Dante Chinni's commentary on the dangers of our becoming distracted by issues of lesser moment during the upcoming presidential election - issues of who can marry whom, say - is pertinent and important ("Culture war: Brain drain on presidential politics," Nov. 25). One wonders why American voters, or voters anywhere, might narrow their focus to smaller and more divisive issues when the planet faces problems and policy matters that are vital to global health and well-being.
Perhaps the issues from which we're distracting ourselves are too threatening for us to face - our environmentally unsustainable American lifestyle, for instance, or the voracious AIDS/HIV plague that is spreading around the planet. These are not politically attractive issues.
We seem to know that we're an embattled people. We don't seem to know with what enemy to engage. Lacking a sense of scale, perhaps, and also a sense of humility, we find it easier to fight with our neighbors than to join the far more challenging battles.
As it's always been, the real enemy is us. And it's been awhile since a presidential candidate has built a successful platform on causing us to examine our lifestyles and our priorities. I have hope, nevertheless.
Your Nov. 26 article "Drug plan impact depends on where you sit" highlights the apprehensions many have about the new Medicare bill. Their concerns are justified in light of the ever-growing and never-slowing cost of drugs.
The bill should have included more meaningful curbs on these steady price increases. At a minimum, the government needs to be empowered to negotiate more reasonable prices.
By not resolving this key issue, the Medicare bill is a prescription for crippling rather than curing our healthcare system's financial challenges. This will become all the more apparent over the next couple of decades, when the ranks of US seniors swell to unprecedented numbers.
Regarding your Nov. 28 editorial "Wanted: More Science Students": I share your concern about the reduction in science professionals in our country. The problem should be addressed, in addition to all your suggestions, in the core curriculum. Part of the problem is that our school population is shifting just as is our national population. New York City has the largest school system of the country, and Hispanics are almost 40 percent of that total, just to present one example.
Our Eurocentric science curriculum portrays little scientific achievement from other ethnic groups. We teach that the world's greatest mathematicians were Greek, despite the fact that the African, Meso-American, Central American, and South American pyramids are among the best examples of mathematics and engineering talents. If we adjust the curriculum, I'm sure we can interest more students in science.
J. C. Malone
Regarding your Nov. 20 feature "Why commemorate death?": The fundamental reason is this: If we don't learn from the mistakes of the past, we are condemned to repeat them. I have been deeply moved (and motivated to help our civilization do better) by visits to Auschwitz, the Anne Frank House, Hiroshima, the Vietnam Memorial, and the beaches of Normandy, as well as the site of the World Trade Center. Each of these has reminded me how evil things can happen if not enough of us care, or remember.
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