Our protectors, our future, our salvation
Pittsburgh Police Officer Forrest Hodges and four other Pittsburghers helped revive a stricken stranger on his way to a Penguins game last month. When Hodges finally spoke about the incident, he gave credit to the others, a former Army medic, a bellhop, a ticket scalper and the man's companion, who caught him before he fell hard to the concrete.
Allowing that he had encountered similar situations throughout his career, without the victims getting that last chance, Hodges was asked what was different this time, a hard question for which words were not at hand. Hodges could only say, “Emotionally, I don't have the words to explain how happy I am.”
And that would have been something glossed over in typical times. But, now, it is an antidote for the raging corruption scandal in the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. Comfort comes from the fact that Hodges' story is every officer's story — fighting the little battles against the bad things in life, keeping at it, losing some, winning enough. They are our protectors.
It has been another week of news reports that demonstrate how the misdeeds of some flawed institutions often eclipse the good works of dedicated individuals who labor on within them, serving nobly, remaining true to the ideals that brought them there in the first place.
At Penn State, the Jerry Sandusky saga continues. With the Pennsylvania attorney general and the presiding judge in Sandusky's trial both appointing lawyers to investigate additional allegations, news will continue to swirl about the bad and not the good.
It is easy to forget that Penn State remains a great university, served by dedicated staff and faculty, embraced by students with a hunger for knowledge. They are all there to find ways to better serve their families and community. They are our future.
With the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, news reports from Rome quickly alleged that he left in frustration, unable or just too weary to take control of a scandal that has consumed the Vatican. With the arrest and conviction of the pope's trusted personal butler over purloined documents that were leaked to the press, matters were sure to get worse, and they have.
Lost in all this are those average priests — in parishes or classrooms or poverty-stricken neighborhoods — with no time for salacious scandal. Saving lives and souls, aware that they are too often heaped among the evil-doers, they suffer these indignities quietly and struggle forward, embracing their mission.
They are our salvation.
Any errant institution, fraught with misfeasance and malfeasance, must be held accountable and changed radically, if necessary. Like moths to a flame, it is easy to be drawn to the light and heat generated by those institutions that have failed us spectacularly.
And it is too easy to forget those individuals who continue to serve through it all. Give the next one you see a kind word, a solid handshake or a pat on the back.
Joseph Sabino Mistick, a lawyer, law professor and political analyst, lives in Squirrel Hill (SabinoMistick@aol.com).