I received a phone call from a man whose heartbroken voice clearly showed me he was in pain. We arranged to meet so he could give vent to whatever was making his life a hell on earth. When he came he unexpectedly took out of his pocket a copy of my article ‘A monster within’ which was published on this page in the August 5 edition of the newspaper. The distraught and tearful man explained how somebody had photocopied my article and sent it to him as an anonymous letter.
The sender had highlighted parts of the article which, according to him or her, depict the jealousy of the shattered man I had in front of me. The highlighted phrases tacitly conveyed a negative picture of the recipient.
The sender implied that the recipient was condemned, that he would not inherit God’s kingdom because he lets jealously control his life. Furthermore, he or she indirectly accused him of being a harmful and suspicious person because he instigates strife and discord among his friends.
The sender chose words to deliberately hurt the recipient. The recipient was left with the conclusion that he “knows no humanity, respect or understanding” since he carries “this green-eyed monster of jealously deep within” himself, and that his craving to succeed makes him trample on the well-being of others.
Indirectly the sender told the recipient to “stop wanting what other people have if you are not ready to pay the price they paid to have it...”.
Needless to say, I felt completely disgusted and insulted at this shameful show of hatred.
Anonymous letters are always the despicable exercise of an unbridled violence. They are psychologically and ethically difficult to handle because the author normally knows that he or she has total freedom over the content of the letter.
Anonymity renders the letter-writer both overconfident and highly critical. Moreover, psychologically and morally, anonymous writers are no longer controlled by the rules of society but instead they choose to act as if no person is able to judge their actions.
The harm anonymous letters inflict on their recipients is great indeed. Many families and respected people end up destroyed because they believed what was written in the anonymous letters they received.
Being a recipient of a cruel anonymous letter is tormenting.
Just imagine if a person is constantly subjected to such a deplorable act on a protracted basis. He or she may inevitably start believing the filthy content s/he is constantly exposed to, and any kind of trust will surely be eroded.
My words of encouragement to recipients of anonymous letters, including this man, is that the sender of such disgraceful correspondence is simply angry. Given time, it will cease. Sadly, the writer may be undergoing serious problems or has a personality disorder.
Recipients should also keep in mind that if they simply do not open or read the mail the maliciousness stays with the sender.
Dear anonymous writer, stop fooling yourself and hiding behind the cheap mask of anonymity. Respect yourself by facing those who do not share your ideas. But never resort to the vile action of sending an anonymous letter.
Fr Attard is a member of the Order of Franciscan Capuchins.