The nature of forgiveness (5×8 – 2/29/12)

A culture of forgiving, Legacy money for school art programs, a death in Easy Company, end of the door-to-door sale, and embracing winter again.

The power went out this morning in Woodbury so I’m writing in the dark. The coffee is starting to get cold, the temperature is dropping. I’ll miss you all.

(h/t: Ross Raihala )


It was only coincidence that last night’s broadcast of PBS’ outstanding documentary, The Amish, came on the same day a young man accused of a shooting rampage in an Ohio school appeared in court. The program shook the fog from October 2006 memories of a shooting in Pennsylvania in which a non-Amish truck driver, held students in a school hostage, released the boys, and then shot the girls, killing five of them.

The remarkable response? That evening, a group of Amish, including some parents of the children, visited the man’s family — he’d shot himself to death as police moved in — to forgive him. When he was buried, the Amish showed up at the funeral to pay their respects.

Watch The Amish: Nickel Mines Clip on PBS. See more from American Experience.

A good documentary forces us to think inward and ask what we would do in that situation.

In Ohio, meanwhile, the city of Chardon set about healing yesterday by taking to the cellphones and social networks, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

“You can say a lot online or in texts,” one student said, “but you can’t really touch someone or hold their hand or even really see them. We’ll all be doing that more than we did before.”

A law in Ohio requiring schools to have plans in place for a shooting like the one in Chardon may have saved more students. So, too, might have an easing of restrictions on cellphone use by students, the paper said. Many schools are rolling back demands that students silence their phones or put them in the locker during the day, because the phones are now a critical link in providing emergency information.


Should Legacy funds — that’s money from the sales tax increase voted in a few years ago — be used for schools to teach art? The Legacy money was intended to be used to preserve and promote Minnesota culture and arts (disclaimer: MPR is a beneficiary). Yesterday, a committee in the Minnesota House heard a bill that would send 40-percent of the money to schools, according to the House Information Division’s Session Daily:

“My opinion on this is that children come first,” (Rep. Pat) Garofalo said, who faced questions from several members about how his bill fits with the constitutional amendment that funds arts, arts education and access to preserve the state’s history and cultural heritage.

“What you’re trying to do is take General Fund reductions and make it up with Legacy funding,” Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL-Mpls) said.

Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) said HF2344 represents the latest effort of funneling constitutionally-dedicated funds for other purposes.

Garofalo defended the bill as at attempt to allocate money to students on a per-pupil basis and let school district’s decide how best to use the money to promote arts.

Do you favor dedicating 40-percent of Legacy funds to schools?


“Buck” Compton has died at age 90. He was portrayed in the HBO miniseries, “Band of Brothers,” and had been honored on his birthday just a little over a month ago. He had a heart attack just a few days later and died Saturday. On the occasion, four actors from the series showed up to honor him.

Compton was a first lieutenant in Easy Company, which parachuted into Normandy on D-Day.

Even in the fame brought on by the TV show, Compton dismissed the attention the way many World War II veterans did. “I didn’t really do anything; I was just doing my job,” he said.


For the first time since we moved to the region 20 years ago (in two weeks), no Girl Scouts came to our door to sell cookies. We didn’t get the high school swim team members selling stuff this year, either. Or the football team booster club. Or the Cub Scouts selling popcorn. Or the parochial school selling candy bars. Or any other kids selling stuff.

If I look hard enough, I can find cookies for sale in malls and other popular destinations, but the era of a knock on the door apparently is over. Perhaps that’s for the best. As a man in 2012, you can’t invite a Girl Scout in out of the cold while you make your selection, so you have to sit on the stoop in the sub-freezing temperature, to assure the mother, usually standing down by the driveway, that you’re not “Moose Lake material.”

Still, Angela Johnson writes on the Woodbury Patch, we’re losing something with the end of the door-to-door sale:

I’m not interested in getting an email from the parent of a Girl Scout or a Facebook message with redundant blips of follow-up not unlike some annoying email reply-all.

A friend replied to a cookie sale email by promptly calling the Girl Scout to place her order. The parent proceeded to arrange a time to complete the sale. That’s when my friend realized that she was never going to lay eyes on the child. How sad.

What’s next? Ordering cookies online with shipments arriving in our mailbox? Say it isn’t so.

Some say that door-to-door sales are unsafe. That seems silly. We should get to know our neighbors for goodness sakes. Parents must take time to accompany their scout not only for safety. It provides opportunity to coach them on selling and interpersonal skills.


When is snow not the disaster metro-bound people often make it out to be? When an economy depends on it and when Minnesota has residents who play in it. It’s great news for them that northern Minnesota got the brunt of last night’s storm and some closed snowmobile trails may reopen before it all melts next week. You take winter when you can find it.

Last evening on All Things Considered, reporter Sarah Harris introduced many people to ice sailing.

But on the radio, you couldn’t see what it looked like. Radio is odd like that.

I’m looking for experienced ice sailors in Minnesota who’d like to take a blogger for a ride.

Related (sort of): Minnesota, land of awesome.

Bonus I: The Timberwolves as a sitcom. Would’ve made more sense last year, but last year nobody cared.

Bonus II: A Wisconsin girl, who was discovered kept in a cage years ago, has grown up, and has lessons the rest of us would do well to learn.

Bonus III: Hey, employers. Would it kill you to let people applying for your jobs know their status?

Bonus IV: Website launched to crowdsource data on alien life. (BBC)


All of the major candidates running for president are multimillionaires. Today’s Question: Could a person of average means ever become president?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Why it matters that politicians are rich?

Second hour: Rick Steves is known to many as the guru of European travel. Now he’s embarking on a road trip in America, taking some time to explore the diversity of the American landscape.

Third hour: The art of the apology.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Grover Norquist, founder of Americans for Tax Reform, who spokes to the White Bear Area Chamber of Commerce.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Following up on yesterday’s Michigan and Arizona primaries with Ken Rudin, political analyst at NPR.

Second hour: What’s been lost in Afghanistan in the wake of the burning of the Quran?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Minnesota state finance officials release the latest budget forecast today. Will it show another budget surplus and, if so, what does that mean? Capitol reporters will have the story this evening.

Fadi, a young Afghan boy is new to the United States. At school, he stands out. He’s trying to fit in. He’s learning American customs and the English language, but then something terrible happens — 9/11 happens. NPR’s Backseat Book Club brings you an immigrant’s tale of how a young boy uses photography to fit in his new home.