#216: The Apology Letter
Happy Halloween, Loyal Readers, and thank you very much for opening this week’s issue of The Highlighter. At the funeral of Rep. Elijah Cummings last week, President Barack Obama said, “There is nothing weak about being honorable.” This week’s lead article — which tells the story of a murderer who wants to apologize to his victim’s family, but who cannot easily do so — explores how our justice system does not foster the development of honor or the possibility of reconciliation.
If that piece doesn’t interest you, I encourage you to check out two poignant memoirs that explore issues of race — the first connecting a traffic stop with a trip to the Legacy Museum, and the second juxtaposing Hurricane Katrina with the murder of Emmett Till.
Not in the mood for all that? Well, then, maybe the last article, about how we’re living in an era where time makes no sense, is more up your alley. Please enjoy!
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In the years after killing a man, John J. Lennon felt remorse and wanted to express his sorrow to his victim’s family. But his lawyer and priest told him no. It’s never a good idea to say you’re sorry. In this first-person essay, Mr. Lennon describes his process of exploring his guilt and making amends for the crime he committed. It’s not a simple, easy road. Only when he discovers writing — first through a creative writing program, and then through New York’s Apology Letter Bank — does Mr. Lennon truly consider his audience, deepen his introspection, and take responsibility for his actions. (19 min)
The Great American Press Release
Maurice Carlos Ruffin sits in his car in a suit and tie, 10 feet away from his house in New Orleans, waiting for the police officer to approach. He thinks about his recent visit to the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery. “The whole nation wanted me to forget,” he writes. “But I didn’t want to forget. I wanted to understand.” As the officer nears his car, Mr. Ruffin’s thoughts turn to his childhood, when his dad saved his life, twice, the same weekend, in the woods of Mississippi. (15 min)
Please enjoy reliving the moment when loyal reader Michele won The Highlighter Pillow. (HHH #12 is just one month away.)
When Hurricane Katrina hit, Mary Heglar was back in Port Gibson, Mississippi, from college at Oberlin. Her proud grandfather assured her the storm was nothing until its winds blew him back. Ms. Heglar, a climate justice essayist, recounts how Katrina came ashore the day after the 50th anniversary of Emmett Till’s murder. She writes, “I never thought that I’d see the Mississippi my grandfather had known when he was my age. The Mississippi that brutally murdered a 14-year old boy for a wolf whistle that we now know never happened. But Katrina revealed things that I could never unsee.” (11 min)
The 2010s Have Broken Our Sense Of Time And Messed With Our Heads
Are you feeling all out of sorts? Is your general state disoriented and discombobulated? If so, you’re not alone. Katherine Miller argues that our current decade (ending soon! — really, is that possible?) has stretched and scrunched time, leaving us feeling upside-down and jittery. The only solution, unfortunately, is to disconnect from the Internet, live off the grid, unfollow current events, and lead the life of a hermit. (9 min)
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