Watch for sparks


To the editor:

There was a very moving vigil conducted on a recent Tuesday evening at Riverdale’s Bell Tower Monument as people stood together to protest the hatred manifested in the terrible Pittsburgh shooting.

As I mingled with the huge crowd, a story — once meant to be a joke — wouldn’t leave my mind.

It seems that there was a man who had stuttered terribly all his life, and finally determined that he would conquer his impairment. He spent a lot of money undergoing speech therapy, and then once again came out into the world.

A friend approached him in the street. “How’d it go?” the friend asked. The man took a deep breath, smiled, and then said — without a quiver in his voice — “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”

“Marvelous!” the friend exclaimed. “Even I couldn’t say that!”

“Y-y-yes,” the man replied. “B-but h-how c-can I f-fit th-that into o-ordinary c-c-conversation?”

All these vigils are important in helping people come to terms with their grief. The problem is to fit the trauma and despair back into ordinary life, to try to treat others with love and kindness and respect.

There once was a play by Jules Feiffer called “Little Murders.” Little murders occur constantly in real life, with people being abrasive and impatient instead of considerate, often leaving hurt feelings in their wake.

It is certainly healing to come together to mourn victims of a fire, but we must try to pay attention to the tiny sparks that occur unnoticed long before they catch and become the flames that catch everyone’s eyes.

Gerald Lebowitz

Gerald Lebowitz,