With the coronavirus spreading pain and suffering worldwide, it’s interesting that your latest Readers Write is on the topic of “Accidents” [April 2020]. The entries were helpful to me in many ways.
As the Old Testament reminds us, “Good and evil fall on the just and the unjust.” Or, more coarsely: “Life is a crapshoot.” We all have to deal with events as best we can and not blame our misfortunes on God or others.
As a retired pastor of what used to be called a “mainline” church for more than forty years, I find I now have more questions about life and death than answers. To those who feel the same: know that you have a lot more company than you might guess.
Louise A. Blum’s “How It Ends” [March 2020] powerfully describes the slow march from vigor to death caused by cancer. When I was nine, I lost my seven-year-old brother to cancer. My wife’s son died of brain cancer two years ago. Even so, I read the essay without tears.
That is, until I read it aloud to my wife. Then the pain of those losses, and many others, choked me. I’m glad Blum was there for her friend, and that she shared with Sun readers her friend’s journey to the end.
When I read “How It Ends,” I was waiting for a follow-up appointment after an irregular mammogram: a week of trepidation and fear.
Louise A. Blum’s essay gives an up-close view of the cruelty of breast cancer, how it eviscerates your life: trying to work while you are sick, enduring years of toxic treatments, bowing to the inevitable.
My follow-up appointment was fine. I am one of the lucky ones for now.
I rushed to my calculator the instant I finished Daniel Uncapher’s essay in your March 2020 issue. How, I wondered, could such random sums of pocket change and folding money add up to the title “100 Dollars”?
Sure enough they did — and I did the addition twice. No fuzzy math on the part of Uncapher, who stated modestly, “My mind doesn’t work very well when it comes to money.” Perhaps he would consider helping me with this year’s taxes?
There is wonder, vision, and joy in David James Duncan’s poetic witness of the pair of salmon who made it back to their home stream [“One’s Place upon the Earth,” Dog-Eared Page, March 2020]. I cried, picturing being there with Duncan, watching them as he vividly felt the presence of wild nature.
It’s been a less-than-auspicious 2020 for a lot of reasons, but the genuine enthusiasm in Mark Gozonsky’s essay “The Orange Appreciation Award” [March 2020] made me grateful just to sit in his company for a while. It was good to read the writing of someone who celebrates serendipity and finds joy in the everyday. I felt less alienated for a while.
In 2016 I retired from the Bay Area to Paradise, California. One of the first things I did there was start a writing group. Four women joined, and we wrote regularly together in my living room, right up to the wildfire on November 8, 2018, which took all of our homes but one.
Sun reader Jeff Vaughn writes in your March 2020 Correspondence of being moved to tears by a young woman, E.D., who wrote a piece in the Readers Write on “Being Broke” [May 2018]. E.D. was my neighbor and one of the friends in my writing group. I introduced her to The Sun and encouraged her to write in response to Readers Write prompts. We all celebrated when E.D.’s piece was published.
The Paradise fire scattered us, but we stay in touch. Last year E.D. and another Paradise friend visited me here in Baja, Mexico. We have landed on our feet.
I’m grateful to Vaughn for his tears. We are all connected.
I was outraged by Brian O’Keefe’s firsthand account of the violence at a Standing Rock protest [Readers Write on “Bravery,” February 2020], where the police defended corporate interests instead of our First Amendment rights, Native American rights, and the environment we all share.
The Sun has educated me about what really matters: humanity, the environment, racial justice, and the corporate takeover of the world. The thinkers and activists in your pages have recharged my commitment to act for justice.
I urge all who have been so moved to at least vote — if not work — for candidates who speak to your politics. Voter turnout is the only way to get democracy back on track, and there’s so much to lose.
I recently added a quote — attributed to journalist Studs Terkel in your December 2016 Sunbeams — to my e-mail signature: “Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say: This is my community, and it is my responsibility to make it better.”
This morning a colleague e-mailed me to say the quote should be attributed to Oregon governor (1967–1975) Tom McCall, who was interviewed by Terkel. I’ve always been under the impression that The Sun is careful in its research, so now I’m wondering who the quote really came from.
The Sun responds:
Your colleague is correct. Though we’re a few years late, The Sun regrets the error.
As a Christian who is often grieved by the public expressions of other Christians, I find that The Sun provides a wider spiritual perspective that gives me hope. After the capitulation of so many religious people to Donald Trump’s principles — a move at complete odds with the teachings of Jesus — I wanted to give money to those who believe in lifting up the soul and providing an alternative to this madness. It wasn’t enough to support a political candidate or progressive organization. So I donated to The Sun.