Don't Worry, Be Happy
Thank you for your cover story, "The Optimism Bias" [June 6]. The cover's subhead says, "Hope isn't rational so why are humans wired for it?" The answer is pretty obvious, not least in evolutionary terms: if we had nothing to look forward to, if we did not hope for the better, then life would have no meaning and we'd all curl up and die. That would be the end of our species.
The article on optimism made me think of some terrible situations people have faced, including the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan. The report says that having hope is the key to optimism. I am afraid that hope alone is not enough, because it can lead to empty optimism. I want to add another word, fortitude, which gives us the ability to survive with optimism.
That our brains are hardwired to be optimistic seems to explain why so many of us have no trouble believing in religious placebos, such as prayer, guardian angels and life after death.
Bibi the Provocateur
Over the years we have seen again and again that it is impossible for any U.S. politician to speak against Israeli interests ["Bibi Provokes Barack," June 6]. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent speech to the U.S. Congress shows more explicitly than ever that U.S. policy in the Middle East is influenced by Israel.
Joe Klein says that President Barack Obama will not forget Netanyahu's provocative behavior. Neither should any of us. Obama's proposal was a genuine offer to revive the Middle East peace process, and it is only through mutual peace settlements with its neighbors that Israel can survive, prosper and regain its international standing as a democracy. Netanyahu assumes that the rest of the world will support Israel regardless of its actions on the West Bank. He hopes that he can goad the Palestinians into committing more terrorist activities so that he can secure international support for Israel and opposition to Palestine. Netanyahu's short-term policies will doom Israel to pariah status.
Klein has said something that has been known for many years: "[Netanyahu] has the U.S. Congress in his pocket ..." That explains why Israel has gotten away with so many years of disregarding U.N. resolutions as it continues to build on what little land the Palestinian people are left with.
The piece hits the proverbial nail on the head. Netanyahu's one and only goal is to stay in power for as long as possible. Hamas has declared it will continue its struggle to destroy Israel. We need America's help to push us to make peace as we don't have the moral courage to do it alone.
Gesher Haziv, Israel
Klein accuses Netanyahu of inappropriate behavior for clearly defining the Israeli borders. However, it is Obama's behavior that is inappropriate: How could an ally subject Israel to having indefensible borders? Well done, Bibi. You made us proud!
Re "Faith in the Arab Spring," [June 6]: Violence and disrespect all boil down to the thought that one religious belief is superior to another. This is an opportune time to change attitudes. Indeed, why not convert clashes to convergence? Let the defining Arab Spring bring forth a truly peaceful coexistence that we have all been praying for and craving for a long time. Let harmony prevail.
Tan Boon Tee,
Through the media, we hear about a lot of conflicts: East vs. West, Christians vs. Muslims, Sunnis vs. Shi'ites, us vs. them. Yet we hear little about cooperation among different groups that are trying to solve problems and create fairer societies. It does nothing to promote understanding and tolerance. Thank you, Bruce Feiler, for doing that in your article.
Palmerston North, New Zealand
Feiler proposes that the Arab Spring may be proof that Islam does not teach Muslims "to be hostile to freedom, pluralism and individualism," as Samuel Huntington has theorized. However, the revolutions taking place are in spite of Islam and its attempted preservation of the status quo. Islam has no place for women's rights or apostasy, while its clerics are vehemently opposed to secularism and social reform.
Kissinger's Chinese Adage
In 10 Questions [June 6], former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger explains the Chinese way of thinking, saying that "no problem has a final solution; every solution is an admission ticket to another problem." The Americans should take heed and realize that there is no such thing as "mission accomplished" in the fight against terrorism.