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Anderson: Criticism is like a punch in the gut when it comes from loved ones

Anderson: Criticism is like a punch in the gut when it comes from loved ones

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Anderson: It’s just tough love

Susan Anderson

Criticism. Hard enough to take, but when it comes from those you love, it’s like a punch in the gut.

It was in response to the vaccination column. Was I too harsh?

When I wrote about the implications of not being vaccinated, there had been more coronavirus deaths. Online articles, newspaper articles and the evening news told of the consequences of having a hospital full of coronavirus patients, leaving little room for patients who need other treatment. There were many reports about the shortage of nurses and how even in our local hospital the nurses must put in overtime.

So often the evening news includes someone speaking from their hospital bed, who having gone through the agony of experiencing C-19, is now admitting they were wrong. They acknowledge they should have been vaccinated.

I also read posts from a niece who is a nurse in Pennsylvania. The anger in her words is obvious. The job of caring for, and often losing, Covid-19 patients is wearing her out. Not only that, but she recently lost a co-worker to the disease – a nurse who had sacrificed her own health to care for coronavirus patients in her hospital.

So, I put those thoughts and opinions together and created that article. It was mostly a compilation of opinion from others, stitched together using Ecclesiastes as a model, with a few of my feelings added. I was not singling out anyone, especially not those who are walking through the darkness of this disease.

I also didn’t mean to imply that people would consider the danger they might expose others to but stay unvaccinated anyway. That would be heartless. I doubt that people who remain unvaccinated make conscious decisions to harm others.

My column was hard. It had to be. People are dying. Still, it crossed my mind that perhaps I had been too severe.

Then it was someone I knew. His funeral was the week before the column was published. What cemented it for me was watching this fellow’s daughter convulse in sobs over losing her daddy. Watching the sorrow of his son, and the tears of his niece were heartbreaking.

It should not have been. He should not have died from COVID-19, but he had not been vaccinated.

So, what am I supposed to do? Should I hold back harsh words in fear of upsetting someone who’s of a different opinion? Everyone has a choice to be vaccinated. The choice remains, but if my words can convince just one to reconsider, to take the vaccine, to stay safe, then the hurt from the criticism will have been worth it.

Can I be compassionate while also providing a strong statement?

I hope it shows between the lines of those tough words. If I didn’t care, I’d stay silent.

I pray that God will use my voice to make a difference, to honor Him.

Please, though, just a few less punches if you don’t mind.

Susan Anderson lives in Opelika with her husband. Contact her at


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Michael Paul Williams — a columnist with the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Richmond, Va. — won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Commentary "for penetrating and historically insightful columns that guided Richmond, a former capital of the Confederacy, through the painful and complicated process of dismantling the city's monuments to white supremacy."

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