Victoria Grostick finds it “curious” that I, a conservative, actually read The Sun [Correspondence, May 2004]. Does she think that only liberals can enjoy insightful writing? She seems pretty sure that the president is a liar. I am pretty sure there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Victoria Grostick implies that being a Bush supporter and a Sun reader are mutually exclusive traits. My politics are quite conservative, and I also love The Sun. Most of the time I feel kinship with its entire readership, but I am truly getting tired of this anti-Bush sentiment.
President Bush did not intend to deceive the American people. He simply told us what he was told by his advisors, some of whom lied to him. Nevertheless, we know Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction because he used them on his own people. The fact that the weapons cannot be found simply means they have been moved outside the country, possibly to Syria or Iran. The way the UN dragged its feet over the inspection process, it’s little wonder the weapons are nowhere to be found. The Iraqis had twelve years to move them.
I am tired of liberals branding Bush a “murderer.” Do they think that the Revolutionary War was fought entirely without civilian casualties? What about the Civil War, or World War I, or World War II? War is ugly, and it causes deaths, both of soldiers and of noncombatants. But this country might not exist today had we not participated in those wars. Some things are worth dying for. I happen to believe that freedom is one of them.
I’ve always thought it funny that The Sun would publish so many letters from readers expressing annoyance at what they found in its pages. I’ve always loved The Sun precisely for those annoyances. The magazine’s acceptance of all facets of existence has broadened the bounds of my world and given me hope, at fifty-five, of someday reaching adulthood.
People who see war as a path to peace and wealth as a basis for building community absolutely terrify me. But a large part of The Sun’s appeal for me is that it’s read by both people like myself and someone who would describe George W. Bush as eloquent.
I empathized as I read Ann Bauer’s “The Drunkard’s Gait” [April 2004], but I disagreed with her insistence that “alcohol is not the problem.” Her wondering why her alcoholic husband remained symptomatic with no ongoing treatment is akin to wondering why a diabetic gets sick when he doesn’t monitor his blood sugar. The sad truth is, most of us alcoholics don’t get the treatment we need.
I winced when Bauer “ordered a Corona and tried to drink at least half of it” in an effort to show her potentially-at-risk kids that “it’s not the alcohol.” I spent the first forty years of my life trying to prove that it’s not the alcohol — this after my father, my grandfather, and four aunts and uncles died from this affliction. Alcoholism is a family disease. It is the alcohol, and the alcoholism.
Bruce Holland Rogers’ short story “Tiny Bells” [April 2004] had a profound impact on me. When I first read it, I had to put the magazine down to let it settle in. Then I read it again. I read it aloud, to myself and to my partner. I shared it with some of my friends via e-mail. Last week I told the story in my own words to my Toastmasters Club, and the audience was equally enthralled by it. Even after reading the story dozens of times, I still get a chill as I reach the end. The images are vivid, and the emotions are universal. It is a superb story, especially in this time of American empire.
I subscribe to six newspapers a day and twice that many magazines, including The Sun.
I have been meaning to cut back on magazine subscriptions and was considering canceling my subscription to The Sun. Then I received my April issue and turned to Readers Write, on “Out of Reach.” The first piece, by Pamela J. Martin of Dallas, Texas, brought tears to my eyes. I was moved by the enormous caring those sisters felt toward their aunt, their mother, and their grandmother.
I will not for another moment think of canceling my subscription.
Martin Fishman’s photograph on the March 2004 cover of The Sun beautifully captures the apprehension in the eyes of a youthful antiwar protester. The “no war” slogan on her headband proves to me that the teachings of Leo Tolstoy, Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas K. Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, and Jesus continue to inspire young people today. Perhaps she is apprehensive about what’s happening in her immediate vicinity, but her apprehension would not be misplaced in response to the deceitfulness, greed, and egotism of our nation’s rulers.
Like David Budbill [“Weapons in the War for Human Kindness,” interview by Diana Schmitt, March 2004], I have begun to see as equally important the roles of “rural recluse” and “urban activist.” But I felt angry when he referred to the most recent antiwar movement as a failure.
As a teacher, I saw 450 middle-school students organize a walkout against the war in Iraq. I protested the war in my own city, along with almost thirteen thousand others. The total number of protesters around the world was in the millions. I don’t think we can ever measure the power of our actions, just as Budbill can’t measure the power of his words. The anti-war movement has not failed, and the war in Iraq is not over, either.
David Budbill responds:
I agree with Linda Jones that the antiwar movement is far from over. Because we failed last year to stop the invasion of Iraq, it is all the more important now that we persevere and work to end the atrocity which is this war.
In your March 2004 Readers Write on “Deception,” the piece by Shannon M. of Seattle, Washington, caught my eye. The “drunken father with no ethics” about whom she writes so bitterly was my father too.
My father suffered from the disease of alcoholism, and his own upbringing was the cause of much pain and heartache for him. He was a child actor — a victim of Hollywood, a town with a reputation for eating its young. He made friends quickly, and one of his greatest joys in life was helping people. I remember him, as an adult, making deal after deal sealed with a few drinks and a handshake. I’d plead with him to get it in writing. “No, no,” he’d say. “Paul’s a great guy. He would never screw me.” More often than not, months later, Paul — or Joe, or Kenny — would cut him out of the deal. My father would cover his hurt with rage, screaming, “It’s a tough world, and people are gonna screw you!” (I never once heard him say, “If you don’t screw them, they’ll screw you.”) Years of this, coupled with the alcohol abuse, caused him to start going on the offensive after someone had treated him poorly.
I am not denying that my father was a difficult man. We had our share of run-ins over the years. But he also helped me in any way he could. He helped all three of his children, whether they asked him to or not. To portray him as a lying, amoral drunk, as my sister did in her Readers Write piece, is one-sided and cruel. The last eight years of his life, he lived in a tiny trailer and saved up a hundred thousand dollars for his three children to split when he died.
My father died a year and a half ago, and his daughter, Shannon M., repaid his generosity with an unflattering eulogy in The Sun.
In your February 2004 Sunbeams, you quote Paul Simon: “One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.” I wonder if the same is true for those who live in penthouses. Their ceilings are no one’s floor.
Looking at the number of Sun subscribers by state in the January 2004 issue, I wondered how many other subscribers, like me, were not on the list.
I live in Australia and come from an anti-American family. My mother was once traveling from Mexico to Canada and went to great lengths to get a flight that didn’t touch down in the U.S. She didn’t want to set foot in the place.
I lived in the U.S. for a while nearly twenty years ago, and some of my friends and teachers are American. From a distance, though, the awful policies of your country loom large, and my attitude toward the place darkens. The Sun helps temper this attitude. It reminds me again that there are real, lovely people there.
I have been wondering for a while if there is something more to the feelings I have for my co-worker. If I leave those feelings just as they are, will I eventually sleep through the night, get through a day without thinking repeatedly of her eyes, her face — all the while carrying on with my “real” life as a husband, a father, and a responsible employee?
In the conclusion of her story “Telling You” [November 2003], Jasmine Skye calls it “the long unalterable distance between us.” Yes, that’s it exactly. There is a long unalterable distance between my co-worker and me. And yet there she is, in the office every day. Worse, it is obvious she has the same feelings for me.
Right now I am sitting in an airplane, returning from a business trip, aware of the coughing of my neighbor, the frequent commentary from the pilot on passing landmarks, the loud and careless way the flight attendant goes about her duties, the ceaseless fidgeting around me —and the constant pressure in my heart. I can’t avoid thinking about my co-worker, nor about the consequences of adultery.
I have decided to leave those feelings just as they are, and to trust in God.
I am getting tired of opening to The Sun’s Correspondence page nearly every month and finding more and more complaints from readers about the magazine’s content, style, contributors, and so on. Which is not to say that the magazine is without its faults. Often enough it has big ones. But it seems to me that the readers who complain are losing sight of the difference between constructive criticism and simply scrutinizing every detail. Sun readers, of all people, should know that the magazine is about recognizing the humanness within all of us, along with our faults.