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to the Editor
New letters that were not included in Spark magazine.
A response to John Vander Meer's article "Sizing Up America":
Reading your opinion piece in the Spring 2001 Spark reminded me of Yogi Berra's famous quip, "deja vu all over again." Having graduated from Calvin College just over 20 years ago, I can relate so well to your experiences and conce rns. Be of good cheer, there is good news. You, your classmates, your fellow American citizens and even the world's large and diverse population can be OK if willing to adhere as best they can to a couple of simple (simple, not easy) principles. More on those later.
As a student at Calvin
in the late 1970's, I was appalled by the same meaningless statistics
you cite regarding America's seemingly outsized use of energy and natural
resources while having only 6% of the world's population. Let me provide
a big hint; America also happens to produce a share of goods
It is one of the
reasons they have lost the debate in the real world. You can't survive
and prosper in the world when you refuse to accept change, admit mistakes
or be willing to innovate. College campuses have always provided that
unique environment in which 100% turnover of young minds every
I also went to Europe
during my Calvin years, although my experience in the hostels with people
from around the world was in Amsterdam. I remember playing foosball one
night with a South African, a New Zealander and a German. It was just
one part of an awesome experience. Hopefully you didn't
Also, people are
not starving in the world because of the greediness of American farmers
or because we're not giving away enough food. People starve in the world
because they live under despotic, socialistic and stupid governments that
abuse their people for their own selfish purposes. It is the most unnatural
thing in the universe for human beings to starve
But as I said, be of good cheer. The great thing is you have challenged your mind these last four years and no doubt have learned a lot, not all from books. Just keep in mind you will have to unlearn as much or more in the coming years, and then re-learn all over again. Calvin College, in my experience, didn't help me because of what I learned. Calvin helped me tremendously because it taught me how to learn, it showed me a bigger world than I was aware of up until that point, and it allowed me the opportunity to persevere despite mistakes to achieve my goal of graduation. Those were invaluable experiences.
You have had the
opportunity to travel and meet interesting new people. If I were you,
I would hurry up and do more of that. Trust me, it's hard to backpack
through Asia or Europe on 2 weeks of vacation a year. Finally,
a few simple principles I learned somewhat slowly that have helped me.
Always remember that God is loving, merciful, gracious and perfectly
I wish you all the best and God's blessings! Now go conquer the world.
Jim Slagter '80