In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 20, 2007 / 2 Iyar, 5767

What I know about being a loner

By Rod Dreher

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | They say Cho Seung-Hui was a loner. One of his professors told a reporter that the kid came three times for personal tutoring, wearing a baseball cap pulled down low and sunglasses. "He seemed to be crying behind his sunglasses," she said.

In the early 1980s, I was a high school student. Nerd. Bullied nerd. Alienated nerd. Depressed nerd. A lone teacher befriended me and helped me get into another school, where everything was great. Not even my parents understood what was going on with me, but Miss Marsh did.

In the spring of 1986, I was in my second semester as a college freshman, living alone and seriously down. I was still pining away over unrequited high school love and felt crushingly isolated. That winter, I'd find my way to an off-campus bar and drink until I forgot about my pain. Then I'd stumble home and listen to the Velvet Underground until I fell asleep.

Killing myself was never a serious option — at least I don't think it was. Certainly I never cultivated anger at others for my sorrow. But there I was, smothered by teenage angst, filled with self-hate, surviving on cheap beer and sad music.

Then I got a roommate. God bless you, Joe Zahavi, wherever you are. Your love of life and your friendship restored me — along with discovering the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, who helped me find my way to faith. A crazy Jew from New Orleans and a melancholy Christian from Copenhagen — an unlikely pair that pulled a morose and self-pitying college kid out of the mire.

So I was saved twice by friendship during my teenage years, and by having the grace to respond to lifelines when they were thrown.

Still, it's a little frightening to think about how things might have turned out for me had I continued drifting down that dark river, until I'd lost sight of the last human settlement. Was Cho ever thrown a lifeline? Was he too lost in a fog of self-pity and loneliness that he couldn't see it when it was thrown?

I'm not trying to sentimentalize a mass murderer. The French have a saying, "To understand everything is to forgive everything." That's a warning against letting empathy suspend moral judgment. The liberal errs by exonerating the criminal because he had a hard life. The conservative errs by looking at the criminal and only seeing his vile acts.

Cho Seung-Hui chose to be a killer. But he was not born to kill. The most monstrous thing about that wretched boy is that he was no monster at all.

Another story. In 1992, I was working as a journalist in Washington when I discovered that a mystery caller from northern Virginia twice left threats to kill the president on my office phone line. The Secret Service arrested "Jeff" and told me he fit the classical profile of the political assassin: white, male, in his 30s, a loner. Possibly abused by his father.

When I took the witness stand in his trial, I saw Jeff for the first time. He was small, pale, abashed, pitiful. And guilty as charged.

Before he was sent away, Jeff left me a final voice mail. He said, in a sad, faraway voice: "When I saw you on the witness stand, wearing those glasses, I thought, 'That's who I might have become, if people hadn't done things to me.' "

He was a felon, yes, and got what he deserved. He was also a pathetic human being, lonely and confused and mistreated and filled with hate, or self-hate: a sinner, like me. Who knows where Jeff would be if things had turned out differently for him. Who knows what would have become of Cho Seung-Hui, and in turn the souls he took with him to the grave. Or to you, or to me.

Be kind, friends. Show mercy. We are all strangers in a strange land, and some of us battle unseen dragons.

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Rod Dreher is assistant editorial page editor of the Dallas Morning News and author of the forthcoming "Crunchy Cons" (Crown Forum).


10/28/05 : How the conservatives crumble

© 2007, The Dallas Morning News, Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.