Law enforcement vehicles formed a large perimeter around Milwaukee's MolsonCoors campus Wednesday after a mass shooting left six people, including the shooter, dead. (Photo by Jonathon Sadowski)
Law enforcement vehicles formed a large perimeter around Milwaukee's MolsonCoors campus Wednesday after a mass shooting left six people, including the shooter, dead. (Photo by Jonathon Sadowski)

When bad news threatens to drown us, we must be each other’s life preservers

Letter from the Editor

As much as anybody, what I would give to still be talking about paczkis and having a little fun with the annual sacrifices that many are making for the season of Lent. How I wish I could give up bad news for Lent. How I wish we could all give up shooting at each other for Lent, and forever. Instead, the unfolding tragedy in Milwaukee brought death to innocents and brought darkness to a city.

My Ash Wednesday plans included an evening service at a church where I would be delivering the sermon. Our pastor is on sabbatical and several church members are taking turns filling various roles. This would have been new ground for me. Despite decades of broadcast experience and complete comfort in front of crowds, I was apprehensive when my pastor asked this of me and those nerves were still there as I reviewed my remarks Wednesday afternoon. Then came the first bulletins from Miller Valley, and my pastoral premiere would be put on hold.

But I share some of it here because the message revolved around rising above tragedy. I had planned to begin with describing my earliest days working in newsrooms. Back then, there was no internet. No smartphones. Satellite TV broadcasts were not nearly as routine as they are today. So our main connection to the outside world was a teletype. The constant clacking and occasional dinging was my exciting pipeline of information, spitting out reams of paper that I had the privilege of wading through and shaping into a newscast.

And then the novelty started to wear off under a never ending string of stories about people doing awful things to other people. Car crashes. Murders. Freak accidents. Preventable calamities. It got to the point where I would lose my faith in humanity. And then my faith, period.

Thankfully, I’ve got a partner who has spent 36 years lifting my spirits. Pastors who’ve rekindled my faith. Friends who’ve breathed life back into a depleted soul. They’ve all reminded me to open my blinders, expand my view of the world, and see the good all around me, even if it’s not big enough to make the daily news.

Similarly, it can be tempting sometimes to think of Lent as a countdown to those last days of Jesus on earth, when he became part of the never ending string of stories about people doing awful things to other people.

Instead, let’s remember the good that was all around him, usually because of him.

After all, there were no teletypes back then. No internet. It would be years before much of the world heard about the good works of Jesus and the good words of his disciples. But the important thing is that these good things were going on; and good deeds are still happening every day. Let’s remember that while navigating a world that sometimes tests our faith.

I had more to say in that sermon I didn’t deliver. There was more about ashes and the need for real self-reflection. More about enduring dark days and the promise given to us with every sunrise. And a reminder that the next sunrise is not guaranteed for any one of us, so make the most of today.

We each now carry an entire newsroom in the palm of our hands. So before that never-ending ticker of tragedy takes us to another dark place, open up the blinders. See more of the good. Be more of the good. Rekindle someone else’s faith in you.