Commentary by Jacqueline Bennett


When NBC’s Brian Williams broke into regular programming Monday night with a news bulletin I braced myself to hear about another horrific incident in the Middle East conflict. Instead, as the rest of the nation, I was stunned to learn that beloved Academy Award winning actor, and comedian Robin Williams was dead at age 63.

From the beginning the sadness in Brian Williams’ announcement indicated there was more to the story. And, in a broadcast press conference yesterday the local sheriff’s office announced Williams had been found in his California home presumably having hung himself. He leaves a wife and three children. A cultural icon, he also leaves fans worldwide to mourn the loss.

Like most of America, I first watched Williams on the television situation comedy series “Mork & Mindy” then later in movie roles such as “Mrs. Doubtfire”, “Dead Poet’s Society”, “Good Morning Vietnam” and my personal favorite “Good Will Hunting.” He was always entertaining as a talk show guest, someone I would tune in to watch. In a wonderful “Making a Difference” segment last evening, NBC news also elaborated on Williams’ many charitable efforts and the time he spent entertaining American troops.

His mind always seemed to move at laser speed. It set him apart and was a key to his success – but that must have been exhausting.

Robin Williams’ battle with addiction was well-known. Lesser known, however, was his struggle with depression. Often associated with physiological causes, both of these are the kind of demons that run deep. Certainly, they cannot be solved by a smile and friendly hello.

Nonetheless, a smile and friendly hello can never hurt. And, we are left to be reminded that in the course of living our lives each day conducting ourselves with caring and common decency are gifts – because one never knows, what someone else’s pain might be.