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Walking Our Faith: Have we grieved as a nation?

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson
Walking Our Faith
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

This week, we honored the 19th anniversary of the attacks on Sept. 11 as we have so well each year. We honor the loss of life with bravery and solemnity, which does justice to the innocent lives lost.

Up until 1994, I worked on the 98th floor of Two World Trade Center, and I was in the building in 1993, when the explosion occurred in the garage of One World Trade Center. I had to wait hours with my office colleagues until the firemen came to guide us down the 98 flights of stairs to safety. So years later, when the twin towers were hit, my first instinct was to locate the 98th floor as I watched on TV from my home.

Nearly 3,000 people died that day.

Nearly 200,000 souls have died from the novel coronavirus in the U.S. over the past six months. Two hundred thousand Americans have died through no fault of their own. To say that the numbers are inflated because many who died had underlying health conditions is like saying that those who died on 9/11 had a greater risk because they worked in a tall building or flew on a plane.

One million people have lost a loved one from within their immediate circle. One million grandparents or spouses or parents or children wake each morning to an empty bed.

On Tuesday, I went to Mass at 8 a.m. as I do each week. On this day, the Mass honored Mary in her role as Our Lady of Sorrows. The Mass highlights seven sorrows that she endured as the mother of our savior Jesus Christ. Whether you are Catholic or Christian or not religious at all, Mary’s sorrow can be an example to us because they are sorrows felt by a parent who loses a child, or anyone who shares the suffering of a friend or loved one.

As I sat in Mass, I considered the sorrow we should be feeling for those we have lost to the coronavirus.

I often cite the golden rule, that we should treat others as we would like to be treated, as the minimum of good behavior in a civil and just society. Can we offer those, who have lost so much, compassion based not on their life in a red state or blue state but because we are all Americans? If only because we would want someone to grieve with us if the loss was ours?

I wish our leaders would call for a national day of recognition for those who have died from the coronavirus and for the front-line workers who served them.

We are the No. 1 country in the world for medical breakthroughs, yet the number of American dead is 25% of the world’s coronavirus deaths while we account for just 5% of the world’s population.

By any standard, our response to the virus has been a massive failure. During the greatest pandemic in 100 years, how did we fail to protect the most vulnerable in our population?

I have always felt that my faith is my moral compass. I believe many Americans feel the same. Or if they had no religious beliefs that there was a certain moral standard, that golden rule, to which we hold ourselves and our leaders. I’ve always believed this moral standard was essential to America’s greatness.

I believe we are in danger of losing our moral decency when we parse compassion by political party.

On Wednesday night, I read the draft of this column to my mother, as I do each week. I haven’t seen Mom in person since March because of the pandemic. And that forced separation is another grieving I feel and see in friends who are separated from parents, adult children or siblings. And it breaks my heart.

After I read this column, Mom was concerned that I had crossed the line from faith into politics. Perhaps. But in the past year, I’ve seen faith leaders threaten or question our love for God based on our political affiliation.

That is a grave sin. No one should attempt to separate us from God’s love for us.

I am asking as a person of faith that we acknowledge our failure to meet the challenge of this pandemic. I am asking that we bow our heads and pray, as we have never prayed before, for God’s guidance.

I’m asking that we seek the forgiveness of God for the lives lost by our negligence.

I’m asking that we grieve those we have lost and find compassion for those who have been left behind. We must recover the soul of America.

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com.


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