Letters to The Ethical Spectacle

I created a community, spent five years building it and living in it full time, then was ejected from it in a few minutes about ten days ago--I'm completely shut out.

As I often do in terrible moments, I turned to a poet whose work always seems to mirror my life, in language much better wrought than mine. Here is Yeats' To A Friend Whose Work Has Come To Nothing:

 NOW all the truth is out,
 Be secret and take defeat
 From any brazen throat,
 For how can you compete,
 Being honour bred, with one
 Who, were it proved he lies,
 Were neither shamed in his own
 Nor in his neighbours' eyes?
 Bred to a harder thing
 Than Triumph, turn away
 And like a laughing string
 Whereon mad fingers play
 Amid a place of stone,
 Be secret and exult,
 Because of all things known
 That is most difficult.
I can be reached as always at jw@bway.net.

Here is one of the most memorable letters I have ever received.

Dear Mr. Wallace,

While surfing the internet, I ran across a website that has your name as the author for it. I am referring to Texas Killed Karla Fay.

I wanted to commend you for what you wrote. I totally agree you in every aspect.

Thank you very much for speaking out!

Peace be with you,

Ronald W. Carlson - brother of Deborah Thornton

Dear Jonathan,

Just a note to let you know how much I enjoyed your piece on Pets. I have a pair of cockatiels (Jake and Ada) and they are pretty much as you describe Chandler. They certainly have their own distinct personalities. I agree fully about the ethical considerations you bring up. This is an aspect of keeping pets that I feel society tries extremely hard to ignore.

Thanks again,

Jim Law law@cs.orst.edu

Dear Jonathan:

Just saw the essay. I like box turtles a lot. They enjoy scrambled eggs (not exactly a part of their natural diet) and earthworms for protein. You should try to meet a hyacinth macaw (the giant blue ones). They are immensely expensive, incredibly gentle, really beautiful, and loads of fun.

Regards, James M. Ray jray@e-gold.com

Dear sir:

enjoyed your story on pets. we have five cats and i must admit, there are times i wonder why. when they flop on my lap and rub me with their heads, then i know why. i think pets make us more human, however, there are humans that treat their pets better than they treat other humans. we are a strange people and i wonder how we manage to stay at the top of the pyramid.

Dale Stone DRSe@pge.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I very much enjoyed your Pets article. If you are not aware of the work of Irene Pepperberg on parrots and language, I think you will find it fascinating, although I don't know how cockatiels measure up.

See http://www.cages.org/research/pepperberg/index.html

-Alma Whitten alma@cs.cmu.edu


How ya' doing? I haven't talked with you/at you in a while. I was cleaning up bookmarks this afternoon and tripped over the Spectacle.

After checking out your recent stuff (what in the world made you want a noisy bird like "Chandler" :-) I wandered through your essays on your beliefs. The following bit stood out as I read, and thought about you: "Ambrose Bierce said that God is a comedian whose audience is afraid to laugh. When I thought of God as a child, and even today, I am never filled with joy; instead, I am seized by an ineffable anxiety, as one contemplating a magic force that can stop my throat or crush my heart at an angry thought; a master who can brook no doubt or dissent, and who throws people away very easily."

I suppose I can understand your feelings -- it's easy to feel in danger (and I suspect it's perhaps easier in NY than in Texas;-). When you talk about your fear of God I think you're hitting the nail on the head, only with the wrong end of the hammer! God *is* capable of crushing you with a thought -- as Creator, it's his right and privilege to rearrange creation when and how he wants. But I'm thinking your fear keeps you from the recognition that He wants you to stand up and be counted, even when you may fail.

I (like you) have been to lots of funerals. Those which are for "lost" people tend to be bitter, dark affairs, with wailing and gnashing of teeth. Either that or they're full of "look what he accomplished and now he's gone" statements.

I went to the funeral of a sorta' friend years ago. He'd been my officemate (one of three) but we really hadn't had time to talk much since both of us ran home every day to be with our families. He had diabetes; one day he went home early to prepare for outpatient surgery on a toe. He never came back to work -- two days later his wife called and said "He's dead!".

I was shocked -- I'd never thought to look at him as anything but a coworker. Several of us went to the funeral (Northeast of Austin) and were amazed. He was an active Christian with a real gift for making people comfortable. His wife and kids were sad, but smiling. His real friends (those who knew him, rather than saw him at work) were smiling. Even though he'd died young (late 30's) they were still happy for him, and preparing to go on without him.

I remember thinking "I hope my family handles death this well". It wasn't long before I realized why they reacted like this. His wife expressed a tender appreciation of the things they'd had time to do together. His kids had memories of him telling them what was expected of them, and telling them that they were loved. Even though they hurt from their unexpected loss, they were fully aware that his love was still with them. But, how could his love reach them from beyond the grave?

It's only through the grace of God that his love reaches them every day. They know that God has made a place for him. They know that God took his broken body and restored it. They know that when he was here, he read God's Word, asked God for help, and then listened for God's response. Even through the difficulties (and we all have them) he faced, he still kept his focus on the Lord. His desire to please his Lord (and avoid the throat crushing you fear) is the very thing that the Lord respects, and what He uses to comfort those who remain behind.

Christians and Jews use the term "Faith" for this desire (to please the Lord) and its reciprocal expectation that He will shelter us from ultimate harm. Faith in the Lord is what keeps men of God from despair when they fail. Faith keeps me from digging a hole and sticking my head in it over the idiocy rampant in our society. I know that the Lord expects me to continue in the path He has chosen for me. Sometimes, I falter. Sometimes, I show my failures through cruelty or ego or attitude. Sometimes, I run from His expectation, thinking that if I run far enough and fast enough and push everyone away, I'll be able to hide from Him. It's the same thing that people have done for millenia.

I believe that in spite of all your running you do believe in God. I know that God has a place for each of His children, and despite your protestations, you are His child.

I believe that all you have to do is stop, look up at the heavens, and say "God, I'm here. I know you've been watching me. I don't know what you have in mind for me, but I'm going to listen to you. I'm going to depend on you from now on. Like Abraham, I'm going to have faith that in the end you'll take care of me."

Jonathan, I've known you for a while. You're a thinking liberal and there's nothing wrong with that. But sometimes, you think too much. Sometimes, you have to let God do your thinking -- He's already thought it all through.

I pray that you'll stop for a moment and listen to what you've been taught, and listen to your heart. I pray that you'll come to the Lord as a boy comes to his Father. Hopeful, fearful, worshipful. I guarantee that He wants to take you on His lap and say "Son, I've missed you. Why don't you tell Me how you've been?" After awhile, you'll gain enough confidence to come to Him and say "Father, tell me again how I can be what you want".

With God's Love,

Tom Stewart

Dear Jonathan:

I was amused with Ben Price's proud proclamation that he was arrested for advocating campaign finance reform. His description of how he and the other "freedom fighters" braved the zip-lock handcuffs and protested not being put in the holding cell with the Blacks was hilarious. It brought a little tear to my eye as he described actually having seen a dead bug in the facility. Oh, the suffering he endured for us all! Also, I am gratified to see that he stood his ground, and refused to pee for his drug test too. Whew!...I bet he dodged a bullet there. He is a true American hero, in the proud tradition of Jane Fonda and Al Sharpton.

Oh, his letter proclaiming his "love" for me after he cynically and bitterly decried my use of humor to dismiss his lunatic ravings was entertaining too. I think Ben's doctor finally may just be getting his medication dosage right..though it is obvious that it is a trial-and-error process.

Bob Wilson

Dear Mr. Wallace:

A few days ago I surfed onto your link page and felt like I had landed in another world --- such densely concentrated attention to all of these important and very serious topics is not common. I visited a good number of the links on the spot and made another long list of them for the next time.

While I had the opportunity, I printed out the Declaration of Indpendance, read Copyright Law and sent an e-mail to the First Lady. My reason for the latter is the same reason that I am asking you to add another link for a probably innocent death row prisoner in Arizona to your link page.

This is www.debbiemilke.com . I personally have nothing to do with Debbie or her family. My attention was called to the case by an appeal through her mother for help. After studying the website, I feel personally threatened by justice officers of the kind who were involved here.

There must be a way to give Debbie Milke a fair trial and correct a mistake that was made in the name of the people, before it is too late.

When I get my own website (I am a translator for German and English) I will remember to add a link to your site!

Thank you again,

Joy Christensen-Menzel joysuechr@adr.dk

Dear Mr. Wallace:

Hi there. I was just reading Ethical Spectacle and wondering why you haven't included any pro-choice sites. Is it a matter of your disagreeing with the content or because you hadn't run across any quality ones? Just a query.

Abigail Leah Plumb

Dear Mr. Wallace:

As the title states. The more sites that view the world with a critical eye there are, the better!!! Luck!!! Dave Martin 9938222@student.ul.ie

An Auschwitz Alphabet
Dear Mr. Wallace:

I believe that you have some incorrect information on this website. I have been researching information on Eleanora Hodys (mentioned in The Judge), and I believe she was not sent to Berlin and killed by the SS at the end of the war. My sources indicate she was at Dachau at the end of the war. She gave testimony to the American Army at liberation, and her testimony can be found in a report SS Dachau. Only her initials were used in this report (to protect her identity), but from the story she tells, I know the "E.H." in the report must be Eleanora Hodys.

Could you please tell me where you got your information about her death? Perhaps after liberation she was somehow captured by the SS and taken to Berlin where she was killed? I would like to check this out further.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.


Rhonda Maynard Carey blootie@netzero.net

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I recently found your web site on the internet and have found it very useful and educational. I'm doing a research paper for my high school American History class. I've decided to write my paper over the cruel and inhumane medical experiments the Jews suffered through. The accounts you gave were really gripping! I felt as though I was right there. I was wondering if you may know of any websites that list specific names of Doctors, besides the ones you listed? If you do not know of anymore that's okay. I would really appreciate it. Thank-You for taking the time to read my e-mail.


Dear Mr. Wallace:

This article on Schindlers' List is not accurate.

Spielburg's Movie is based on the book by Thomas Keneally and not created by Spielburg himself. The harsh criticisms of this article are misleading and innacurate. It seems the author was misinformed about the movie and its significance. Many people of Jewish decent have hailed the movie as a masterpiece and criticism from the Jewish community has been few and far between.

If you have any desire to state an opinion, please research the issue you are writing about. Harsh words that speak nothing are empty and meaningless.

I know the article is old, but when I cam across it today I was taken aback by the boldness of the author and his/her lack of solid knowledge.

Thank you,

Matt Glass iron_oxide@yahoo.com

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I am writing to thank you for taking the time to put all of this information together. I am a mother of 3 who finds that there are no words I can find to express the horror I feel at the things that have happened and continue to happen in our world. I find myself at a loss to explain genocide, the Holocaust and so much more to my kids. I search for explanations and find myself telling them that they must never forget stuff like this in order to help stop it from happening, then find myself trying to distract them from it in an effort to shield them "just a little longer" from man's cruelty to man. I just wanted to say thank you for keeping these atrocities visible so that they can find the information they need when they need it.

One of my college professors once summed it up by saying, "Nothing is more scary than the animal that is man."

Robbie Caudle dormlady@yahoo.com

Dear Sir:

My name is Hiroshi Shibayama. I enjoyed a research on your home page and I appreciate your important work to promote peace, conveying the real history of Holocaust that all the people in the world have to know and learn from it . Especially people in Japan need to learn the importance of tolerance from the history of the Holocaust.

Well, I am one of Jehovah's Witnesses in Japan and I am working for the Holocaust Education program in Japan which is called "Stand Firm" International Holocaust education program. I am a director for this education program in Japan. From Jan/2000 until Dec.31/2001 we are going to have the "Stand Firm" exhibitions and seminars in Japan.

So now we are preparing for the exhibitions and seminars. And we are now making out homepage for our Stand Firm event and we are just wondering if we could link to your Home Page so that more Japanese people who come to our homepage can make the further research on your Homepage. We would appreciate it if you let us know if we could do so. US Wahington Holocaust Memorial Museum already gave us a permission to link to thier home page.

Many Japanese people know just a little about the Holocaust but we are sure that your homepage will help them see the reality of the Holocaust and the importance of tolerance.

I would like to show my appreciation for your taking time to read my e-mail. Other stuffs on our "Stand Firm" Holocaust education program in Japan and I would like to say thank you for your hard work to promote the Holocaust education, the most important education in the world.


Hiroshi Shibayama hiroshiba@ma.neweb.ne.jp