As a young news reporter I learned to dodge labels and categorization for the simple reason that it got in the way of my job. To be taken seriously, I wanted the information below my byline to be considered by readers on its own merits. And, I wanted sources who were – while not always happy with the information disclosed – at least confident that I was scrupulous in presenting complete, accurate facts and not taking sides.
In my mind, hubris is the opposite of gratitude. And it is hubris that leads us to believe all our strengths – a slender physique, financial success, or public recognition – are due exclusively to our own hard work and merit. And, others’ weaknesses or setbacks are due to their slothfulness, intellectual feebleness, or gluttony.
I’ve learned a thing or two about pain in the last couple of years. First, I find it surprising just how much physical pain some people can endure without much complaint. Second, it is clear to me that I’m a pain wimp.
I’m convinced Houlihan’s, Ruby Tuesday, Cracker Barrel and a host of other chain restaurants are conspiring to improve my health. And I don’t like it.
If I had a near death experience, you’d think I’d know it. But, apparently I had one in December and was among the last to recognize it.
Is there life after death? The death of spirit? The death of one’s social identity? The living death of a priest wounded by his humanity, and shunned by the scandalized parishioners he once counted as family? This is not a plot ripped from today’s headlines. Rather, it’s the framework for the rich and personal story of Father Hugh Kennedy in Edwin O’Connor’s 1962 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Edge of Sadness.