In the often cruel world of internet commentary, the response to Elizabeth Edwards’ illness is both inspiring and heartening
Yesterday, when the news came out that Elizabeth Edwards’ cancer had spread to her liver — that indeed she was home, surrounded by family, and “dying” — I checked out the report on one of the big news sites. Then, with some trepidation, I monitored the comment section. People can be cruel, and certainly in Mrs. Edwards’ case, they have been — she was seen as having protected her husband’s philandering so he could run for president. Why was I even going there? I was bound to be depressed.
Much to my surprise, page after page of comment was filled with nothing but good thoughts, prayers, blessings to her family. Fascinatingly, not even one of these comments mentioned Elizabeth’s estranged husband, John Edwards. He was simply non-existent; did not even deserve to be a part of the tributes. I got to page 14, and then I stopped. I felt I was pushing my luck.
I’m sure if I had looked at another site — or gone on with the one I was perusing — I might have found a vastly different point of view on Mrs. Edwards, despite her illness. I would have had some chilly gratification in just how horrible people can be.
I am so often disheartened by hard hearts which are much more on display now, thanks to the internet. And sometimes I wonder if compassion is going to become obsolete. It’s a tightrope walk now. There’s nothing easier to express than negativity. Nothing more instantly gratifying — in the most shallow chamber of your heart — than to toss off that bitchy remark. I know. Mr. wOw walks that tightrope himself, and I have, at times, fallen without a net, I’m sure.
So I closed my computer. I wouldn’t read anything more that night. Online anyway. (I am finishing up Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here.) I felt peaceful. Although it’s only the first week of December, it seemed like Christmas, at its best, to me.
I add my thoughts for Mrs. Edwards, and for all those who are not nearly as lucky and as healthy as Mr. wOw during this season that can be so tormenting in its manic insistence we find joy. (I’m already fighting my dark moping and fatalism; before Christmas Eve arrives I will have teetered on the brink of epic Humbugism a dozen times. B. will put up with more than usual.)
But all those kind commenters saved me, for a day or two at least.