A Call for Some Compassion.

I received the following email today, sent in response to a post appearing here a few days ago.
Jim—I came across your blog regarding the death of Eric Foote. He was 53 and the son of missionaries to Russia. They made an emergency trip home to attend their only son’s funeral. He had a wife as well. While I didn’t know him, my cousin did, his son joined him on numerous mission trips.
imagesI don’t know what on earth caused him to try and “beat the train”. I have been at crossings where the lights are flashing, bells ringing, train sitting still and the cars zipping on through, aware that there is a dysfunction. Even as others zoom past, and even as I see the train IS TRULY sitting still…it’s almost impossible for me to go on by until the barricade is raised. People (mostly men in a hurry) honk horns but, as you said, the train wins every time.  I am not saying this was the case, but at 1 a.m. PERHAPS he was following a car in front of him, somehow not aware the train was indeed moving and fast. Was he tired? Distracted? Perhaps there is a more tragic cause—depression, attempted suicide. We may never know for sure.
Why am I writing to you? Because while I agree that often carelessness is involved, those who die are someone’s son, someone’s husband, friend, loved one.Your article was callous and it is hard to imagine that you once  worked in PR and handled “complaints.” On the other hand maybe that explains a lot. You had to get something off your chest and so did I. Our world is full of heartless remarks and posts. Everyone is anonymous online and it’s sad to see the lack of empathy. You live in a beautiful place, have traveled extensively, are probably a pretty nice guy if I met you on the street. But a dose of compassion is needed in my unsolicited opinion. —Rachel
Aloha Rachel—Thank you for your thoughtful and, I must say, poignant email. I’ve reread my post and will concede that from the perspective of a family member or a family friend, it probably seemed harsh and unfeeling. For that I am genuinely sorry. I guess the difference is that I was writing about a problem that kills 300-400 nameless, faceless people a year, while you were understandably focused on one individual.
We may never have the answers but, yes, of course Eric’s death is tragic and I can only begin to fathom what his family and friends are going through. In the future, I shall try to think of these incidents more on a case by case basis, remembering that there are families involved and that they are all paying a heavy price.—Jim