• U.S.

Letters, Nov. 27, 1972

9 minute read

What War Has Meant

Sir / You suggest [Nov. 6] that “this is the moment to look back on what the war meant, and to look ahead to…what peace will mean.”

My friends and I were about twelve years old in 1959 when the first Americans were killed in Viet Nam, a place no one had ever heard of. We know too well what the war meant: it has become a part of us. We are not able, however, to look ahead to what peace will mean. It will be an entirely new experience.


New York City

Sir / In reference to your Viet Nam conflict chronology, I am very grateful that you did not fail to state that in July 1955, with U.S. support. Diem barred reunification elections. This fact has apparently been overlooked (or willfully ignored) by many Americans, especially by those who loftily proclaim the God-given right of every people to determine their own destiny by means of the electoral process. Obviously the dictum did not apply in Viet Nam, where “Bad Guy” Ho might have won.


Havre de Grace, Md.

Sir / The exact timing of the Viet Nam peace announcements leads one to wonder if the world would not benefit from monthly U.S. elections.


Black Hawk, Colo.

Sir / For Man of the Year: Vermont’s Senator George Aiken, whose plan for ending the Viet Nam War (Say we won and get out) is finally about to be adopted.


Spokane, Wash.

Sir / Now that the Viet Nam War seems to be drawing to a close, the immense and almost unbearable task must begin—to understand how and why such a catastrophic moral tragedy occurred. The war will end, but the social, political, and spiritual disintegration it engendered will not. For decades to come, the Viet Nam conflict will stand as a great dividing line in our moral history.


Wailuku, Hawaii

Organized Greed?

Sir / The work ethic that Mr. Nixon sanctimoniously extols [Oct. 30] is an Establishment euphemism for our system of organized greed, in which everyone has both hands out grabbing as much as he can for as little work as possible—while at the same time making every effort to avoid paying his fair share of taxes.

There must be a better system.


Vincentown, N.J.

Sir / The work ethic will never go out of style. The whole aim of life is to have a function that you can work at every waking hour. The work ethic is not in trouble. But working for money just might be, because money alone has become the measure of purpose.

The great challenge to our system is to weave new measures of working purpose into personal and corporate endeavor.

It is time to retire when the drive to work diminishes. It is time to die when there is no sense of purpose. The trauma of our society is that there are millions of people who have no sense of purpose, but who, physiologically, are too healthy to die.


West Palm Beach, Fla.

Sir / Millions of Americans who have spent a considerable part of their lives working at menial and unpleasant jobs may feel that Americans who “see no virtue” in such jobs are the reason that it is difficult to get very excited about the large amount of joblessness indicated by unemployment statistics. Unemployed once meant “unable to find a job,” not “unwilling to take a job.”


Champaign, Ill.

Sir / The counterculture, of which I am a part, has discovered that it would rather grow its food and lead a more peaceful life than the tedium of the 9-to-5 rat race.

The work ethic is not going out of style. Instead, the style of life is changing.


Los Angeles

Sir / So: “Over the past two decades, the percentage of married women who work has risen from 25% to 42%.”

May you sink into the sea.


Hibbing, Minn.

Sir / Your work-ethic Essay suggests that all work should be “soul enriching” whatever that means.

There is much work that is routine or messy that must be done. Also let’s not overlook the fact that the world is full of people who want “easy” repetitive work that does not require mental effort.

Your writer shows his ignorance by critically noting that on auto assembly lines a “worker must even get permission” to go to the bathroom. Would your writer stop an entire assembly line producing a car a minute rather than have a foreman find a temporary replacement for a worker who can’t wait for the regular rest period?


Marco Island, Fla.

Sir / It is very clear to me that the work ethic is suffering from a glamour gap. As the occupational glamour index rises and falls at the public’s whim, certain jobs go begging while others are coveted.

Downgrading of certain tasks completely disregards the dramatic possibilities of almost any career. We may rant against toil, and yet we were created for it. While deploring job hardships, we doggedly scrub and paint at home to enhance the family image. Prolonged inactivity leaves us mean or deadened.


Lakeland, Fla.

Sir / While commending much that TIME has to say about the work ethic, I challenge your statement “John Calvin asserted that hard-earned material success was a sign of God’s predestining grace.” This judgment, though sometimes affirmed in superficial references to Calvin, is an erroneous inference from certain views of Max Weber. Weber failed to examine such passages in Calvin’s writings as: “Wherever prosperity flows uninterruptedly, its effects gradually corrupt even the best of us.” Here Calvin calls the view that “God manifested his favor by prosperity” quite erroneous and “a common evil” (referring to Deuteronomy 8:12).

Passages warning against the perils of prosperity and the assumption that it serves as proof of divine acceptance are scattered through Calvin’s Commentaries. Like many Puritans, Calvin approved of work not only in obedience to the commandment, “Six days shalt thou labor,” but also as a means of helping those in need.


Middlebury, Vt.


Sir / Incredible! First we have massive evidence that the Committee for the Re-Election of the President has been engaged in unprecedented political espionage, then we discover [Nov. 6] that the once respected FBI is also on Mr. Nixon’s payroll.

Whether the President in fact meant for the FBI to become involved in political studies relating to his bid for re-election is not important to me. The problem is that I believe that he might have. Color me scared.


Lyons Falls, N.Y.

No Rationale for Murder, But…

Sir / Re your article on De Mau Mau [Oct. 30]: of course their reasons are not a rationale for murder. However, it makes a hell of a lot more sense for a black in that position to murder a wealthy white than it does for him to murder a Viet Cong or North Vietnamese soldier.


Lake Park, Fla.

Buried Slaves

Sir / I think it is quite fitting that Jay Cooper, the descendant of a Confederate general, is now the mayor of Prichard, Ala. [Oct. 16].

Your statement about the side-by-side burial of the general and his mistress raises an interesting point. The fact is that some slaves wanted to be buried close to their white families, and in many instances it was done. One Mississippian told me that in his family plot there is one slave’s grave now completely surrounded by the family. All of this came about because masters and slaves sometimes developed a deep sense of affection and loyalty not depending necessarily upon an adulterous relationship.


Ocean Springs, Miss.

A Craving

Sir / In 1970 my friend and I visited Russia and met Lyudmilla Prussakova [Oct. 30] and her husband outside the Moscow Synagogue. She was a teacher and he a director for a TV station, but both lost their jobs after applying for exit visas to Israel. What will always remain with me is the innocence of two human beings who craved to go to Israel for spiritual reasons—a desire that is in the mind and soul and transcends the political ideology of the country in which they are presently trapped. I believe that it is hard for most Americans, and indeed for all free people, to understand this feeling of lack of control over one’s destiny.


Washington, D.C.

Monuments to Freedom

Sir / You say that the U.S. spends $240 million in aid to South Korea annually [Oct. 30]. What you did not mention is that a Korean soldier earns $2 a month to serve in Korea, but he gets $38 a month extra if he volunteers to go to South Viet Nam. Guess who pays the difference.

We have had a large hand in giving President Park his vast power. Now the question is: Can we continue to support his dictatorship?

When I was a Peace Corps volunteer in South Korea I noticed that the Koreans had not forgotten the 34,000 Americans who died there nor the U.N. forces that helped them achieve their freedom. The country abounds in monuments to those who served it.


Bismarck, N. Dak.

A Reminder

Sir / As an ex-prisoner of Auschwitz-Birkenau I find it sad that John Cardinal Krol did not seize the opportunity of true ecumenism while at the beatification ceremony of his noble colleague, Friar Maximilian Kolbe [Oct. 30]. The fact remains that the overwhelming majority of those who lost their lives in Auschwitz were Jews, and among them many, many Polish Jews. Since many of the zealous Polish Catholics with the “emblazoned banners of their parishes” were equally zealous in helping the Nazis exterminate practically the entire Jewish population of Poland (more than 3 million dead). Cardinal Krol could have done a great service to humanity by reminding this zealous gathering and the world at large that hate and bigotry, racial or political, know no boundaries.



Still in the Bedroom

Sir / The most devastating jab at French sensuality [Nov. 6] is that any man who could count to 44 minutes during intercourse would ever bother to do so. Despite the influx of science into the bedroom, the accuracy of sexual data gathered by interview is questionable at best. In such a turbulent moral climate, the true sexual attitudes of the French (and the Americans) are probably still prisoners of those dark bedrooms.



Sir / Isn’t it gratifying to know that the duration of the sexual act is 15 to 44 minutes for 24% of the French people interviewed. Isn’t it wonderful that the French populace has been trained to start a timer on intromission and shut it off at orgasm. Forty-four minutes, imagine.


Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

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