A Jewish nurse who treated the Pittsburgh mass shooter wrote an incredible letter about the power of love.
“I could care less what Robert Bowers thinks, but you, the person reading this, love is the only message I wish to instill in you.”
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Ari Mahler has a story that very few people can directly relate to but everyone understands on some level.
He was working his job as an RN at Allegheny General Hospital when news about the horrific mass shooting at a local synagogue broke on the news. Shortly after, the shooter Robert Bower was brought into the ER.
According to the Washington Post, at least three of the doctors and nurses who treated Bower and saved his life are Jewish. That fact quickly became an international story of its own. In response, Mahler posted a note to Facebook that has been shared more than 115,000 times.
“I’ve watched them talk about me on CNN, Fox News, Anderson Cooper, PBS and the local news stations. I’ve read articles mentioning me in the Times and the Washington Post,” he wrote. “The fact that I did my job, a job which requires compassion and empathy over everything, is newsworthy to people because I’m Jewish. Even more so because my dad’s a rabbi.”
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Mahler goes on to describe what it’s like being a Jewish person in America in 2018, where American Jews account for only 2 percent of the population but are victims of 60 percent of all hate crimes. As many Jewish people know, those aren’t new statistics. They are the fact of living as a Jewish person in American and many places around the world.
However, Mahler also opened up about why he chose to treat Bower, what that experience was like and why he chose to not tell him that he was Jewish while treating him:
To be honest, I didn't see evil when I looked into Robert Bower's eyes. I saw something else. I can’t go into details of our interactions because of HIPAA. I can tell you that as his nurse, or anyone's nurse, my care is given through kindness, my actions are measured with empathy, and regardless of the person you may be when you're not in my care, each breath you take is more beautiful than the last when you're lying on my stretcher. This was the same Robert Bowers that just committed mass homicide. The Robert Bowers who instilled panic in my heart worrying my parents were two of his 11 victims less than an hour before his arrival.
For Mahler, his job is one that requires compassion at all times, even love in the literal face of hatred. In some ways we all make choices every day in our lives when faced with hatred, misunderstanding or even violence. We can respond in kind or stay silent. Or, we can respond like Mahler, who finished his letter by saying:
Love. That’s why I did it. Love as an action is more powerful than words, and love in the face of evil gives others hope. It demonstrates humanity. It reaffirms why we’re all here. The meaning of life is to give meaning to life, and love is the ultimate force that connects all living beings. I could care less what Robert Bowers thinks, but you, the person reading this, love is the only message I wish instill in you. If my actions mean anything, love means everything.