Dear Mr. Vonnegut,

BY Kurt Vonnegut

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What on earth happened to American journalists so that they let fanatics toy with them?
Andrés Hoyos, Bogota, Colombia

Dear Andrés,
They became rich and famous.
Kurt

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What words of hope and encouragement do you offer your daughter that other parents might borrow?
Sharon Tiplady
Palmer, Alaska

Dear Sharon,
“Know that I will always adore you, dear Lily, and please look both ways before crossing a street.”
Kurt

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I’d love to know your thoughts for a woman of 43 who is finally ready to have children but is wary of bringing new lives into such a frightening world.
Elizabeth Gratch
Ypsilanti, Michigan

Dear Elizabeth,
Don’t do it! It could be another George W. Bush or Lucrezia Borgia.

The kid would be lucky to be born into a society where even the poor people are overweight, but unlucky to be in one without a national health plan or decent public education for most, where lethal injection and warfare are forms of entertainment, and where it costs an arm and a leg to go to college. This would not be the case if the kid were a Canuck or Swede or Limey or Frog or Kraut. So either go on practicing safe sex or emigrate.
Kurt

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Does the act of writing or painting somehow balance out or put off the monstrous acts staining our collective history?
Rick Stoeckel
Chicago

Dear Rick,
You betcha! Same way a hot fudge sundae cures the clap! Kurt

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I am a 19-year-old Harvard University freshman, and I hope you take the time to respond to this message because I know it speaks to a large bracket of the silent youth in our country.

Amidst the jaded, tough-guy rhetoric of our country’s leadership, I am constantly reminded that I am an important part of “the future of America.” But I don’t want to be part of the America that the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz axis is leading us toward. How can more war lead to more peace? How can arrogance and active ignorance make friends?

As a young person, I love the fact that my future is wide open and uncharted. But adults often say that idealism is for dreamers. I refuse to accept this, but in a country run by people who think “idealism” is synonymous with “radicalism,” I often wonder: Is there realism in idealism?

Young people today have no spiritual leader like Martin Luther King Jr. to revere. We have tuned out because America’s leadership has tuned us out. Politicians don’t speak to us or to our issues, and yet we are the ones who will inherit the world they leave us with. Where can we find hope? I know it’s there, but where has the idealism gone?

So it goes.
Seamus McKiernan
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Dear Seamus,
Thank goodness you’re not at Yale, which is completely walled off, along with Skull and Bones, from the working stiffs. It so happens that idealism enough for anyone is not made of perfumed pink clouds. It is the law! It is the U.S. Constitution.
Kurt

Got a question for Mr. Vonnegut? Write to [email protected].

Kurt Vonnegut, the legendary author, WWII veteran, humanist, artist and smoker, was an In These Times senior editor until his death in April 2007. His classic works include Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions and Cat's Cradle, among many others. The last book by him published before his death, A Man Without a Country (2005), collects many of the articles he wrote for this magazine.

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