The Sober Results of Tragedy.
I don’t understand why the world spins the way it does.
Yesterday, Omaha witnessed the worst mass killing in the city’s history. It took place in the most public of places…in a building that thousands of residents and suburbanites have visited…many within the past couple of days. After watching the events transpire last night, I couldn’t help but think of the random brutality that usually only happens on TV or inside my computer monitor.
This morning, I drove on Dodge Street past Westroads mall, just as I do nearly every day…and noticed the fleet of squad cars…the TV satellite trucks and of course the mobile command center parked directly in front of the steps I’ve traveled dozens upon dozens of times. It’s one of those things that you take completely and totally for granted….your safety. No matter how long I live…no matter how much water has washed under the bridge, I will never pass that mall and think of anything else.
When you run a blog like this, you fulling expect to get flack and then some. I expect that not everybody will understand just why I say the things I do in this very webspace, just as I fully expect to be second-guessed and even ridiculed. I expect many of you to get mad. I expect many of you lose your cool and fire off four-letter tirades at the guy who is disrespecting your fellow fans and your way of life. I get it. I understand it. I cause it many times for my own amusement.
But during times like these…I beg you to realize something. The one thing you need to understand is the separation between sports banter and real life.
Sports is an outlet…a hobby…an activity. Following sports…talking about sports…is something that people do to distract themselves from the monotony of everyday life. I understand that. I believe in that. Hell, I’ve been accused of single-handedly causing Missouri and Nebraska fans to hate each other. But events like Wednesday’s make you realize..or SHOULD make you realize…just how small and insignificant sports are in the grand scheme of life.
Despite what you may think, I love Omaha. I care about Omaha. A large majority of the people I love and hold most dear live in Omaha. When something like this happens, things like new coaches or BCS bowls or border rivalries or whatever may get you fired up means absolutely nothing. In moments like this, the only things that matter are the safety of your family, and supporting those around you who have been affected…either directly or indirectly by this tragedy.
I’m sorry that many of you have false impressions about me. I’m sorry you feel that a few weekly ramblings directed at nobody in particular made in partial jest falsely paint the full portrait of how I feel. It’s unfortunate that it takes a tragedy of this magnitude for me to remind you of that.
Despite those misnomers, we…as a community…are all in this together. We live together. We work together…and in this case…we grieve and suffer together.
I’m so sorry to those who were affected by this. I feel sick to my stomach, thinking of the loved ones who will never again see their family members. It’s jarring to think of how you would feel if you lost somebody very close to you, for simply no other reason that they went to work or went shopping for Christmas gifts. My wife worked at a store inside Westroads for many many years. It’s simply a matter of luck and destiny that our lives were not effected in the same horrible manner that many others were…both those killed…and those who will never be the same after hiding for their lives while a killer was loose.
With some already complaining that the “attention” has been “too much”, it’s obvious that time will force us to move on soon. Eventually, that secure feeling will return. Eventually, the mental images of people streaming out of Von Maur with their hands up will become a memory. Soon we will talk about sports. I will continue to say things to make you angry. You will continue to counter with comments or inner-anger.
But please let this be a reminder that we are all in this together. (Even those of you reading this who do not call Omaha home) Despite our differences, despite our backgrounds, we all share a common bond.
Hug your family tonight…tightly for an hour if you have to. Never ever take them for granted and never ever be dumb enough to think that this or events like it can’t happen to you. And above all else, please keep those most affected by these events in your thoughts or prayers. In times of need, we only have each other to lean on.
Oh and one more thing. If you are so inclined…please turn emotions into actions and help your community. Despite the politics surrounding this horrible event, there are still things you can do to at least give kids in trouble throughout our area a fighting chance.
Youth Emergency Services in Omaha specializes in assisting homeless and neglected kids in our city. They provide everything from coats and blankets to counseling services for kids who have nowhere else to go. This is one of my favorite local charities, and I invite you to contribute to their cause in whatever way you can. In hindsight, we can not say if such programs would have stopped the events of yesterday. But these problems are very real, very local and they're here every day. God bless those who give their time and effort into such causes.
Information on YESOmaha can be found on their website here.
No matter what your race, religion, financial status or moral upbringing...there are several other outstanding programs assisting the youth of our community. They include:
Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Midlands ( link )
Teammates mentoring program. ( link )
Boys and Girls Club of Omaha ( link)