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COMMENTARY: Word failure

August 28, 2017

NOTE: The following is an opinion piece. The opinions stated in commentaries, here and otherwise in our newspaper, are those of the author and not The Brillion News, Zander Press Inc. or the owners or staff. The Brillion News welcomes letters to the editor to respond to this or any other topic of interest.

Commentary by Ed Byrne 

Usually, I’m pretty good with words. Math is a totally different story, but words and I get along pretty well.

However, when I learned that Rebecca and Raelia Pennenberg, mom and daughter, 44 and 18, had been struck and killed by a drunk driver, the right words were nowhere to be found.

I gave up trying to search for them, and later I remembered a book by Robert Cardinal Sarah, an African archbishop. This book is titled The Power of Silence Against the Dictatorship of Noise and was published earlier this year.

He calls heaven “an endless silence, nestled in God’s love.”

“The liturgy of eternity is silent … a silence of fullness,” Cardinal Sarah writes. “The main fault of [our] Western [worship] is that it is too wordy.”

There’s a saying, which my dad used a lot with my kid brother and me when we said something stupid: “It is better to be silent and mistaken for being a fool than speaking and removing all doubt.”

That’s really an old idea. In Chapter 17 of the Book of Proverbs, you’ll find: “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent.”

So not knowing what to say, or how much to say, might not be a bad thing in the face of overwhelming sadness like the senseless deaths of two beautiful and good women.

Sometimes, no words can capture how bad you feel about something.

Maybe the right prayer is the unspoken one.

I know that I often use the “mute” button on the remote control and realize that so much of television is just meaningless noise.

Sign me

I like it when I see a great sign.

There is the sign near Darboy, in front of a place that sells natural fertilizer and stuff like that for gardens: “Top soil, dirt cheap.”

Now that’s clever.

Of the marquee on the strip club north of Appleton that reads: “No cover.”

Several years ago, there was a sign in a parking lot next to a building. It read: “Vertical parking only.”

Really? Does anyone bother to find out what a word means before making a sign using it?

The sign I want to see, in a parking lot at a store or mall: “This space reserved for senior citizen with infant.”

That would surely get people to wondering what you’ve been up to.

Byrne’s commentary was featured in the August 24, 2017 edition of The Brillion News. There was a printing error that omitted part of the commentary in the print edition. 



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