Opinion | Amanda Gorman’s Message to the World – The New York Times


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To the Editor:
If You’re Alive, You’re Afraid,” by Amanda Gorman (Opinion guest essay, Sunday Review, Jan. 23), was one of the most insightful, provocative and emotionally uplifting pieces I have read in a very long time. It should be required reading for all world and American leaders.
In just a relatively few words, Ms. Gorman, the poet at the inauguration a year ago, managed to touch my heart and the hearts of so many others who are in constant emotional turmoil because of events over the past several years: fear of getting sick, fear of losing one’s life or the lives of loved ones, and a fear of democracy on the edge of collapse, here and around the world.
The rise of overt racism, antisemitism and hatred of immigrants that has taken hold of so many of us has been sheer torture.
It is time for us to heal. That will not come from hatred, it will not come from greed and it will not come from destructive behavior. It will come only from compassion, love, patience and tolerance.
Morton H. Grusky
Santa Fe, N.M.
To the Editor:
In this time of widespread fear in America, Amanda Gorman sends an important message: Strength comes from actively coping with fear rather than suppressing it. Recognizing that fear is an automatic and necessary alert to danger, Ms. Gorman provides an implied rebuttal to the common advice parents often give to their children, “Don’t be afraid.”
Instead, worried families can best comfort their understandably anxious children by asking them, “How can I help you feel safe, in spite of your scary feelings?” That discussion can reassure children, validate their feelings and let them know that their own actions, words and/or play can make them feel safer and less overwhelmed.
Robert Abramovitz
New York
The writer, a child psychiatrist and child trauma expert, is a senior consultant at the National Child Trauma Workforce Institute.
To the Editor:
As an American abroad, I was moved to tears by Amanda Gorman’s openness, clarity and courage! In a time of flagging hopes, spiraling hatred and wholesale despair, her words shone with their resilience and honesty.
Any time I worry about being overtaken by my own fears I will reread it and continue my efforts to produce positive change in our country.
Reavis Hilz-Ward
Frankfurt
To the Editor:
What is it like teaching during Omicron?
Imagine you are assigned to cater a dinner party, only you don’t know how many people are expected to show up. You are given a list of the guests, their allergies, food preferences, who is vegan, kosher, halal. Perhaps half the guests will stay home. You will know who is coming to dinner only when you open your door. You are expected to provide an excellent dinner, regardless of who is present to enjoy it.
The next night, you are scheduled to have another party for those same guests. But with a slightly different menu. Something that builds upon the previous meal. Except for the people who didn’t show up for the first party. They need to have the meal they missed and the new meal. Again, you will not know who is coming to your dinner party until you open your doors.
And the people who are still home need to have all the meals they missed. Even if they don’t have an appetite.
And that is sort of what it is like to teach during Omicron.
The remarkable thing is, you would not know how crazy this is if you joined me in visiting our classes. What you would see are teachers thoroughly engaged in their work. You would see our students enthusiastically engaged in the topics at hand. You would hear laughter and animated conversations, complex discussions and thoughtful questions. You would see learning taking place.
David Getz
New York
The writer is a middle school principal.
To the Editor:
Re “We Need to Think the Unthinkable About the U.S.,” by Jonathan Stevenson and Steven Simon (Opinion guest essay, Jan. 14):
I agree with the article, but here’s my unthinkable: secession — no war, no violence, just go separate ways. It is increasingly clear that there are two competing stories of American values.
Let’s actually consider what will happen if Texas splits from the United States and is followed by a number of other red states. Maybe by thinking the unthinkable we can prevent it. Or maybe it is better to live in two different countries, separated by philosophical differences, while cooperating for economic and defense reasons, as in Europe.
Think of how productive both countries could be if they didn’t have to waste time arguing over the things that currently divide us.
Dan Evans
Huntington, N.Y.
To the Editor:
Re “Playing a Long Game, Putin Has America Where He Wants It,” by Fiona Hill (Opinion guest essay, Jan. 25):
Ms. Hill’s excellent essay underscores a serious weakness in the government of the United States. Simply stated, this country does not have a long game, and our cultural bias toward short-term results means that we have little idea how to play it.
Whoever is in political power disregards thinking the long game in favor of retaining political superiority and one-upmanship against adversaries in our own country.
Playing against China’s long game of attracting foreign companies, many U.S. firms moved manufacturing to China to achieve short-term profits. The pandemic exposed the inherent weakness of manufacturing far away. Now our country is faced with the difficult task of unwinding the supply chain of various goods, cheap and expensive, after we victimized ourselves with critical, even lifesaving, goods in short supply during this pandemic.
Economics, business, politics, the military and foreign relations are all very much intertwined. Except for strategic thinkers like Ms. Hill, we tend to compartmentalize them, to our detriment. It behooves the leaders of this nation, both political and business, to understand our close allies and our adversaries well in all aspects, so we can take the best actions in our long-term national interests. I am not sure I will live long enough to see this happen.
Ben Myers
Harvard, Mass.
To the Editor:
Re “Democrats Face Costly New Slog on Voting Curbs” (front page, Jan. 16):
Many of the issues regarding the new voting regulations being implemented by both Democratic- and Republican-controlled state legislatures could be mitigated if the United States adopted a national identity card issued — free — by the federal government to everyone 18 years and older.
The card would confirm both citizenship and identity, and could be used as an ID for voting, banking, domestic travel, and purchases of tobacco and alcoholic beverages. In fact, a prototype of this card already exists: the U.S. passport card.
Many of the concerns voiced by Democrats regarding burdensome paperwork requirements that impedes voting by disadvantaged Americans and by Republicans regarding alleged fraud by voters would be eliminated. Anyone who believes that a mandatory national identity card raises a privacy issue should avoid using a smartphone!
Ira Sohn
New York
To the Editor:
Re “Vegan Travel: It’s Not Fringe Anymore” (Travel, nytimes.com, Jan. 21):
It was heartening to hear that veganism is being taken seriously in the travel industry. The article cites an elevated environmental awareness that is prompting people to go vegan. Preventing further environmental degradation is indeed an important reason to become vegan.
But an equally vital reason is the world’s nonhuman animals that are regularly abused and exploited in our agricultural system as well as in fashion, entertainment and science.
Veganism is so much more than a diet; it’s a commitment to live as compassionate a life as possible.
April Lang
New York
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