JOPLIN, Mo. —
I tend to go through life without thinking.
Or without thinking too much. I always felt that deep thinking was for folks ... well for folks who were deep thinkers. I tend to be a shallow thinker.
Much like Mr. Magoo, I wander blindly, without thinking, through life barely escaping one looming disaster after another. But every once in a while my not thinking will rise up and bite me in the Pound.
Wednesday was one of those times. A nice lady from Joplin called to tell me about a neat deal on Facebook. The lady told me that Joplin was in an online voting contest and possibly could win $100,000 to be used to help repair Cunningham Park which was destroyed in the May 22 tornado.
I thought that was a neat deal and wrote a column urging people to go online and vote for Cunningham Park. In the column I also noted that, at the time, Joplin was in third place behind a park in Minnesota and a park in North Dakota.
In making my case for Cunningham Park I attempted to make a couple of lame jokes about North Dakota and questioned whether the park in North Dakota deserved the $100,000 top prize more than Cunningham Park.
“Did an EF-5 tornado rip through Oak Park in North Dakota? I don’t think so,” is what I wrote.
Now, had I been thinking, I probably would have asked myself, before I wrote those dumb jokes about North Dakota and before I questioned whether or not Oak Park was more deserving than Cunningham Park, why Oak Park was part of the contest in the first place.
I knew that Oak Park was in Minot, N.D. What I didn’t know, but should have known, is that Minot was devastated by the spring flooding. I don’t mean Minot was inconvenienced by a flood I mean it was devastated. As in thousands and thousands of people displaced. As in lives uprooted, homes lost, possessions washed away, and futures left hanging in the balance.
Thursday morning I spoke with a very nice lady named Gwen from Minot. Gwen told me that she lost her home in the flood. She also told me that during the flood, Oak Park, which is in the heart of the downtown area, was deep under water.
I talked to Gwen for some time Thursday and I told her pretty much what I am now telling you.
Since May 22, I, along with everyone else in Joplin, have learned a thing or two about devastation. I want the folks in Minot, and everywhere else for that matter, to understand that I would never, ever intentionally made light of, trivialize or belittle anyone who has suffered in the aftermath of any sort of tragedy. I tend to be an idiot, but I’m not a mean idiot.
What I did was dumb, it was stupid and it was moronic. But it was not intentional. Yes, I should have known that Oak Park was all but destroyed in the flood, but I didn’t. Had I known that, I would not have joked about North Dakota nor would I have questioned whether or not Oak Park deserved to win the contest more than Cunningham Park. Sure, I would have made my case for our park and I would have urged Joplin folks to vote for their own park. But I also would have urged the people in Minot to continue to vote for their park.
But I didn’t do that. Instead I upset a lot of very good people who are still trying to put the lives together after a horrible tragedy. I can’t say this strongly enough. I am very sorry.
What I was trying to do was root for the town I have lived in and worked in for most of my adult life. What I was trying to do was give the folks in Joplin a diversion. Something positive and maybe give them a chuckle or two. What I did instead was hurt a lot of good people who, like the people in Joplin, don’t deserve to be hurt.
I didn’t think. And I made a Pound of myself.
JOPLIN, Mo. —
I tend to go through life without thinking.
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