One week ago, we were dealing with the senseless and tragic loss of life at the Tree of Life Synagogue. I guess we still are but in a different way. Anyone who spends more than 10 seconds on social media can become dishearted by the cruelty, sanctimony and relentless personal attacks. Many days it seems our society is broken. Yet in a dark hour, the heart and spirit of Pittsburgh has shined brightly.
Thank you, Pittsburgh for not letting hate win.
Sunday is a day of thanks, and I would like to give thanks to my friends and fellow Pittsburghers for coming together to give blood and donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to the victims and the first responders; to our extraordinary first responders who ran to the scene not knowing if they would return; to my media colleagues for amazing work under heartbreaking conditions; and to my former neighbors in Squirrel Hill for reminding the world what peace and community looks like.
The foolishness of politics and self-aggrandizement were mostly inserted by media and pundits outside our city. As all were trying to outdo the other, they figuratively shouted, “Look at me! I’m smart!”
Pittsburghers didn’t care about the politics of a wounded officer with a Blue Lives Matter flag. We know that Blue Lives Matter just as Black Lives Matter. The two should never be mutually exclusive. His bravery to defend innocent people even as bullets flew toward him was far more important. Pittsburghers didn’t fall for the cheap soapboxes erected by out-of-towners trying to score political points on our pain.
We kept moving forward and asked, “How can we help?”
More than 250 people showed up to PPG Paints Arena Monday to give blood.
I’ve never been prouder of my town than when I witnessed Muslims raise over $70,000 to help victims and responders. In other parts of the world, there is strife and violence between the two religions. Not here.
I witnessed our mayor and preachers of all faiths and denominations speak of building bridges to come together. And a tear came to my eye. This. This is how it is supposed to be. If only others could learn.
My chest swelled with pride when I realized the nation was watching us not with pity or sadness but with admiration and respect. In tragedy born of hate, we showed triumph born of goodness.
Here in Pittsburgh, it still matters where you went to high school because everyone knows someone you who knows you. Nationality or religion doesn’t matter here, except as the basis for how we tease each other. This is our city. We made the steel which built America and mined the coal to power the growth. And everyone had a hand in it.
What happened at the synagogue was the work of evil. There can be no other name for it. Yet this little town built on a few rivers by colonial soldiers, which later welcomed immigrants of all stripes like my grandfather who arrived to become Americans, propelled world-changing industrialists and later the white collars of medical technology, finance, and the tech sector, showed the strength and resolve of those steel beams for which we will always be famous.
Well done, Pittsburgh. Thank you for rising above ugliness and division. Thank you for being a light in the darkness.