For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be strong and self-reliant. Maybe that’s why I’m no good at asking for help: it’s been hard for me to shake the idea that leaning on others is a sign of weakness. When I was an undergrad on a tight budget, I lost a contact lens in the bathroom I shared with four roommates, and instead of asking my parents for money to replace it, I stumbled around campus and squinted to see the blackboard with one eye. And when I was a sleep-deprived new mom, I kept insisting I was doing just fine — even when, one bleary-eyed morning, I caught myself dialing a friend’s phone number into my microwave.
I told myself I didn’t need help; I was completely independent. But of course that wasn’t the whole truth. How easy it was to imagine I was on my own in college because my parents were far away — working hard to pay my tuition. How vividly I recall nights I spent awake with my children, and how quickly I forget the days my husband cleaned the house and did laundry and brought me coffee in bed.
We proudly call The Sun independent when, in fact, this nonprofit magazine is utterly dependent on its readers to survive. Why? Because we choose to remain free from the influence of advertisers. It’s not that we’re against advertising per se. But ads simply don’t belong in certain places. The wilderness, for example. Or places of worship. Or a magazine as intimate and affecting as The Sun. Instead we fill this publication with what money can’t buy: Sincerity. Vulnerability. Forgiveness. Redemption. In other words, real humanity, which can’t be market-tested or mass-produced.
So much in the media causes us to feel outraged, alienated, or afraid. The Sun tells a different story — one about compassion, connection, and resilience.
If someone had told me, when I was an ambitious young journalism student, that one day I’d write letters like this asking strangers for help, I might have cringed, but I see things differently now. I’ve discovered that, though it makes for a more modest budget, our reliance on readers also fortifies The Sun in untold ways. People often tell us they respond viscerally to what we publish. Perhaps that’s because the heartfelt writing in our pages doesn’t compete with clever ads for your attention. Instead of distracting you with tempting offers, The Sun invites contemplation and understanding. When authors thank us for printing their most personal and provocative work, saying they can’t imagine sending it anywhere else, we feel enriched.
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