WHEN MINNESOTA WEEPS...
Whatever the calamity and wherever its locale -- a hurricane in New Orleans, an earthquake in Central America, a famine in Africa -- this much is certain: The people, communities and congregations of Minnesota won't be outdone in their generosity of supplies, money and time at the scene. Helping others in need is part of the Minnesota ethos, a culture constitutionally incapable of proclaiming, "Me first."
So when a major bridge collapsed Wednesday evening in Minneapolis, one psychic reflex was to ask how the rest of us might help.
The early answer: The modern inheritors of a tough prairie culture's stoicism and self-sufficiency will handle their losses by themselves. If we can generalize: Asking for sympathy isn't in the emotional repertoire of the typical Minnesotan.
The fall of a high and wide bridge, and the resulting tumble of cars into the Mississippi River that flows from an upstate Minnesota lake, is a common phobia come horrifically to life. Commuters headed home after work, baseball fans bound for a Twins game -- all of them trusting in the tidy rituals of urban travel: We believe in the integrity of our bridges and roads, to the extent that we think about them at all, because few among us have ever seen one fail.
As residents of the Twin Cities metropolitan area mourn their casualties, there may be little tangible that those of us elsewhere can do to assist. If that is so, we at least can halt our own routines to acknowledge a troubling paradox: People who've given so much to so many now will bolster one another in their own hour of need. So it is when Minnesota weeps.
Editorial in Chicago Tribune. Thanks to our friends in the Windy City and throughout the world.