habitat destruction, and pollution that our animal agriculture system has wrought.
Soule says he hopes for “a catastrophe.” What a sad conclusion, especially when there are practical and effective means for protecting our planet and solving our problems. We must focus on educating a generation able to solve the challenges before us. As Oberlin professor David Orr wrote, “Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up.”
Rafe Martin’s allegory “The Brave Little Parrot” [Dog-Eared Page, April 2018] is just the message of hope and determination that I needed after reading the news this morning.
I read Laura Freudig’s story “Mother and Child” [April 2018] while nursing my three-week-old daughter at two in the morning. I was in pain from having had a C-section, exhausted from nearly constant breast-feeding, and emotionally raw from hormonal changes. Being a new mom has challenged me in more ways than I ever imagined. Freudig’s story is one of the few that dares to tell the truth about just how difficult motherhood can be.
My daughter is almost two months old now, and I bask in the smiles and coos she is beginning to share with me, but the days can still be long and hard in the most mundane ways. I appreciate that Freudig’s story conveys the more painful facets of the love between mother and child.
Mick Cochrane’s love for his sister Sue is evident in his essay “Last Lecture” [March 2018]. After finishing it, I spent two hours reading Sue’s blog. (I was happy to see a new entry in response to all the mail she has received because of the essay.) Sue’s message of unconditional love is stirring. Her writing on “Love and the Law” can be a model for me, a medical social worker, to bring more love into medicine.
Mick Cochrane’s “four stories from [the] heart” were gripping and touching. Stories are the best way to talk about what matters. Not answers, not moralisms, not absolutes, not theological nonsense — stories.
Over the years I have gone between adoring and rolling my eyes at Sparrow’s contributions. His essay “Goodbye, Patriarchy!” [March 2018] had me smiling. All I could think after reading it was, It’s about darn time. More men need to acknowledge the damage patriarchy does to us all.
Y’all are ballsy. There’s no one else willing to take on the controversial subjects you do: rehab, sex, mental illness, racism, whatever. You allow people to speak their minds! Readers Write is always shocking and entertaining, and your stories and essays often have me drying my eyes. I’m in prison in Texas and have been reading for years. Thank you for being bold, daring, and different.
I read The Sun as I commute to work on the aging railway infrastructure that connects Connecticut to Manhattan. After I finish an issue, I leave it on the train seat, opened to the article I found to be the most profound. My hope is that one of the suited Wall Street workers, well-heeled WASPs, or just a weary traveler might pick it up and find surprise, solace, or challenge in its pages. It is my good deed of the day.