Like a figurative punch in the gut, an act of kindness can take your breath away too

It is Sunday. And, although I am not a religious person, I want to write on a “Sunday” subject, hate and kindness.

This week, two people, after reading my posts on the courtroom attire of women, wrote me to express the hope that I would die soon of my cancer. Like a punch to the gut, that palpable hatred took my breath away.

At about the same time as the foregoing, a Mass was offered for me in the hopes that I would overcome my cancer. The Mass was initiated by another reader. Those prayers took my breath away too. In fact, the kindness expressed by the reader brought tears to my eyes as I read the small card from his church unobtrusively announcing the offering.

That gentle reader knows who he is, but I want to tell him of the warm comfort his totally unexpected act of kindness brought to me. Thank you F.


22 responses

  1. Richard, having worked in the media for nearly all of my adult life, all I can say is that the people wishing you ill will loathe themselves far more than you can ever imagine. Your column simply gave them an opportunity to engage in some wailing and gnashing. I’ve concluded that the majority of emails and comments on the Internet are earthly echoes or the haunted shrieks bellowed by damned souls being swept away on the River Styx (present company excepted). Stay strong, stay positive, and kick the crap out of cancer (it deserves it).

  2. PS: whichever reader organized a mass for you deserves high-fives for infinity. Well done and kudos.

  3. David,

    Good of you to write. I wish we were not separated by so much distance (and birth order). Give your dear wife (and kids) a kiss.

    Love, Rich (the really old cousin).

  4. Dear Judge,

    I have been a participant of organized “religion” for a very long time (actually since I was an infant). What I have learned over the years (a tad over 50 of them) is this:

    1. there is a huge difference between the attendees who walk the walk and those that talk the talk. Attending Church services does NOT make you a Christian.

    2. some Church’s focus on judging and some focus on loving. Jesus’ statement in the New Testament concerning the most important commandment was to LOVE God above all and LOVE your neighbor as yourself. Although we can NEVER live up to His example, we try to (and ask for forgiveness a LOT!)

    3. as your cousin David stated, some individuals are so miserable they can’t love anything or anyone (including themselves). It truly is sad. I always tell my children how sad it would be to “live in their skin.”

    4. everyone is entitled to an opinion (your post), you don’t have to like it or agree with it. I was taught as a child, “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I still choose to live like that (which I’m not sure is being taught today).

    I am so touched by the act of kindness displayed by your reader. I have prayed for you but been careful not to overstep boundaries (knowing your feelings on religion). Kudos to your reader for his thoughfulness! We can ALL learn a lot from him!!!

    GET WELL and BEAT THAT HORRID DISEASE!!! I lost my father and sister (at 36) to cancer. It doesn’t deserve one more soul!!!! God bless you Judge!

  5. You and others like you will always be in my prayers. Though not a literal reader of Genesis, I look to God for hope and healing, seeking guidance in situations where my learning has only limited use, my ears don’t want to hear and my eyes don’t want to see. And, you have undoubtedly left the world better than you found it, so my God would definitely look kindly at you. Don’t die.

  6. Lorin,

    David’s much older brother, George, converted to Judiasm after retiring from a career in the State Department and after serving in the Middle East and elsewhere. I think he is in Israel as we speak.

    Anyway, I don’t read Genesis at all, but with friends like you, and the fellow who thought of me and the comfort of his Mass, I don’t worry about failing to read Genesis too much. But, it is nice to know that the great spiritual texts (like the Bible, the Quran or the Torah) are there should I need them. Thanks for everything.

    All the best.


  7. As a blogger in Miami, readers have wished for my death,threatened me, speculated on my identity and then called my wife and children horrible names (although they got the identity wrong, the thoughts hurt). In sum, I understand your pain. There is something about anonymity that brings out the worst in people. The ability to leave an unattributed comment allow them to say things that even they don’t really believe. I have no answer for this. However I say this, for the two people who wished such awful things upon you, there are thousands who pray for your health and well being. Not a bad average at all your honor.

  8. Rumpole,

    Your comment sparked me to remember something I forgot to write about in this post. I have recieved similar expressions of hatred as a judge regarding opinions that I have written, particularly when I wrote the last Carhart decision or when I declared Nebraska’s flag desecration statute unconstitutional at the request of the Westboro folks.

    What surprised me is that a mere blog, with a piddling readership, could generate such hatred. So, today, I wrote about these exchanges, in part, because I wanted to acknowledge my ignorant naivete.

    And, thank you for your kind words.

    All the best.


  9. Judge Kopf – Just ignore the absurd and pathetic people who are sending you bad wishes. It is so reassuring that there are others who are offering prayers and positive wishes for you. Count me in the group wanting the very best for you! Elaine Mittleman

  10. I have been praying for you several times a day since I read your post on women’s dress (my first acquaintance with your blog, and therefore my first awareness of your illness).

    As I taught the children in Sunday School this morning “G-O-D is L-O-V-E.”

    There are lots of us praying for you – more than you know.

  11. Dr. Phil has said, and I agree, that anger is a secondary emotion. It certainly makes me wonder what would make someone so angry that they would strike out by declaring something so cruel as the death of another. Shame? Embarrassment? Perhaps your comments hit too close to home or maybe they felt the same way but felt they couldn’t admit it. Hm. As a Christian, the best thing I can do for them, or for anyone, is to pray for them. This is my true and deep belief, that the best thing I can ever do for another is to ask God to bless them. So I will pray for those people. Also, I will continue to pray for you, Judge, and though you may not believe as I do, I hope you will take it as the very best I can offer you. I pray for your return to health and for happiness, for peace and comfort as you go through this journey. As you say, all the best.

  12. I have learned that those who treat others poorly or unfairly do not deserve another second of our time or thoughts. Try to think only and care about those who treat you well.

  13. Mary,

    Good advice from someone who gave me a lot of good advice for a long time as one of my best law clerks.
    Thank you, dear friend.

    All the best.


  14. The reader who offered the Mass did what my priest talks about a lot — helped create the kingdom of heaven in our midst. There’s a lot about the finer points of faith I have not figured out, but that one makes sense to me. As relentlessly honest as you are, this blog can be a pretty hard row you’ve chosen to hoe, but your insight and thoughtfulness (not to mention occasional bouts of adorableness) are so very much appreciated.

  15. Anna: I remember reading a book about… I think the history and beliefs of my church, and at one point all the “God this” and “God that” business — the anthropomorphizing of the divine, if that’s the word I’m looking for — started getting to me. I just mentally switched all the “God”s to “Love,” and it suddenly made a lot more sense.

  16. I am not a religious person but I do believe in karma. The people wishing you to succumb to cancer certainly have some coming back to them. Perhaps I can get lucky enough to deliver it.

  17. I like this post. Faith is a funny thing. The older I get, the more I seem to need it. Some would call that weakness. I call it taking advantage of a good thing.

    I wish for you a million more masses!

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