Either figuratively or quite literally, the door to Hell opened up 10 miles from your front door.
Check Google Earth. Time the lights right on 27th Street and it takes about 20 minutes to go from the heart of Greendale to the heart of Oak Creek.
It takes less than a second to get to the heart of the Sikh – the same amount of time it takes to break the heart of a caring nation, a caring world.
Tragedy ties like-minded people together. As of 10:25 am Sunday, we are all Sikh. From sea to shining sea, from Cudahy to Punjab, we are all brothers and sisters.
Witnessing insanity, chaos and bone-chilling behavior is tough on the collective soul. It cracks the veneer of innocence, stealing youthful energy from our very core. We all aged too much in the last 5 days.
Darkness drenched us on that sunny Wisconsin Sunday. Night fell early and night fell hard. And some nights you just want to call it a day.
Only one person should have died Sunday. The others deserved a better fate. We all do. Face it – we all died a little bit on Sunday.
Angry? You bet. We should be. Add disgusted, discouraged and disappointed to that cauldron of community emotion. Let’s experience the bitterness of this stew, savor the awful taste it leaves on our tongues. Let it burn.
And then let’s roll up our shirt sleeves, rip off the kid gloves and climb back in that ring. We will fight the good fight, every minute, every day.
While it is never easy, we – as we always do – will dig deep. Evil never gets to win. The devil never has his day. The devil does not dance in the O.C – the devil dies. So, chin up, partner. It is a good day to fight back.
We owe this to those brave beautiful families waiting outside their temple – these very same people who pray for things like the pursuit of justice for all human beings. You will not find a better friend than a Sikh.
We owe this to a cop willing to take 9 shots to his chest to stop a killer. Down, critically injured, bleeding, the cop - Brian Murphy - refuses initial medical help, directing the responders to first tend to the worshippers in the temple. Right, you were only shot 9 times, Lieutenant Murphy.
An idiot brought Oak Creek to the Gates of Hell on Sunday. There is some comfort that even here, Heroes and Angels still abound.
Ever hear the line, “l’enfer, c’est les autres”? Yeah, me either. However, it is from Jean-Paul Sartre’s existential classic, “No Exit”. In the play, three deceased people are punished by being locked into a room together for eternity. No cable.
Actually, you have heard that line – just in English. “Hell is other people.” Cynics use it all the time to sarcastically condemn all of mankind. But, as they taught me at UWSP, that was not Sartre’s intended message.
It is a subtle, but important difference: Hell is not other people. Hell is certain other people.
Do not lose faith in mankind. Enjoy your existence. We will try our best, we will be vigilant and we will be brave. And when insanity happens, let’s do this: bond, light a candle, and embrace.
All we can do is all we can do. That is us at our best.