Japan: Grace in the Ruins
Re Time's cover package on Japan [March 28]: As a young Air Force officer stationed at Misawa Air Base, I went through Japan's 8.2 magnitude quake of 1968. Our base was badly damaged, and we went days without power or heat or water. Our military discipline and personal resolve saw us through our crisis. Also inspiring were our Japanese neighbors in Misawa City and northern Honshu. First they endured, and then they recovered. I have no doubt that Japan will be rebuilt in far less time than we can imagine now. Because in Japan, it's not about "me" but about "us."
Paul S. Kendall,
Arlington, Texas, U.S.
The comments in your cover story about the resolve and fortitude of the Japanese people are right on the mark. We take pride in working hard and as a team, no matter how difficult a situation we are put in. It will take years for northern Japan to rebuild from this disaster. The earthquake and tsunami may have taken away our shelter, clothes and food, but one thing they can never take away is our samurai spirit.
The deep sorrow of those who lost not only family members but every piece of property is unimaginable. There are also many refugees who were not directly affected by the earthquake and tsunami but were forced to evacuate because of the damaged nuclear plant. We need to urgently carry out rescue and restoration. Japan has historically overcome many natural and man-made disasters, and now must show it has enough strength to do so in the face of unprecedented catastrophe. I believe we can do it.
The title on your cover, "Japan's Meltdown," is inaccurate, insensitive and appalling. It belittles Japan's all-out, around-the-clock efforts to avoid meltdown, fuels fear outside Japan and pumps paranoia into people inside Japan. The exaggerated title does disservice to your own reporters, whose coverage was levelheaded among mostly panicky stories coming from the foreign media.
Although TIME's cover title was shocking, all the stories described the situation in northeastern Japan accurately. The disaster has been described as unthinkable and beyond the scope of design. That may be true, and we understand it would be too costly to prepare 10-m-high seawalls along the entire coastline. We can rebuild houses and towns even if an earthquake and tsunami devastate them. But we cannot rebuild on land contaminated by radiation. This is the lesson learned and to be shared in the world.
It is difficult to understand how Michael Grunwald, in his fairly balanced discussion in "The Real Cost of Nuclear Power," can include these sentences together: "The industry's defenders may ignore Fukushima Daiichi, but the industry will not. It's serious about public safety ..." and "... in 2003 industry lobbyists beat back an [NRC] recommendation for new [rules] designed to prevent the hydrogen explosions that are now all over the news."
Laurence E. Thomson,
Richmond, Vt., U.S.
No doubt the events in Japan are serious, but as with the Three Mile Island accident, the media are pitching sensationalism rather than facts. Despite the catastrophic severity of simultaneous natural events, the Fukushima reactors' safety systems and containment structures performed as they were designed to perform. I worked in reactor safety and design at a Department of Energy national laboratory for many years. I am certain that nuclear fission is the only energy source we have (or will have for quite some time) that is capable of ending our dependence on foreign oil. I hope my grandchildren will see it in their lifetimes.
Willowbrook, Ill., U.S.
Despite emotions and a few high-profile accidents, nuclear power has a relatively good production and safety record to build upon. Society should learn and prudently act on accidents and not run from intelligent use of technology.
Scottsdale, Ariz., U.S.
What's Next in the Mideast
Re Joe Klein's "Washington's Policy Sandstorm" column on Libya and Egypt [March 28]: The billion-dollar question is whether the change people are fighting for will eventually give way to religious fundamentalism. It is one thing to overthrow dictators. It is another to make sure democracy is installed.
South San Francisco, Calif., U.S.
What a lift I got from your 12 pages of reasons to have hope for the world ["The 10 Ideas That Will Change the World for the Better," March 28]. Thank you.
Indian Land, S.C., U.S.
TIME's world-changing 10 ideas look at the future through rose-colored glasses. A mention of how things could go wrong would have presented a more balanced picture.
Re "Fix the Deficit? We Can Do That": In a single descriptive phrase about politicians "More worried about the next election than about the next generation" writer Marc Goldwein has identified one of the most significant issues crippling America's political processes. We need to eliminate career politicians and limit elected officials in both the House and Senate to single terms so they can spend their time working rather than campaigning. Until we address this flaw, we cannot reasonably expect progress on the tough issues of our time.
Lawrence R. Williams,
Baldwinsville, N.Y., U.S.
Each year my high school chooses a project geared toward making the world a better place. Last year we worked very hard to raise money to build a girls' school in Afghanistan. When I read your article in 10 Ideas, "Why Afghanistan Is Far from Hopeless," I felt gratified to know that school enrollment has dramatically increased. It's even more satisfying that Afghans feel their country is headed in a prosperous direction. It made me feel like our small-town high school efforts were all the more worthwhile.
Clarion, Pa., U.S.
The Limits of Strictness
Thank you, Nancy Gibbs, for bringing to light the stupidity of no-tolerance authority ["Zero Tolerance, Zero Sense," March 28]. During my sophomore year of high school, I received a two-hour extended detention for cutting class to attend a Holocaust survivor's book signing at our school that was open only to certain history classes and not mine. I am currently 19 years old, and in retrospect, I did learn a valuable lesson: authority is a mockery of itself in its inability to view the shades of gray.
Bourbonnais, Ill, U.S.
As a former principal, I think those school officials who adhere so strictly to the letter of zero-tolerance rules are cowards. They are afraid to make honorable decisions. They do not want to even have to make decisions. They want a prescription to follow so they can say they were just adhering to the rules.
James K. Gant,
Denton, Texas, U.S.
Gibbs captured some of the absurdities in our school systems. We will suspend, expel or seek counseling for a child in possession of a Boy Scout tool or dinner knife. But when it comes to dealing with kids who harass or bully fellow students, we are woefully lacking in effective help for either victim or perpetrator.
Parker, Colo., U.S.
Let's Stay Together
Writer-activist Dan Savage's response in 10 Questions that longtime couples are "unrealistic" about the nature of love is foolish and demonstrates his lack of understanding concerning love's transformative power over those 40 years he so blithely dismisses [March 28]. I'm sure we would have all gotten the point if he had just said, "Marriage is stupid, and I don't like it." Despite Savage's blanket assertions about how foolish we all are for entering into a loving, committed marriage, I can't wait until my wife and I have been married for four decades.
Lorton, Va., U.S.
Savage's advice to TIME's readers demeaning marital fidelity is a prescription for generational dysfunction. Both my parents-in-law recently passed away after 58 years of marriage. They were true soul mates who didn't need to look elsewhere and not surprisingly left this world only a few weeks apart. Their fidelity left a great example to their children and grandchildren and all they met.