The Heart of the Matter

   Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle   ― Plato

  All cruel people describe themselves as paragons of frankness -Tennessee Williams

To belittle, you have to be little― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

But some things are not forgivable. Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable!

– Blanche Dubois

Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people          A  nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.  -Franklin D. Roosevelt



A woman was recently sucker punched on a Pittsburgh street by a man she apparently did not know. Aside from the sickening randomness of the attack what is particularly galling is the reaction of the witnesses. There was no rush to assist the victim. Instead, cell phones were used to photograph her as she lay sprawled out on the sidewalk.  One of these less than solid citizens even lay down on the ground to take a selfie with her.

It is ox y-moronic to refer to most day time “talk” shows as such. What passes for dialogue is for the most part screaming. Producers shove the parties into a limbo dance under the lowest bars of human dignity complete with insults, often unheard above the constant beeping of the censor, as well as physical attacks and Olympic level chair tossing for the entertainment of the masses. The modern day Coliseum is a studio and a TV camera delivers the festivities to millions watching from the comfort of their lounge chairs.  There is never any mercy. The emperor’s thumbs are always turned down.

Cyber bullying has led to any number of suicides by students at the most vulnerable of ages.  Twitter has become the weapon of choice for anybody with any type of a grudge to feed with the chief offender being the President of the United States.

Empathy is now just a seven letter word and compassion takes too long to spell. It is the reason that too often I prefer the company of dogs.  Human decency seems a relic yet there are moments when even an old cynic like me must confess that a strain or two might possibly survive. The response from everyday folks to assist the victims of the trio of hurricanes that recently ravaged many of our countrymen was heartening. Then I remember Charlottesville and the moment passes.

Meanwhile, Rosa Maria Hernandez, a ten year old girl afflicted with Cerebral Palsy was recently placed under federal detention. Rosa Maria you see is not a documented alien. Her parents crossed the border into Laredo, Texas when she was three months old to get better treatment for her CP. The treatment in Mexico was beyond their means. Federal agents intercepted her on the way to the hospital for emergency gall bladder surgery. They then trailed her to the hospital where they waited outside her room until her release. They then took her to a detention facility for migrant children. Her parents, both lacking documentation were not with her on her trip to the hospital. She was accompanied by a cousin, a US citizen, out of fear her parents would be snatched up by ICE agents patrolling the area with a vengeance since the election of the tweeter in Chief.

Rosa Maria is not a criminal, a drug dealer or a member of a gang like MS 13. She is not one of the “bad hombres” we had all been assured would be the subject of this new wave of legalized abductions. She is not an adult. She is a sick little girl, separated from her family and terrified.  Because of her illness she functions on the mental level of a five year old.

It is but a short hop from incivility to cruelty. It is even a shorter jump from cruelty to tragedy.

Abel Cedeno, a student at the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in the Bronx had been bullied regularly over his sexuality and had begun to carry a serrated knife for protection. He complained to his teachers on a number of occasions and his mother had also periodically brought her concerns for her son’s safety to the administration. Nothing of substance was ever done to insure his protection. It was reported that on his final day on earth Matthew McCree, 15, punched Abel Cedeno twice in the face.  Matthew McCree died of the wounds inflicted by Abel Cedeno. Abel Cedeno has been indicted for manslaughter and there remains the possibility of murder charges and a dim future in NY State’s penal institutions.  Ariane Laboy, survived with stab wounds and a visit to the hospital, sparing his family a continuum of grief.

Two Bronx mothers mourn and Rosa Maria Hernandez continues to face deportation as the purported leader of the free world tweets his opinions of his “lazy”, “low IQ” “poorly rated” critics from the confines of the executive suites at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave  and his “fans” cheer in rapt anticipation of the rhetorical chair tosses of the Sunday morning news gabfests.  People wearing swastikas are called “good people”.  And the band tweeted on.

2 thoughts on “The Heart of the Matter

  1. This is why I work with Pax Christi Metro New York, my spiritual family the Missionary Cenacle Family and Catholic Worker, they consistently work with compassion for peace and justice in our daily lives, here and around the world. Each of us has to take personal responsibility to be good, do good, be a power for good as we were created to be. Thanks for your clarity of thought and the mercy and kindness you show every day!


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