• MAIL

    The Sunny Side of the Street

    I respectfully acknowledge Tali Sharot's focus on the science behind our optimistic brains, but I hope she also considers the faith factor [June 6]. Even after my first marriage ended after 18 years, even after my teenage daughter became pregnant, even after doctors diagnosed my breast cancer, I chose optimism. Perhaps God did hardwire my brain that way, but knowing he is beside me every step of my journey here on earth is why I choose optimism and why I have hope.

    Chris Grosser, GAYLORD, MICH.

    While it is plausible to believe humans may be neurologically inclined toward optimism, it is more plausible that this optimism is a product of society. Through exposure to incessant marketing strategies from birth, we are influenced to believe that our lives will or at least could be sunny and perfect. I wonder if the optimism found in the research subjects you discuss would be shared by people in destitute third-world countries who do not see the ads full of wealth and materialism that litter every inch of modern global societies.

    Emma Woodward, CHAPEL HILL, N.C.

    The optimism bias is the key to the continuation of our species. Any woman who has experienced pregnancy, endured the pain of childbirth and changed a thousand dirty diapers would know this. The only way women would be willing to have more children would be to file the positive memories and dull the negative ones. My mother explained this to me years ago.

    Susan Berron, MANCHESTER, MO.

    There is nothing "irrational" about hope and optimism: it is more important that we survive than look at the world rationally, and false beliefs may in fact help us to do so.

    Richard Tokumei, NEWPORT BEACH, CALIF.

    Peace Politics

    Joe Klein's article "Bibi Provokes Barack" is fraught with wrong assumptions [June 6]. The occupied land upon which the "illegal settlements" are built belongs to Israel. In 1948, Israel was invaded by five Arab states. Israel won the war, and the occupied land became a prize of war, like Texas. In his May speech regarding Middle East policy, Obama stated that Israel shouldn't have to negotiate with terrorist groups like Hamas that deny its right to exist. Until the government of Palestine recognizes the existence of the state of Israel, how can negotiations begin? The assumption that the Palestinian state can be demilitarized is pie-in-the-sky. It is totally unenforceable.

    Philip Schirm, LOS GATOS, CALIF.

    Joe Klein doesn't say it loud enough. Netanyahu's patronizing attitude toward Obama was infuriating. It is time to withdraw and let the chips fall where they may. Only when Israelis realize they are alone to face a hostile environment will they perhaps come to their senses.

    Lucille Apcar, MARIPOSA, CALIF.

    Eyes on a Storm

    David Von Drehle's "Torn Asunder" does not read as a journalistic report but rather as a wonderful piece of historical literature [June 6]. Its lyrical descriptions, succinctness and transitions from scenes of devastation to tales of unbelievable courage were truly moving.

    Eileen Towse, TOLEDO, OHIO

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