Our cover story on the fragile state of the Lascaux cave caused readers to wonder anew at the treasures in southwestern France, and to worry over the threats posed both by natural damage and by the French authorities, who at times have seemed most concerned with protecting themselves
Thank you for shining a worldwide light on the crisis in Lascaux, France [May 15]. Clearly the cave and its irreplaceable paintings are still at grave risk. The French government must end its secretive handling of the cave, the crisis and attempted treatments. A truly international, independent group of scientists and experts in cave art and conservation should be allowed to monitor and report to the world on the cave and its health. Lascaux is not an heirloom of French or even Western culture. It is an expression of the earliest experience of being human. The Lascaux discovery in 1940 redefined what was previously known about human beings' creative development and ability to construct image from abstract thought. That critical leap and the resulting tangible evidence are invaluable to understanding global human heritage. Imagine if the great library of Alexandria survived today. How much richer would the world and collective human culture be if we could draw from that vast collection of ancient knowledge? The Lascaux cave is our proto-Alexandria, humanity's library of prehistory from the dawn of our ancestors' impulse to record. We must take immediate steps to ensure that generations of our descendants have the benefit of Lascaux's lessons.
Melody K. Di Piazza
International Committee for the Preservation of Lascaux
New York City
While some may criticize the deal that former President Bill Clinton made with soda companies to remove high-calorie, sugary drinks from school vending machines, at least he made a deal [May 15]. Parents, ptas and school boards have apparently been unable to muster similar strength to teach kids and vendors that the availability of soda is not a right. Some people lament the loss of revenue from the drink machines, but since when did revenue rate higher than the health of our kids? We as a nation must accept that until we change our eating habits and teach our children how to make better eating choices, we will not resolve our health problems.
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
At a time when sports and other extracurricular activities are being cut from schools throughout the U.S., solely getting rid of soda and other sugar-filled drinks is a Band-Aid for a bigger problem. Although I understand how those drinks help contribute to the problems of obesity and Type 2 diabetes faced by our youth, we must not forget that physical education and sports programs, which also prevent obesity and diabetes, are being trimmed from inner-city school budgets every year. I commend the Clinton Foundation for its efforts, but I suggest that its campaign be extended to highlight the importance of the health-essential programs that are being eliminated from U.S. school budgets.
Mawusi Khadija Watson
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
I applaud clinton and his allies for working to get sugar out of our schools. But as a parent who has served sodas and other treats to my kids and their teammates following baseball, basketball and soccer games, I can tell you that the blame for childhood obesity resides not in our vending machines but in ourselves.
Roseville, Minnesota, U.S.
That the soft-drink companies have agreed to remove sugar-filled soft drinks from school vending machines is certainly a step in the right direction, but it doesn't address the issue of another ingredient kids are addicted to: caffeine. Replacing sugary caffeinated soft drinks with artificially sweetened caffeinated soft drinks isn't much of an improvement. I say, Get rid of all sodas in our schools.
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
I was favorably impressed by Clinton's deal with the U.S.'s three biggest beverage manufacturers to expel sugary drinks from school vending machines and substitute bottled water, unsweetened fruit juices, low-fat milk and sugar-free sodas. Clinton is setting a good example by using his influence to improve the quality of nutrition at U.S. schools. Although many American schoolkids are of the opinion that his campaign is futile, since sweetened drinks will still be available at after-school events, his struggle is the first step toward helping young people become health-conscious. I wish I had been offered healthful nutrition at
The days just before and after high-sugar holidays like Halloween and Valentine's Day constitute a veritable sucrose feeding frenzy in schools. Many school clubs and organizations depend on the sale of overpriced candy bars and other sugar-laden snacks as a fund-raising tool. There is seldom a time during the school year when some group is not selling some sugary treat. And obviously, if students buy it, they're going to eat it.
Richard Lee Hunter
Spiro, Oklahoma, U.S.
World's Movers and Shakers
I was truly saddened and disappointed that you omitted any mention of Aung San Suu Kyi in your selection of the 100 Most Influential People. I participated in the People Power Revolution of 1986 against Ferdinand Marcos and I know how important it is that we commemorate and emulate individuals who have proved their love for democracy through self-sacrifice and unwavering principles. By overlooking Suu Kyi your magazine has shown just how quickly the world can forget people who are really inspirational and influential.
Maria Therese Lee
Mandaluyong City, the Philippines
The world's most influential people are always behind the scenes [May 8]. The "Artists & Entertainers" selected for the Time 100 are undoubtedly the world's most well known, but not the most influential ones. Real influence has the same nature as real political power: it's under the surface, and very rarely or in some cases never can be seen by the public. An entertainer, however famous and accepted, can't affect the world as much as, for example, the companies whose financing is the most important issue in producing a film or an album. To me, that's what real influence is.
Your presentation of the time 100 was heart warming. Your selections of the world's influential people portend a bright future for mankind, especially the King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. There will surely come a time when despots, dictators and presidents-for-life (of the kind found in Africa) will be a miserable minority among world leaders. Those like the King will no longer be described as suprising. Able and people-oriented leadership will have become a norm and no longer an aberration.
Gabriel A. Amadi
Aiming for New Gamers
Nintendo's new game controller is quite intriguing [May 15]. As a nongamer, I quickly saw beyond its recreational use to its potential in other areas. For example, could the movement and motion described as part of the gaming experience be incorporated into a program of rehabilitation therapy for people recovering from
illness or injury? Could that be used as part of a strengthening program for older adults? If Nintendo is looking for new markets, perhaps its engineers and developers should meet with some physical-therapy experts and explore the possibilities.
Muscoda, Wisconsin, U.S.
Nintendo believes that nongamers do not play video games because they are "really hard" and the "learning curve is steep." As a nongamer, I have another take: we do not play video games because we prefer fresh air and sunshine, exercise, good books and conventional card and board games that allow us to interact with other humans.
Asheville, North Carolina, U.S.
"A game for all ages" reported that Nintendo hopes its new game controller, which senses a player's hand movements, will appeal to girls and grandparents. As a female gamer who has been playing video games since the days of Pac-Man, I am always amused by game companies that feel the need to target female gamers. Not one of the games aimed at girls has appealed to me. You know what I want in a game? How about realistic female characters instead of bouncy, skinny, half-naked ones? I've given up playing female characters in any game because of how they look. Does anyone really believe female warriors ran around wearing little more than a metal brassiere? If Nintendo is serious about wanting to reach the female audience, it should treat us with some respect. We like questing too!
Santa Clara, California, U.S.
Faith and Politics
Columnist Andrew Sullivan, in his essay "My Problem with Christianism" [May 15], drew a distinction between Christianity and faith-based conservatism and expressed what many of us in the mainline denominations have been thinking and feeling for a while. Although I hate to admit it, there have been occasions when I have been embarrassed to tell others I am a minister, not because I am ashamed of Christ or of my calling but because of the association that often gets made between people of faith and a particular political or social ideology. It is past time for those of us who believe in the all-inclusive love of God as found in Jesus to speak out against the intolerant, narrow understanding of grace held by some who call themselves Christian.
(The Rev.) David W. Burt
Billings, Montana, U.S.
Christ calls us to "make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28: 19); that is a call to action, not inaction. Christians are obligated to engage the culture, and the political arena is no exception. Christ continues to challenge Christians today! Lukewarm Christianity is indefensible. Christians living out their faith may take comfort in Holy Scripture: "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you" (John 15: 18).
Susan D. Cutaia
Boca Raton, Florida, U.S.
When Christianity and politics are mixed, both are corrupted. How is it that today's politicians have ignored the profound wisdom of the Founding Fathers and injected religion into their politics? As a Christian and a Republican, my faith informs my politics, but I do not use my faith as a political weapon. It's about time that Republicans study their history and remember the words of Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President. In the midst of the Civil War, he humbly refused to claim God as a partisan for his political cause, saying, "Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right."
Orange, California, U.S.
I am mystified by the ability of liberal Christians to unself-consciously redefine Christianity at will. Sullivan asked how we can know what an "ultimately unknowable" God wants of us. Well, we know that through Scripture, and that is what ultimately defines Christianity. Sullivan is free to hold whatever beliefs he likes, but he shouldn't call himself a Christian unless he believes the tenets that define Christianity in the first place.
Poway, California, U.S.
Sullivan's essay was the most concise contemporary statement of the intellectual and religious grounds for our Founding Fathers' commitment to the separation of church and state. Our President has on occasion insisted that our battle with terrorism is not with those of the Muslim faith. His rhetoric and frequent statements that link his political positions to his religious faith, however, do little to reassure those around the globe that the present Administration is not striving to achieve a Christian theocracy. Never in U.S. history has it been so important for Americans to carefully examine the
relationship among religion, faith
Woodland, California, U.S.
As someone who spent years in Roman Catholic schools, I have never felt so alienated from the very idea of Christianity and all its sociopolitical implications as I do today. When the end comes for me, I'm banking on God's being an independent.
Erin M. Griffin
Kingston, Pennsylvania, U.S.
I appreciated Sullivan's stating the truth about Christianism and Christianists very appropriate terms and the similarities Christianists have with Islamists. Let me add, however, that no matter which beliefs people adhere to, instead of blindly following out-of-context phrases from ancient, and therefore dare I say slightly out-of-date books, I would pray for humanity that these people would finally turn their brains on. Certainly no faith in this world requires anybody to be a mindless, raving conqueror in the name of religion of all things!