Waly Diabira

Notebook
Letters


April 25, 2005
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Tuesday, May. 10, 2005
The Shape of Things to Come
Readers marveled at our cover story on architectural innovations, pointing out mankind's intrinsic desire to leave a creative mark. But some wondered whether, despite all the attention being lavished on revolutionaries like Daniel Libeskind, there isn't still a bias toward tall boxes

I'm envious of what adventuresome architects are achieving today with their unconventional, unearthly designs [April 25]. When I studied architecture in the early '70s, "Form follows function" was the mantra, and I was criticized for advocating any concept that dared to stray from the shoe-box straitjacket. But times have changed. Besides, when you are famous and in demand, people will readily embrace even your weirdest creations. Anyway, I doff my hat to architects like Daniel Libeskind who enrich our design vocabulary.
Sammy Somekh
Ramat Gan, Israel

Ever since the advent of angels and cathedrals, height has fascinated us. Today's sculpted towers capitalize on an ancient inclination. Daniel Libeskind, Zaha Hadid and Arata Isozaki have created fantasy buildings. But where are the new, exciting projects to please the millions of people worldwide who don't like heights? I'm delighted to be living near our town's elegant modernist De La Warr Pavilion, the architectural toast of 1935. This low-rise was designed by Erich Mendelsohn and Serge Chermayeff when landscape buildings were fashionable. Vertical may be victorious, but horizontal is happier.
Allan Bula
Bexhill on Sea, England

Lingering Racism
Your article "a difficult lesson" described the racism that persists in South Africa 10 years after the end of apartheid [April 25]. I am an Italian, and I have lived in Durban, South Africa, on and off for four years. The first time was when apartheid was still dominant. The second time was when apartheid was on the verge of collapse. I have also visited the country on vacation and was there just last Christmas. I have seen enormous changes for the better over the years. Nowadays people are much friendlier and more willing to communicate. South Africans of all colors mingle in restaurants and movie houses and on buses and trains. Black kids dress and behave like any other youngsters. If children go to school and grow up together regardless of race, they will be able to stay friends for life and better understand other cultures.
Vanna Taddeucci
Florence

My compliments on your excellent article about the subtle racism that still divides South African society. That may worsen in our second decade of democracy, as the idealists of the struggle and the survivors of oppression increasingly move out of public life. Our quality of life may decline if people fail to recognize capitalism's ills, like greed and self-complacency, and if they lack compassion for their neighbors. We have to pin our hopes on the possibility that enough South Africans have embraced the most fundamental value of our constitution: human dignity.
Dan Badenhorst
Cape Town

Days of Rage
Time vividly depicted the anti-Japanese sentiment brewing in China as well as the political and economic effects of the dispute on both countries and the rest of the world [April 25]. Your story noted that the real debate is not over "a failure to atone for old sins. The issue is which country, Japan or China, will be the dominant Asian power of the 21st century." Financial and commercial considerations must prevail over the political and nationalistic views that have been given prime importance until now. It is a change for the better that politicians have started thinking about the welfare of their citizenry on all fronts and are realizing they need to make efforts to bring about a better standard of living through economic cooperation and development.
Arvind A. Choudhari
Belfast

Those Chinese who protest against the whitewashing of World War II events in Japanese textbooks have often been presented as a mindless mob. Suppose, however, that a German textbook claimed Nazi actions during the war were justified as a defense against Jews and communists. There would understandably be a huge uproar across Europe. Japan's wartime atrocities were crimes against humanity comparable to those in Europe, yet they have been below our moral radar.
John Butler
Kidderminster, England

You reported that Chinese premier Wen Jiabao snubbed Japan's bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, saying, "Only a country that respects history... [and] wins over the trust of people in Asia and the world at large can take greater responsibilities in the international community." But it can be pointed out with some justification that China is endangering the economic prosperity of a large part of the earth's people, making itself a pariah state and a joke.
Sonam Rinchen
Hong Kong

The views of China and South Korea are poorly understood outside Asia. For better or for worse, the West tends to give Japan the benefit of the doubt. Is it because the Japanese have been making cars and TVs better and longer than the Chinese or the Koreans? Some of the resentment held by China and Korea against Japan stems from nationalism and economic jockeying for resources, but that's not why people mutilate themselves or jump from bridges.
Edward Kim
Fullerton, California, U.S.

African Heroine
I read with interest the Time 100 list of influential people [April 18]. Thank you for including Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan Member of Parliament who won the Nobel Peace Prize for founding the environmentalist Green Belt Movement in her country. As your story noted, it is not easy being green in the developing world. The showcasing of Maathai along with several other achievers from Africa will continue to inform the world that even though the political and economic steps of development are still being choreographed, Africa has the intellectual ability to promote the peaceful and economic fortunes of its people.
Daniel A. Owujie
Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Singapore's Downside
The Time 100 profile of Singapore's senior statesman Lee Kuan Yew [April 18] left no doubt that he has designed and developed a modern city–state that is a role model for Asian economies. Your story unambiguously described the power of this "philosopher king" in shaping Singapore's well-organized system of administration and boarding-school culture of strict conformity. There are, however, side effects to his social engineering. The new generation of this extremely orderly city has almost forgotten human values and social obligations. Young people can't even plan to get married because of the extremely high cost of living. If married, they dare not start a family, owing to the cost of bringing up a child. The university produces good test takers but not world-class techies ready to take up challenging and innovative tasks in today's global environment.
Suresh Kumar Parappurath
Bangalore, India

Pope John Paul II
Although the Pope would have understood the worldwide sense of loss at his death [April 11], I do not believe he would have viewed this outpouring of compassion as necessary. He faced death the same way he faced life, with perseverance and faith, knowing that life is not ours to control. He knew he would die when God decided it was time. We have only begun to realize the Pope's personal commitment to uniting the world in peace and faith. It is frequently said that a person left the world a better place than he found it, but that is so often not true. The greatness of John Paul II's papacy is that he genuinely influenced the world for the better.
Dan Stewart
Ashburn, Virginia, U.S.

I am puzzled by the worldwide emotional reactions of sorrow and emptiness caused by the Pope's death. True believers should realize that his suffering has ended and he is home now with God. I understand a certain degree of nostalgia, but for people to focus collectively on the worldly death rather than the rewards of heaven tells me that their faith is earthbound. That is an emotional negation of Jesus Christ's spiritual promise of eternal life. True believers should be cheering John Paul's departure and longing for the day they meet again with him in God's very own realm.
Humberto Sarkis
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.

Imagine: the realpolitik savvy of a Henry Kissinger combined with the moral code of a Mother Teresa. John Paul II's worldliness combined with his faith in the other world made him a remarkably effective global leader.
John Anderson
Elkmont, Alabama, U.S.

From the May. 23, 2005 issue of TIME Europe magazine





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