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My wish for Minnesota and our nation in 2019 is that we all accept and adhere to the essential, ethical principles of communication: A fact is a fact; an opinion is an opinion; the truth is the truth; a lie is a lie.

Imagine the possibilities!

Kathy Sevig, Eden Prairie

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Paul J. Croce’s commentary on New Year’s resolutions and finding meaning through focus was insightful (“Which resolution should we make to achieve happiness?” Jan. 1).

Paraphrasing the studies by research psychologist Martin Seligman, Richard N. Bolles and John E. Nelson suggested that there are three approaches to happiness: pleasure, engagement and meaning.

Pleasure is the immediate positive reinforcement you get from doing something you like. Its duration is usually short, lasting as long as the activity itself. Examples include enjoying a good meal or hitting a good golf shot. These provide positive reinforcement and very-short-term pleasure.

Engagement is the happiness that results from losing yourself in something you are doing. Engagement involves effort on your behalf to successfully overcome some challenge, and that additional reinforcement imprints the feeling of the experience more strongly and gives the resulting happiness a longer duration.

Meaning is an approach to happiness that results from using your abilities in service to something larger than yourself. Common examples of service include actions done on behalf of family, friends, your community, or a host of social or religious causes. The positive feedback from these pursuits is amplified by the recognition of one’s efforts by others and can last a lifetime.

Need proof? Just ask some of the volunteers who help with food shelves, homeless shelters, Habitat for Humanity, Free Bikes for Kidz, and many other national and local service organizations. “Meaning through focus on a significant purpose” can be a call to action in which those serving are also rewarded.

Thomas L. Romens, St. Paul

DIVERSITY IN MINNESOTA

An addendum to plea to tap values, knowledge, resources

The Dec. 28 commentary “State must tap the gifts of American Indians, people of color ” by Elaine Salinas, John Poupart and Joe Nathan, was excellent. I would like to address the last two bullet points: “What will be learned and applied from the wisdom of indigenous people and people of color?” and “How will Minnesota leaders use the expertise, skill and insights of American Indians and people of color to help solve pressing problems?”

I want to bring attention and recognition to the administration and staff of the Division of Indian Work, a nongovernmental organization. They have been working diligently in the Native American community for more than 66 years addressing these issues. To quote from the organization’s website (diw-mn.org): “The Division of Indian Work (DIW) has been a key contributor to the Native community for more than 66 years. Our mission is to empower urban American Indians through culturally-based education, counseling, advocacy and leadership development.” Two major DIW programs are the Horizons Unlimited food shelf and Youth Leadership Development Program. HU has provided food for the Twin Cities American Indian community since 1952 and remains the only culturally sensitive food shelf serving the west metro American Indian population; YLDP has worked to empower American Indian youths since 1980.

This organization could shed light on addressing the issues in this opinion essay. We should learn from it and support it in any way we can, as a state and as individuals.

Elizabeth McCambridge, Minneapolis

OPINION SELECTIONS

In defense of Peter Leschak and his defense of wildlife

Since I have never had to spend time in a foxhole, I should not be the final judge of who would and would not be a reliable companion in such a place, but I am puzzled by the Dec. 29 letter writer who finds Peter M. Leschak unsuitable based on his Leschak’s account of rescuing a nuthatch from inside a post office (“The Nuthatch Suite,” Dec 23). Leschak is a trained and experienced firefighter, one willing to volunteer. It seems to me that his courage under threat, his willingness to face danger on behalf of others, the emergency training he surely must have, and his genuine kindness — enough to rescue a trapped wild bird — would make him an ideal companion in a foxhole. I’d take him.

W. Bruce Benson, Northfield

• • •

I loved Leschak’s “Nuthatch Suite.” His idea to use the cutoff portion of a balsam sapling to lure and thus save the red-breasted nuthatch (my favorite) was brilliant. I bet that there are lots of people who don’t have “girlie feelings” when saving an animal, as the Dec. 29 letter writer states, but who just want to do the right thing. Check out the great work done at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota (wrcmn.org), where compassionate people take thousands of injured birds and other critters. I’m hoping that the letter writer is the only one who would ridicule saving a bird and mix politics with human nature.

Kathleen Danyo, Minneapolis

BIKE LANES

As photo shows (though letter writer misses it), everyone benefits

Thank you to the Dec. 31 letter writer (“Bike lanes: There is, too, an imbalance”) who shared a picture unwittingly showing exactly why the intersection of 11th Avenue S. and 2nd Street S. in Minneapolis has so vastly improved since the installation of permanent bike lanes. Apparently, visiting Guthrie audiences, Vikings fans and suburban commuters passing through our residential corner of the Mill District needed physical barriers to remind them of such quaint concepts as 1) actually stopping at a stop sign, 2) not cutting off a bicyclist in the bike lane when making a right turn, and 3) yielding the right of way to a dog walker trying to cross the street. The stanchions and curbs for the bike lanes have slowed vehicular traffic, YES!, because the road is for everyone — cars, buses, delivery trucks, bicycles, scooters, pedestrians. This corner is much safer, and I appreciate the changes every day. The horn honkers can learn a little patience and respect for the neighborhood they are cutting through.

Carla Pavone, Minneapolis

RELIGIOUS BELIEFS

Faith vs. reason in war and beyond

Recent letter writers have professed their abiding belief in faith, its power and that of prayer. One Dec. 29 letter invoked the resort of many soldiers in World War II to prayer. The last comment compels me to respond.

I was not a combat soldier, but my dad was. He fought his way across the Pacific in World War II as a U.S. Marine tank commander. This included his near-death from a mine as his platoon attacked across Motoyama No. 2 airfield on Iwo Jima. I asked him whether his fellow Marines resorted to prayer in battle — that is, is the popular narrative that “there are no atheists in foxholes” true?

He was in three major island campaigns with the Third Marine Division and he said about half the Marines did go to prayer services in the ships. The others, like him, did not, nor did they pray in battle. There was no evidence that faith played a role in selecting the dead and wounded.

History is replete with many documented horrors of religion, as well as stories of the relief it provides to many minds. But two quotes have remained with me as I have explored the question of faith.

First, renowned physicist Steven Weinberg said: “With or without [religion], you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

Second, Scottish philosopher James Mill stated: “Think of a being who would make a Hell, who would create the human race with the infallible foreknowledge and therefore with the intention that the great majority of them would be consigned to horrible and everlasting torment.”

The former sums up my view of much of religion; the latter, the disturbing irrationality of it.

William Udseth, Bloomington