It’s not often that I receive notes or messages thanking me for sharing stories of my life through editorials.
That has not been the case in the last month or so.
Nearly a dozen readers have sent praise for my take on the civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo., the use of corporal punishment and its impact on effective parenting and a more recent ode to becoming a better person after the death of a child.
Correspondence has ranged from emails to personal letters to handwritten and personally delivered notes.
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Each was positive in nature. Some expressed empathy, while others highlighted the forthright nature in which I tackled each subject.
Most felt connected to the words and related to the recounted experiences.
Twice in recent weeks, I have met face to face with two of the readers.
One was a gentleman — a veteran of the armed forces — born and raised in Pleasant Hill. We talked of similar situations involving corporal punishment and our respective oldest sons. We shared how we learned that more-than-occasional spanking caused a rift in the father-son relationship.
We also came to agreement that we are better off as parents without corporal punishment and that subsequent relationships with our other children grew fonder because of that stance.
It was an interesting, engaging conversation, one that I left filled with more knowledge of the world around me than before we sat down. It reinforced the notion that open and honest dialogue reveals that despite perceived differences, not much separates one person’s life experiences from another’s.
The second meeting was with a retired government official of a small town in Kansas. The gentleman, whom a close friend referred to as “The Mayor,” took interest in a sit-down after reading my editorial on Ferguson.
“The Mayor” and I talked about various subjects during our meeting. He revealed the work he has done in the last few years on behalf of a friend, a convicted robber who was sentenced to the state penitentiary for his crime.
The friend, “The Mayor” told me, suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome. After the death of the man’s son, the man hit rock bottom, hence his crime. The friend is now appealing the conviction.
What “The Mayor” claimed to be shoddy work by the man’s public defender left “The Mayor” disenchanted with the justice system.
It was an eye-opening conversation. A man who was once a city government official expressed disbelief that a veteran with a diagnosed condition was sentenced to prison instead of being offered the help he needed to deal with PTSD.
I also received a letter from a reader, a financial adviser from Lee’s Summit. He wrote how my column about my son’s death evoked memories of a brother who passed away more than 25 years ago. He thanked me for “sharing some of your soul and heart” and stated those shared emotions “are comforting.”
Often reporters and editors are besieged with messages and calls reprimanding them for typos, grammatical errors and such. Today, I choose to acknowledge those who have reached out and encouraged me to keep baring my soul.
Toriano Porter is a reporter for the Lee’s Summit Journal, a sister publication of The Kansas City Star.