My friend Alan Cross, a Southern Baptist pastor, on his Facebook page, speaks the truth:
Anthony Bourdain committed suicide. Heartbreaking. I loved his travel shows. He had a way of talking to people all over the world that was real and showed their worth/value. He did it through highlighting their food and culture and I loved every show I saw. He was a hardened individual on the surface, but he had a way of valuing people and places. Here is a story I saw on Twitter from a writer named @toastasaurus:
“I met Anthony Bourdain only once, while waiting in line at a food festival. Instead of hello he said “hey kid, you hungry?” and it was like I’d bumped into an old friend. He spent the ten minutes listening to me talk about the home country of my parents, Trinidad & Tobago, with the utmost engagement. Like an ambassador studying up, ready to go. I wanted him so badly to visit there. I felt I could trust him to see what I saw in Trinidad, as if the heart of the country would be safe in his hands as a person and traveler. You trusted him with Your Heritage.
We left the line with longanisa in hand. He clinked his beer bottle to mine and thanked me for my time like he’d had an appointment with me all along. I watched him slope off to happily try another line hoping so hard he’d visit my people.
He did, ultimately. My whole family watched it. Practically the whole island did. It was like the president visiting your home country. We all watched as Tony Bourdain spoke of the island as if he’d fallen in love with it. I hope he did.
I think many of us trusted him to do that, to fall in love with the places we came from and to understand why we lived there or why we left there. We trusted him to see us as people first. Not curiosities.
Sometimes I like to pretend that my ten minutes convinced him to visit. But that was his charm, really, that he met passion with passion. That he understood the complexity of people just as well as he understood the complexity of food.
Sometimes the strange thing about the architecture of fame is that you almost feel someone you admire is the totality of their being. The parts of them that change you are the parts you focus on, and whatever pain he battled was not part of that.
I’m sorry that such levels of pain is a country we shared. We have all lost an ambassador today. Anyways, I guess that’s all I wanted to say.
Goodbye, Anthony Bourdain. Thank you for visiting my beloved island.“
Me: Depression is a horrible thing. Loneliness. Isolation. Pain. Some of the most sensitive people who can see the value and worth and pain in others are those themselves who are suffering in their own heart, soul, and mind. The old saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” rings true today. And every day. We have no idea what people around us are going through. Be kind.
And, if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, fear, loneliness, rejection, or anything that causes you to despair of life, please know that you are not alone. That God loves you. That Jesus died for you and He understands your pain, rejection, and loneliness. That you deserve to be helped and loved and that this feeling is not the end of things, no matter how bleak things may seem. There is always tomorrow and another chance for love and light to break in. And, to know that it is not abnormal to feel those things and you might not be fixed but you can still love and be loved and even though you so badly want the pain go away, even when the pain is raging, that there is still goodness and light and love in God and in other people and it is worth experiencing each day. And, please get help. Talk to someone. A doctor. Call a helpline. Anything. Just don’t stop trying. You matter. You really do matter.
Bourdain had more cross-cultural skill than just about anyone I’ve ever seen – including most missionaries I’ve met (who could learn a lot from him – we all could) – because he never stopped being himself and because he just valued people and was interested in them, who they were, their heritage, and what they had to offer. We need more of that in the world. I need to be more like that.
The world lost an ambassador today. So sad.
His thoughts on my beloved hometown of New Orleans are in this picture.