The June 28 front-page article “Lack of collective mourning compounds COVID grief” took the first step forward to try to define and give a visual of the extent of loss of life from COVID-19. A visual of the massive loss of life has been absent from much of the news that has been out about the impact of the virus. It is time to change that.
I question how many people would turn their collective noses up at face masks and distancing if they were greeted every day with photos of these lost heroes, or an endless list of names or a room full of 125,000 plus caskets. How many pages will it take to list 125,000 people who have died and now more today as I write this letter two days after the article appeared? More deaths than World War I, they say, more than twice Vietnam. If I remember correctly, Americans were content to listen to the body count of Vietnam each night until they started seeing countless photos of the caskets coming home on the nightly news and in newspapers.
Would we be better about trying to follow the public health rules to protect our fellow man from the virus if we truly could see the extent of the loss of life that grows each day? I would like to find out. I hope that the Star Tribune will find ways to help Americans or at least Minnesotans grasp the loss of life from this virus.
Celia Shapland, Vadnais Heights
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I was deeply touched by the article on collective grief. It started me thinking about the Italians banging pans from their balconies, as well as New Yorkers at 7 p.m. making noise to recognize their city’s front-line health care workers.
I haven’t always done well with acknowledging others’ grief, but when Paul Wellstone died and I couldn’t think what to do, I put a sign on my fence asking my neighbors to leave their porch lights on that week. I was astonished how many responded. It made a difference — for me, for everyone.
Size is not everything. It doesn’t matter if we’re alone or in a gathering together of 10. Each of us can do something. Let’s trust that, much like prayer, this “something” will vibrate/resonate around the world. Tonight, as always, I’ll be leaving the light on in my kitchen window. I encourage each of you to do whatever feels right. Light a candle. Say an evening mantra, “May they find their way.” Have faith in this — it matters.
Judith Monson, St. Paul
There are distractions, but this ongoing problem remains
“Minneapolis gun violence adds to crises” (front page, June 28) notes that at the time of publication gun violence had “killed eight and injured at least 118 people since Memorial Day.” The theory is that the violence is the result of warring street gangs. While that’s still a theory, the events since Memorial Day are a stark reminder that we have a failed background check system that allows anyone who wants a gun to have one.
Easy access to guns is a reminder of why police may be in mortal danger when trying to do their jobs. The number of guns on the street is also a reminder that we will be facing this kind of violence well beyond the passage of COVID-19. While COVID-19 is currently a distraction, remember that we have work to do in controlling gun violence.
Fred Beier, Edina
An amorphous phrase that has other possible applications
While few would agree with destructive applications of justifiable anger, and while many recognize the counterproductive effects of such actions, Jarrett Stepman (“Continued mob rule will produce anarchy,” Opinion Exchange, June 28) appears to equate the overwhelming presence of peaceful protesters interspersed with scattered anarchists to mob rule with swarming “hordes of lawbreakers.”
Perhaps it would be more accurate to speak of mob rule by oligarchs, giant corporations and monopolies, defense contractors, agribusinesses and giant fossil-fuel companies, among others, who in so many different ways have been looting our country and the rest of the world for too many years. Sad to say, violence — including domestic and foreign wars — has been an unwelcome part of our society’s history.
Richard Laybourn, Bloomington
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“Mob rule” has always been lawless and violent. This violence just hasn’t been directed toward anything Stepman cares about until now — in this case, statues. If you are a poor person, a person of color, a woman, an LGBTQ person, or one of countless groups, you have been a victim of America’s violence and lawlessness. But we aren’t statues. And we are fighting back. You can call us a mob, or you can see us as what we are — your fellow American citizens who just want to live in the America you’ve been living in this entire time.
Ray Lancon, St. Louis Park
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Did Stepman just write a whole article about “mob rule” and not mention the death and injustice of George Floyd? I hope not, otherwise he would be extremely insensitive to current history.
Steve Law, St. Paul
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I appreciated Steve Sack’s June 28 cartoon because it expressed how I have been feeling about the demolishing of historical statues, decisions not to show “Gone with the Wind,” the Minnesota Twins’ taking down the statue of former team owner Calvin Griffith because he made a disgusting remarks more than 40 years ago that marked him as a racist, and renaming Lake Calhoun to something no one remembers, much less can pronounce. I had to research the reason that the name “Eskimo Pies” is offensive.
When does it stop? Where does it stop? The history of our country and world is, unquestionably, an ugly one. What Black people and other minorities have suffered at the hands of the police and some in white society is ugly. In the future, when a community chooses to honor someone, will it have to go back and review every word or comment individuals uttered and every action they took? I doubt anyone in this country can look at their past and be proud of every comment they uttered or action. When does this judgment of history stop, and when does movement toward creating a society and a way of life that is better for all begin?
Kay Kautio, South Haven, Minn.