My family and friends and acquaintances know me as a man of many words – some will say too many – both when speaking and in my writings. Yet, my voice has been stilled for quite a while by the world around us and I have not been able to express myself in print or electrons.
Often, events such as the Pittsburgh horror bring about different reactions from different people – for different reasons, which is why I cannot fault people for not reacting. It is difficult to know what to say, and there is always the fear of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time – so you say nothing. Silence is, indeed, golden at times.
Today, my shattered faith in humanity was partially restored by a friend – a man I have never met, yet am proud to call a friend. I know him only through correspondence about my writing, he has been generous and warm in all our contacts and today, he has claimed a permanent place in my pantheon of friends. He has shown me that there is a way and that I am a better man for knowing him.
This is a man who has no direct connection to the victims or their community, but has shown me how we are all connected. Forgive me for quoting from his letter to me:
I wanted to write you and tell you about the weekend with my friends and our long planned event but I can’t do that right now. A shadow of evil has been cast over a house of worship. A soulless person who’s life will never be memorialized, who’s death will never be mourned, has brought carnage and terror to a simple house of worship. I am ashamed, I am saddened, I am disgusted and I am sick.
The Pittsburgh area is the home of my family for generations, the very reunion I attended this weekend will be hosted in Pittsburgh by a shipmate that lives in the same small town my mother grew up in. I remember the glowing light from blast furnaces and the whistles blowing at the mills up and down the river. These were iron men who made steel, most were veterans of a war still fresh in their memories yet 20 years had passed already. They helped save a world from the very type of heinous, sick, carnage just witnessed. Know that this murderer is not a man of iron, know he has made nothing, know he is not Pittsburgh or America.
We wait now for a justice system designed to protect the innocent and those found guilty, and to begin the trial process. This will fall from the 24 hour news cycle and only those impacted and with an interest in justice will follow this to the end.
Today my own words are few and I have let another express some of what I feel. There is no shame in this – I am proud to do so. Too often we keep to ourselves things that others would benefit from hearing, or might receive comfort from. This sin of omission, though minor, should be avoided. I hope these words will help.