Out with the Old; Out with the New?

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Mary Anne Zak

Entering another room, we sometimes ask, “Why did I come in here?” Usually finding an answer, we go on our way.

Entering another year has not been so simple.

Crises and losses ended 2018. Father Christmas did his best, but there was relatively little peace on earth.

Expressing sympathy with nameless others, many grieved crises and losses.  Others empathized, feeling, within themselves, anguish felt by unknown neighbors: parents of starving, murdered and lost children; victims of fire, flood, earthquakes, tsunamis, avalanches, opioids, disease, violence and loss of national civility. In the process, many learned that empathizing could harm health.

Judith Orloff, an American board-certified psychiatrist, has given careful attention to empathy in her book entitled The Empath’s Survival Guide. It may help citizens struggling with many issues, including allegiance to flag and country.

Do we notice that many Americans now stand to sing “God Bless America” while holding their hands on their hearts?  Has the well-loved song become an unofficial anthem? Has national unease moved thousands of Americans to ask if love of country is deeper than they may have realized? Have Constitution and government become a matter of conscience for many?

Unsettled about many national issues, we face community issues as well.

Community loss, not limited to Suffield, enfolded many people when Daniel F. Sullivan, Jr. died. Hundreds lined up in biting wind to honor the Coach and his five sons, their families and their mom. Danny and Joanne were students at Suffield Junior–Senior High School the first year this writer taught there. They have shared its sense of community through years of coaching and service to the town.

Mark Sullivan, oldest of Danny and Joanne’s five sons, wrote, “The world is a better place because of Dan Sullivan. I know every single one of you has a story of a major or life-changing impact he had on your life … Great game, Coach! You can rest in peace knowing that, as usual, you won.”

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