“If we would read the secret history of our worst enemies, we would find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.” Longfellow

Our country is so divided, so at odds with itself, that many have lost sight of compassion. This pandemic has caused sorrow and suffering across the board. You and virtually all your friends have experienced loss in this past year: a loved one, a job, the ability to hug and interact with family and friends, financial security, food security, a home. Interestingly, most of your enemies have also suffered loss, sometimes in the extreme.

Perhaps this is what we have in common right now: loss, sorrow and suffering. Maybe Longfellow’s words present a way out of our current hostility. Look closely. Even those who disagree with us politically have suffered greatly in this pandemic. If your gut reaction to that comment is to blame some political opponent for all the suffering, consider this: This pandemic was not caused by a political party. It was not some malicious act of a foreign or domestic foe intending to do you harm. No one wants this.

For a moment, think about the sorrow that you and your loved ones have experienced. Now recognize that those you disagree with have suffered the same kind of loss. Can we, just for a few moments at a time, disarm our hostilities long enough to care about the losses we all have experienced? If you have experienced no loss, how lucky you are. For a few moments, can you acknowledge that others have lost something? Can we cut each other some slack recognizing that in sorrow, we are not always at our best? Can you see that the lady in front of you in line at the grocery store may be experiencing the worst depression of her life? Can we suppress our anger and let our compassion speak, even for just a short time?

And in that compassion, could we do everything within our power to stop the sorrow and suffering? Infectious disease thrives on rapid transmission. It doesn’t ask if you are a Democrat or a Republican. It just infects. The only way out of this pandemic is to follow the doctors’ orders: Get the vaccine and wear masks. And while you’re at it, please have some compassion.

Tobey Miller, Fort Payne, Alabama

Send letters to the Times-Journal by writing P.O. Box 680349, Fort Payne, AL 35968. Fax 256-845-7459. Email emily.kirby@times-journal.com.

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