I’d forgotten what an inspiration Anne Frank’s diary [Dog-Eared Page, June 2019] was to me when I was about her age. I remember thinking how I could never have been as brave as she was, and being sad that she hadn’t survived. My mother gave me Frank’s book after I learned about the Holocaust in school, where they showed film footage of what the soldiers found during the liberation of the death camps. The shock of finding out what hatred and genocide really meant changed me forever.
I’m glad Doug Crandell was willing to subject himself and his family to the wrath of the vegans by telling the story of raising his 4-H steer [“Show Day,” June 2019]. It brought back memories of my first 4-H market lamb, Gertie.
The day after the auction, when the animals were separated for slaughter, the whole barn filled with the noise of kids and animals crying. I cried for Gertie, but I also realized that what really matters is not whether an animal is killed but what kind of life it got to lead.
Most of the livestock in this country live in misery. I was a vegetarian for thirty years because I didn’t want to be an accomplice to that crime. Now I have my own farm, where I raise sheep, pigs, and chickens. I try to save myself some pain by not naming the ones bound for the slaughterhouse, but I end up crying for them anyway.
I wish more people would spend the extra time and money to buy truly pasture-raised animal products. Then animals would have better lives, people would eat healthier food, and small farmers like me could actually make a profit.
It is rare to find pieces that are as thoughtful, hopeful, and well written as Kristopher Jansma’s story “The Samples” [June 2019]. I look forward to seeing more of his work in future issues.
In your June 2019 Correspondence, Denise E. defended Alcoholics Anonymous in response to critic Bruce K. Alexander [“Filling the Void,” interview by Jari Chevalier, March 2019]. But I have to agree with Alexander’s response: AA works for only a small minority, mostly because of the focus on a Higher Power. It works well for those who are religious or who want to be told what to do, but for agnostics and freethinkers, it can be difficult to swallow.
Like Denise I have been sober for more than thirty years. A growing secular movement delivers ample proof that a Higher Power is not necessary for recovery. Nonbelievers and others interested in secular AA recovery should check out aaagnostica.org.
I heartily agree with Ralph Nader that every time people say, “I can’t be bothered,” they contribute to the erosion of democratic society [“The Great Work,” interview by David Barsamian, May 2019].
I work in a public library. Though small, we offer extensive programming. Our patrons enjoy eating good food at cookbook club and discussing important issues in book club. Our children’s programs are well attended. I worked for months to present an Earth Day program. I wanted to teach how our choices have a huge impact: from the food we eat to the environment in which we raise our children. Though we received many “likes” and hundreds of shares on our Facebook page, only one person came to the program.
It was difficult to read David Barsamian’s interview with Ralph Nader, not because of what was said but because of who said it. Though I agree with Nader, I couldn’t help but remember that he was instrumental in helping George W. Bush get elected president: had Nader not been on the ballot in Florida, Al Gore would have won the state, taken office, and most likely never ordered the invasion of Iraq. Gore would also have led in the battle against climate change.
Yet Nader states he has no regrets. I take this to mean that, knowing what we know now, he would have run anyway. Rather than put a presidential spoiler on the ballot every four years, a viable third party should focus on local or statewide elections.
Unfortunately we saw key states go to Donald Trump in 2016 because of a third-party candidate. I wonder how a man who says the things Nader says can support third-party politics upending elections.
I am impressed with Ralph Nader’s lifelong service to society, but as someone who sees climate change as a top priority, I find his good work pales in comparison to the harm he caused in the 2000 presidential election.
Two points are undeniable: he had no chance of winning the election, and in a razor-thin race between a Texas oilman and one of the first major-party politicians to recognize the urgency of climate change, Nader swung the election to the former. This set the planet back considerably, which will cause the death and displacement of millions of people and the loss of thousands of species.
I appreciate Nader’s work on auto safety and many other things, but on balance, his reckless foray into presidential politics makes him an unmitigated disaster for humanity.
Ralph Nader responds:
Thomas Shostak and Aaron blame the Green Party for having delusions of power in the 2000 election. But exercising our First Amendment right to speak, assemble, and petition is in the tradition of America’s progressive third parties that first opposed slavery and demanded women’s right to vote, farmer and worker protections, and so on.
No, they say, shut up let the two parties drive our country deeper into militarism, imperialism, corporatism, and gerrymandering districts to favor one party. Gore, who won the popular vote, did not become president for a few reasons: the antiquated Electoral College; vote theft in Florida; 300,000 Florida Democrats voting for Bush; and the Supreme Court coup d’état by Scalia that stopped the recount. Absent any one of these, Gore would have been in the White House.
Moreover, was anything stopping the Democrats from adopting the Green Party’s proposals — living wage, full Medicare, fairer taxation, being tough on corporate crime — and thereby shrinking the small Green vote to a trickle? What prevented Congressional Democrats from blocking the Iraq War and the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, or taking vigorous action against climate disruption?
The two-party system should not be allowed to own all the voters. Those who want to stop the Democratic Party’s chronic scapegoating should work to revamp our voting system and abolish the Electoral College.
I can’t remember when I’ve read an essay as strangely moving as Jennifer Bowen Hicks’s “The Library” [May 2019]. It’s the kind of piece that you hate to finish, and consider rereading as soon as you do.
As I read Sparrow’s essay “My Book Life” [May 2019], I started making asterisks beside my favorite parts. Once I’d finished, I discovered that most of the paragraphs had asterisks.
Reading is addictive. For me books or magazines always take precedent over cleaning house. When my children were old enough to read on their own, I gave them each a flashlight so that, when they couldn’t put the book down at bedtime, they could slip under the covers into another world. There is nothing better than thumbing through an old book, finding phrases that made me laugh or cry.
My “book life” has been much more satisfying than any of the other lives we are supposed to live.
After years of enjoying Sparrow’s writing, I was taken aback by his essay “Small Protest” [April 2019]. Perhaps I am hypersensitive, and I understand it is only his opinion, but I was saddened when he said the Lord is narcissistic. As a person of faith, I refrain from putting others down for their beliefs, out of respect for them and their culture.
Sparrow says he is prepared to go to hell. I hope his attitude doesn’t take him there.
If there is a God, I think She can handle a bit of criticism.
I was farm-sitting in the mountains near Lillooet, British Columbia, when I was introduced to The Sun: a well-perused stack of issues was stuffed into a nook by the woodstove. The very first piece I read happened to be by my niece, Khaiti E. Hallstein [Readers Write on “Perseverance,” December 2016]. The synchronicity was palpable.
I soon subscribed and have been moved by your interviews and writing. I truly need these honest voices. Thank you for offering something that cuts through the glossy bullshit of our times.