I am writing in response to the article regarding contraceptives ("Control Issues," Oct. 9). As a young woman who is taking oral contraceptives, I understand Edith's point. I pay about $10 a month for pills which I order via the Internet. As much as I would like to have my health insurance cover that cost, I have a problem with that. First of all, birth control is not something I take to cure any illness. It prevents me from getting pregnant, which is my choice. Contraception doesn't fall into the category of "basic health care." It's preventative medicine. Insurance doesn't cover my gym membership or someone's high blood pressure medicine, which are both used to prevent future problems. Why should they? That is an individual choice. If a woman who is having sex doesn't want a child, then she should pay to prevent that. There are alternative, less expensive ways of doing so. Why should other insurance payers, who are paying an arm and a leg for insurance already, have their rates increased because I don't want a child right now?
A native Louisianian who spent high school years in Westchester County, New York, I recently returned up north for my 30th high school reunion.
The planes flew and the trains ran. And the reunion was a joyful outpouring of long time friendships, despite the recent tragedies and the ongoing uncertainties.
There was one change to my plans. Instead of a self-indulgent mode of shopping and pampering that was planned, I felt the strong need to find a way to lend a hand to those who are striving day and night in the city of culture and caution.
I work for the United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area, where I had spent the past two weeks assisting with the organizational response to the Sept. 11 tragedies. I, too, lost friends and colleagues -- and not for the first time in this world encumbered by global terrorism.
Rather than feeling helpless, I called our New York offices and volunteered for the day. I was welcomed into the tumult of the success of the September 11th Fund and the broadcast telethon honoring America's heroes. I opened envelopes from around the world. There were checks for $1 and checks for $100,000. There were checks in U.S. dollars, Canadian dollars and British pounds. I personally handled several thousand checks that totalled nearly $350,000. And I was one of six people doing the same job on that one day.
The mail came from around the world. There were letters and checks from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, India, Iran, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Scotland and Switzerland.
My colleagues that day were Bank of New York employees displaced from their offices shattered by debris. They, too, lost colleagues who ran from safety to help others. The mood was somber, yet positive. We laughed and we wept when reading letters to each other. We rejoiced in the cards from children across the world, in particular the Aboriginal children of Alice Springs, Australia, who send their love and support to "you mob" -- and that means every one of us.
I returned to New Orleans on the second day of the month following the travesties (months don't need names just yet). I am different from when I left last week. I know there is hope and love for us throughout the world. The sheer immensity of the continuing contributions promises and affirms the goodness of humanity. And there is more.
There is strength and loyalty to our own communities. There are needs we can address right here, right now. Our United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area has instituted the United Response Fund to help our community through this crisis. The hurt of Sept. 11 is felt across every community in this country and soon will be felt across every nation. Economic woes are not new -- they are persistently "around the corner." Well, the corner has been turned, and we are standing at the junction with a green light that says give to United Way as your heart dictates and as you see the need. Look after your neighbors and the people who need you now more than ever. Support the power of community through your donations and fight terrorism's evil with love for the family that is New Orleans.
And that is love from NYC to LA.
Marketing Manager and Northshore Division Communications Liaison
United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area
chomsky no hitchens
The ever-lively Andrei Codrescu does a disservice by lumping Noam Chomsky in with the dotty Revs. Falwell and Robertson and the spotty Christopher Hitchens as fringe lunatics (Penny Post, Sept. 25). Since the American war in Vietnam, Chomsky has made principled investigations into the miseries caused by our actions overseas and the propaganda system that allows it to happen. He has consistently exposed his most thoughtful critics in rebuttal, always led by the true scientific approach of seeking interpretation of events that has the most "explanatory power." As America's leading dissident, he is booked years in advance for hundreds of annual speaking engagements here and in foreign lands. No one would agree with the dissident in a sound bite forum, but some with open minds are trying to understand where the kind of anger and hate of a suicide hijacking could come from, and Chomsky's work holds clues. Codrescu of all people should be more understanding of the role of the dissident.
Timothy H. Lyman