Meet our letter writers: Charles S. Merrill

Retired German professor, Georgetown; married with two daughters, the eldest a professional musician; three granddaughters and son-in-law a respected scientist; like to write (poetry, songs, commentary), play guitar and solve problems.

What motivates you to write?

To stimulate thought. Good thinking does not arise in a vacuum. Everyone saying the same thing is rarely more than a noisy vacuum. Dialogue with other active, articulate minds can, however, bring brilliant results. Moreover, true dialogue is great fun.

What shaped your view of the world?

Three things: a broad education; decades of living and teaching on two continents; and love. The first awakened me to the arts, science, history, the wonders of nature — and the wealth of man's triumphs and follies. The second delivered empirical confirmation of the former, hints of life's richness and variety, and the sad revelation that so many humans prefer ignorance and greed. Love nurtures the soul and eases all difficulties.