Opinion | Let’s Plant Wildflowers in the National Mall

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To the Editor:

Re “Fill the National Mall With Wildflowers,” by Alexander Nazaryan (Opinion guest essay, Aug. 11):

What a timely and terrific idea Mr. Nazaryan proposes. Let’s replace the clipped, monotonous lawns of our National Mall with gardens of wildflowers, he writes. Create meadows! Variety and color! These fields would provide habitat for the bees, butterflies and other essential insects that are losing their homes to development and chemically maintained landscaping.

And, incidentally, these 18 acres of gardens and meadows will pull tons of carbon from the atmosphere and bury it in the soil.

What an opportunity to show visitors our national heritage of wildflowers. And what a chance to show young tourists how plants create a livable atmosphere for us.

We can model our future on the National Mall. If millions of suburban gardeners and thousands of farmers follow suit in restoring lawns and fields to meadows of wildflowers and multi-crop fields, free of chemicals, we could be on our way to regenerate the earth and save ourselves a place in the future!

Deborah Lake Fortson
Brookline, Mass.
The writer is a member of Brookline Pollinator Pathways.

To the Editor:

Mr. Nazaryan’s piece on wildflower lawns is wonderful to consider. A few photoshopped pictures of the National Mall full of wildflowers would have made it perfect.

I am delighted with my wildflower lawn in Longmont, Colo., on a small residential lot. In 2022, my water bill was reduced by 25,000 gallons after I stopped watering my lawn, even though I maintained extensive flower and vegetable gardens. Mother Nature also helped kill the lawn by withholding any significant rain and snow for the first six months of 2022.

This all followed a severe drought in late 2021, which contributed to a massive grassland fire in Boulder County that burned over 1,000 homes in December. I’d had enough of my lawn.

Now I enjoy more colors, heights of vegetation and varied shades of green in our yard than I have ever had. The ground always seems damp, even with bright sun and low humidity, which is typical for our local climate. Birds and bees are all over it.

We owe it to the planet for working its magic. Our monotonous and high maintenance green carpet was a poor substitute.

David Bishton
Longmont, Colo.

To the Editor:

I’m an ecologist in Washington, D.C., and I love low-water landscaping and wilding lawns — but the National Mall is land used for large events like concerts, Fourth of July fireworks, rallies, marches, protests, gatherings, sun bathing, soccer games, chasing kids around, kite festivals and more. And it’s used by hundreds of thousands of people for some of these events.

It cannot be full of wildflowers and, no, wildflowers are not easy to maintain in this sort of scenario.

There is a section by the Tidal Basin south of the Washington Monument where flowers are planted that the author may enjoy, though it’s a small lot. Wildflowers on the Mall, though, would remove space for us to play. And we do play!

Yes, its maintenance is expensive — but the National Mall is not an ecological disaster. It’s an event space.

K. Spain

Indicted Lawyers

To the Editor:

Re “Why Are So Many of Trump’s Alleged Co-Conspirators Lawyers?,” by Deborah Pearlstein (Opinion guest essay, Aug. 15):

Reading Ms. Pearlstein’s excellent essay, I was reminded of Anne Applebaum’s observation in her book “Twilight of Democracy”: “Authoritarians need the people who will promote the riot or launch the coup. But they also need the people who can use sophisticated legal language, people who can argue that breaking the constitution or twisting the law is the right thing to do.”

Stronger ethics rules and laws, bolstered by the prosecutions and bar expulsions we are witnessing, will help, but ultimately, the problem is more fundamental.

What Ms. Pearlstein refers to as a root cause — increased polarization of the legal profession — may be better described as a lack of commitment to democratic principles and, in some cases, a simple lack of character.

Michael Curry
Austin, Texas

To the Editor:

Deborah Pearlstein’s guest essay on the politicization of the legal profession is spot on and reflects the larger problem with the legal profession today: an erosion of ethics.

An old joke claims that “legal ethics” is an oxymoron; it is not a joke today. I believe that this is the reason a decreasing number of lawyers are members of the American Bar Association; the ethics code of the A.B.A., and associated state bar associations, is not compatible with their practice of law.

Thomas Cox
Richmond, Va.

Sununu’s ‘Wishful Thinking’

To the Editor:

Re “If Republicans Narrow the Field, We Will Beat Trump,” by Gov. Christopher T. Sununu (Opinion guest essay, nytimes.com, Aug. 21):

Yes, narrowing the field would help Republicans beat Donald Trump for the nomination, but Mr. Sununu is engaging in wishful thinking when he says that at this week’s debate, the other leading candidates should “break free of Mr. Trump’s drama, step out of his shadow.”

That’s not possible for these debate participants, every one of whom will have signed a pledge to support the nominee — even if it’s Mr. Trump and even if he’s a convicted felon by November 2024.

Moreover, even candidates like Chris Christie and Mike Pence, who now criticize Mr. Trump’s actions regarding the last presidential election, supported him all through the prior four years of his disastrous presidency.

Mr. Sununu says the Republican Party needs to refocus “on a nominee dedicated to saving America.” In fact, it’s the Republican Party that needs saving from its current crop of leaders and candidates.

Jeff Burger
Ridgewood, N.J.

End the Ukraine War

To the Editor:

“Peace Activists Decide Ukraine Is an Exception” (front page, Aug. 15) correctly reports on how many progressive voices have been quiet on the war. But religious leaders, up to and including Pope Francis, as well as several faith groups like my own (Quakers), have been actively pressing to end the war and support the arduous work of peacemaking.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis met with President Volodymyr Zelensky at the Vatican and called for a cease-fire and negotiations. Hundreds of religious leaders have now signed a letter in support of his call and are advocating an end to the war once and for all.

You don’t have to be a pope or a pacifist to recognize the perils inherent in continued military escalation — for Ukrainians, Russians and the world. President Biden and Congress must invest much more in seeking a diplomatic path out of the conflict rather than relying on endless military aid. Peacemaking won’t be easy. It never is.

But war is not the answer.

Bridget Moix
The writer is the general secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

DeSantis and the Ivies

To the Editor:

Re “The Elites He Now Targets Gave DeSantis a Leg Up” (front page, Aug. 22):

Ron DeSantis was so embittered by his exposure to elite liberalism at Yale that when he graduated, he went to Harvard Law School. You cannot make that up!

Stephen T. Schreiber
Princeton, N.J.

Pain Patients Deserve Answers

To the Editor:

Re “They Live in Constant Pain, but Their Doctors Won’t Help Them,” by Vishakha Darbha, Lucy King and Adam Westbrook (Opinion Video, Aug. 17):

I’ve seen too many patients suffering from chronic pain who’ve been told it is in their heads or that nothing can be done. Believing that it’s acceptable to live with pain is unacceptable. If someone has pain, something is wrong. Ongoing pain after a previous trauma or surgical procedure may signal that a nerve is injured, which is an overlooked cause of chronic pain because it is hard to detect through imaging.

Neuropathic pain, sometimes called the “invisible illness,” is the most common type of chronic pain, affecting one in 10 people. Yet many health care providers and patients don’t understand nerve injuries, how common they are, and the correlation to ongoing pain. It’s not unusual for people to see more than 20 providers before seeing a surgeon who specializes in nerves. This is not OK.

People deserve to know that nerve injuries can often be surgically repaired. It’s time they get the answers and care they deserve.

Adam B. Strohl
The writer is a surgeon at the Philadelphia Hand to Shoulder Center.

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