People in the news not that far removed

I grew up in Presque Isle. Since I moved to New York several years ago, I’ve met neighbors as friendly and openhearted as anyone in the Midwest, and they have the same community values. In fact, the only difference between my neighbors here and those I grew up with is that those here are often directly affected by the horrifying news stories of the day.

It’s hard to relate to events unfolding far away, and that’s why I’m writing-because my link to northern Michigan proves that the people we read about are not as far removed as we might think.

I graduated from AHS in 1999. Now I have American colleagues with American relatives in Puerto Rico whose homes were and still are devastated.

I worked at Neiman’s, and now part of my grocery tax goes to City shelters that house little kids who can’t understand where their parents are. I spent time with friends around bonfires, and now my friends include people from countries directly affected by US foreign policy. These are lives, not abstractions. And except for coincidence and luck, these are lives which anyone reading this could have been born into.

Yes, it’s a hard connection to make. It takes imagination and empathy and work. But it’s a human duty, and anyone engaged enough to be reading a newspaper can’t use the challenge as an excuse to brush it off.

These are your neighbors too.

DANA E. HEITZ

New York