By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli
The noise across the American landscape is deafening. Every day the perverse rhetoric is further polarizing our nation. This polarization is intensifying the anxiety in many communities and families around the country. It has gotten so out of hand that people are not talking to one another. The anger and disrespect is becoming infectious everywhere.
On the positive side, I have never seen more people interested in government and its social policies. More and more young people are considering public service and government leadership as career paths. People are watching the news and reading the paper much more consistently.
The media is being challenged daily to report the truth based on real facts. It is unfortunate in the age of social media that truth continues to be manipulated and misrepresented. We must support a free press and a free media and urge them to genuinely commit themselves to presenting the truth. In a free society, they are key to holding those in power accountable for their actions and their leadership; they are key in demanding honesty from all who lead us.
As a teacher on the college level for more than three decades, it continuously amazes me how little the present generation of young people know about American government and our social policies. Hopefully, the chaos in Washington will give life to a better, more informed younger generation who are willing to stand for the truth and work courageously to build new bridges of human understanding among us.
Every now and then in the midst of this chaos, I am forced to take pause and think about the fragile life and world in which we live. In early March a 14-year-old boy from Miller Place was riding his bicycle and was killed. It was documented that it was a genuine accident with no recklessness or human impediments involved. A few days after this senseless loss of life, I presided at Nico’s funeral at the Catholic Church of St. Louis de Montfort in Sound Beach. He was a veteran lacrosse player — every coach’s dream athlete. He possessed passion and energy for this sport that was extraordinary. He was small in stature but was a giant in heart and commitment to the game.
This tragic death brought an entire community together. As we celebrated his life that morning, we were forced to think about how all life is fragile, that we need to stand strong because we need each other. Nico played lacrosse since he was eight years old; it was in his blood. It was his favorite sport. However, the brotherhood that was fostered because of lacrosse laid the foundation for other human values that are desperately needed today. He and his buddies were committed and are committed to community service, to volunteering for a wide range of noble causes. Their service was done with dedication, love and passion, the same energy they brought to the lacrosse playing field.
At 14 years of age, Nico touched more people with his wit, charm, love and compassion than most of us will do in a lifetime. The world is definitely brighter and better because Nico walked, lived and loved among us.
Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.