To the editor:
Saturday, our letter carrier delivered to our house a letter from a friend in North Dakota who is an adult with Down syndrome. He wrote us a two-page letter thanking us for our Christmas card and regaling us in wonderful detail with the things he had done with his family over the Christmas holidays.
He had addressed the letter by hand, and his awkward cursive hand-writing filled the face of the No. 10 envelope. He had our street address correct, but he spelled our town name wrong, and he wrote our zip code as 49939. Yet the letter reached us, thanks to the effort of the dedicated professionals in the U.S. Postal Service who work in a spirit of public service.
I call this incident to your attention as the U.S. Congress debates what to do with the Postal Service, given its budget problems. For two centuries, our nation has maintained a mail system that makes long-distance communication between individuals possible regardless of class or gender, even if the address is slightly wrong. The Founders knew that egalitarian access to the mail is one of the bedrocks of our democratic ideals. People who work for the Postal Service remain steeped in that tradition of public service. We thank them.
Computers and the corporate giants that now play increasing roles in linking use are not steeped in a sense of service to civil society. As we establish new frameworks for communications systems, what will we do to ensure that those systems are intentionally dedicated to serving all, to fostering our democratic principles, and to connecting us, something our postal system has been doing for more than two hundred years.