THE GREAT DIVIDE
I enjoyed Steve Almond’s essay, “Our Separate Ways” (Connections, November 4). Mine is perhaps an inverse of Almond’s situation, where most of my friends are Republicans and/or conservative but I, also a Republican, feel out of place among them. Seems the only place in the party these days is for hard-liners, particularly on the social-issues front. I get my Republicanism from Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the classic fiscal conservative/social progressives of days apparently gone by. I’ve attended the last two Massachusetts Republican conventions and could not help but feel I was among Southern Democrats/Confederates. Ronald Reagan said about his leaving the Democratic Party that to him it felt as though the party left him. I can’t help but feel that the Republican Party is leaving not only me but also itself. I’ll not become a Democrat, but I’ll be casting off party affiliation. The founders preferred that anyway.
James Smith / Franklin
In light of this very heated, very long, sometimes very negative campaign season, it was refreshing to read something about honest self-reflection. I applaud Almond for recognizing the fact that social media and single-sided media outlets oftentimes inflame a general disdain for those on “the other side.’’ Instead of broadening our minds, we have more outlets that support our (sometimes misguided?) beliefs, thus ultimately narrowing our simple minds. I do not think that we have progressed as a people within the age of information; rather, we have regressed and turned into biased bigots, pitting one against the other with our over-hyped misinformation from both sides. For the sake of our country, and more immediately for the sake of our children, we must be willing to listen — really listen — to all sides. Be your own person. Forget labels. Follow your own convictions. Keep your minds open. Be proud of what you stand for. Be courteous and respectful of others’ opinions. Stand tall. Do the right thing. Period. You might find a new friend along the way.
Kitty Pinch / Hingham
What a wonderfully insightful article on the “political divide’’ that has really burst its seams in the past few years. I thank Almond for writing about it. Keep up the good work.
Nancy K. Fox / Pepperell
Almond’s example of the “grandma” who believes Barack Obama is a “black Muslim” is ageism. Most older women are not stupid and most of us even know how to use computers. As an aside, I’m not sure I agree with Almond’s thinking. “The aisle that divides” did away with slavery and Jim Crow laws and gave women the vote and other advances.
Ann Bardin / Merrimack, New Hampshire
Thanks for a great article. I live in New Hampshire, where no one ever talks politics anymore. I teach in a public school, but even there the staff is divided and no mention is made of the election. How sad is this? It’s true that only when we’re with like-minded people do we talk politics. We need to fix this!
Joan Fuller / Hollis, New Hampshire
Kudos to the Globe Magazine for highlighting the problem of hunger in the Boston area (“From Farm to Everyone’s Table,” November 4). Dedicated efforts by people like Catherine D’Amato and the 20,000 volunteers at more than 550 food pantries, meal programs, and shelters are making a real difference in people’s lives. The Greater Boston Food Bank would be the first to say it cannot solve the food insecurity problem on its own. In order to make lasting progress in ending hunger, the business community must step up and offer its resources. For example, Walmart has donated refrigerated trucks, food, time, and money to make it possible for the Food Bank to collect and distribute frozen and perishable food. It’s part of Walmart’s $2 billion commitment to fight hunger in America. With 45 percent of people in Eastern Massachusetts in need of food aid and winter on the way, now is the time to mobilize community partners to stand together against hunger.
Chris Buchanan / Director, Public Affairs and Government Relations, Walmart Plymouth
Good article on the Greater Boston Food Bank. In case Scott Helman pens a sequel, he should consider writing about Boston Area Gleaners — we send volunteer crews to outlying farms to harvest unmarketed produce. Today we’re scheduled to harvest beets and bok choy at the Food Project’s farm in Lincoln. We deliver most of our gleaned produce to Food for Free in Cambridge, which in turn delivers to more than 60 meal programs and food pantries.
Oakes Plimpton / Arlington
I write in response to Dr. Lawrence N. Shulman’s article supporting Lance Armstrong (Perspective, November 4). As an NGO leader myself, I am fully versed in the most arduous efforts behind fund-raising and mobilizing volunteers to support any cause. And as a cancer survivor, and with a mother who has leukemia, I am emotionally connected. But Shulman’s article saddened me in many ways. Armstrong — the very man many still idolize, despite the avalanche of evidence which has been ratified by all of the sport’s leading governance associations and federations — has created the Lance Armstrong Foundation on the back of leading, collaborating, and executing one of the world’s most sophisticated doping programs. Countless people have been conned into donating time, money, love, and skills based on a charade. There is no dispute that the Lance Armstrong Foundation employees are a committed, loyal, hard-working group who are sincere in their goals, something I believe their former chairman and current board member has never been. It is way past the time that the do-gooders started to realize that the very man they continue to support has single-handedly destroyed many lives of honest hard-working cyclists all over the world. My wish in the end is that young cyclists can once again dream of being the best in the world without having to make life-threatening decisions about their health.
Mark Philpott / Singapore
After reading Shulman’s article, I felt compelled to comment. A little over two years ago, my 14-year-old son, Brendan, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A dear family friend who had battled testicular cancer gave Brendan his Livestrong bracelet that he wore through all his treatments. On Brendan’s first day of chemo, Dana-Farber gave him a care package with a Livestrong bracelet. Brendan said I could have it. I put it on and haven’t taken it off since. Lately I have been getting a lot of comments from strangers, asking how I can still wear it after all the negative publicity. Like Shulman said, there is so much more to Lance and the Livestrong foundation than his bicycling career. I wear that bracelet every day to remind me of how strong my son is. I am thankful for all the support we have received.
J.J. Lynch / Marlborough
Before judging, one needs to look at both the good and bad. Often the good far outweighs the bad. This is the case for Armstrong. Eighteen months ago, I was treated at MGH and became a cancer survivor. The care and knowledge I received was terrific. It helped reduce my fears so I could really examine the whole process. Armstrong and his foundation helped me through this time. Lessons have been learned from this terrible situation, but now it’s time to forgive and look at all the positives Armstrong has provided. And I’ve been to the Tour de France. Drugs or no drugs, the spectacle was quite a feat.
Betsy Kross / Manchester-by-the-Sea
ADVISING THE ADVISER
I read Miss Conduct’s response to R.R. in Cambridge (November 4) and have another response that she could have given the woman who complained about her daughter’s male soccer coach: “He is probably the father of one of the girls who is volunteering his time. If you don’t like it, then lace up your sneakers and volunteer your time rather than deprive your child of a great sport.’’ Finding parents who are willing to give their time to coach is difficult. Most of the coaches out there are trying to do their best to give your children a positive experience.
Michael Borek / Scituate
Surely anyone attempting to teach others politeness should practice it herself. That is why I often find Miss Conduct’s column bewildering, particularly her venomous response to the overextended great-aunt (November 4). The writer was clearly a well-intentioned older woman who was financially burdened by her familial obligations. She needed reassurance and, perhaps, suggestions of more affordable ways to acknowledge the children’s birthdays. Certainly, she did not deserve a vicious response. People who approach us for help deserve our kindness and respect. If we believe their actions or attitudes merit a reproof, we must deliver it gently. Those who attack the most vulnerable among us are called bullies. Bullying often indicates a deep-seated insecurity. As a PhD in psychology, Miss Conduct ought to know that.
Dorothy A. Dahm / Hubbardton, Vermont
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