You might have heard that a couple of Atlanta radio hosts tried to make some ill-conceived "jokes" about Steve Gleason and ALS on the air yesterday. I didn't write about it then because, frankly, I didn't want to give those guys any more attention than they already had gotten and wanted the focus squarely on Gleason's published work. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you can catch up here.)
However, Gleason's response to the whole affair is exactly what we've come to expect from him. Posted via his Team Gleason Facebook page today:
Regarding the DJ skit in Atlanta yesterday. I would like to thank the public for their support. 'Defend Team Gleason' now has been officially redefined. Additionally, the DJs have provided genuine apology. Received and accepted. We have all made mistakes in this life. How we learn from our mistakes is the measure of who we are.
I think everyone can learn from this event. Its clear to me that, on a national & global scale, ALS is not understood, which is part of why its under funded and largely ignored. In the past 36 hours lots of people have been talking. Lets talk about this... There are zero treatments for ALS. If you take any action as a result of this event, I prefer it to be action to end ALS. See what we are doing to change that @ teamgleason.org. SG
My first reaction to hearing about the skit was, "Seriously, what kind of a person thinks this is funny?" Which is why my reaction immediately following was actually very similar to what Gleason writes in that second paragraph. I've learned so much about ALS from his struggle, and it's obvious that there still is a lot of learning that needs to take place.
The guys at the heart of this have lost their jobs, and while it's an appropriate response to their mistake, you won't find me dancing on the metaphorical graves of their radio careers. While nobody would want a national conversation about ALS to come about like this, the conversation is here. Let's follow Gleason's lead and have it.
As one Facebook commenter said, "Forgiveness doesn't excuse their behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart." Gleason has learned this lesson well.