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StarTribune – show some compassion

April 30, 2012

I pick up today’s Minneapolis StarTribune and I feel like I’m slapped in the face. Page one headline story in bold type “Vikings stadium caught in Capitol stare down” which updates readers on the progress of city and state subsidies to the tune of $548 million toward a new $1 billion dollar Vikings stadium. This subsidy will allow a billionaire team owner to continue providing a place of employment for his multi-millionaire employees. Nothing but more back-and-forth partisan bickering and not a lot of new information.

But it’s not the stadium measure, or the article, that felt like a slap in the face to me, but the layout of the front page of the paper. Directly under that Vikings headline story, separated by a mere half inch of white space and a 1 point horizontal black line was the following headline in even larger type (although not worthy of bold type): “Homelessness taking root in suburbs”. In this article we learned how fast homelessness in Twin Cities suburbs is growing; quadrupling in one suburb and exceeding previous year’s hight in another. Worst of all, we learned that the number of homeless youths, those children aged 12 – 18, rose by a whopping 40%.

There’s a Yiddish word – rakhmones. It’s pronounced just the way it’s spelled only the “kh” combination is said with the same sort of sound you might make if you were clearing your throat. The word translates into English as ‘compassion’, ‘pity’, ‘mercy’, or the more all-encompassing: empathy. In his book, The New Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten explain rakhmones by saying that we, “… should look upon others with the same love and feeling that a mother feels for the issue of her womb.”

I think rakhmones is an important concept and I think it’s one we each need to think about a little more and that’s why I felt like I was slapped in the face when I picked up this morning’s paper. The StarTribune could show a little rakhmones and not give us a headline story about the ultimate in greed and personal and political ambition and then directly below that story go on to give us a story on some of the city’s most unfortunate souls; people you would never trade places with and people who couldn’t afford a Vikings t-shirt let alone ever think about going to an actual game. In a perfect world, the stories would be reversed. In a realistic world, it would be nice if the stories could have at least been separated so the contrasts weren’t so glaring and disturbing.

The next time there’s a story to report on the Vikings stadium (which will probably be tomorrow), I hope it’s put where it belongs. I also wouldn’t be upset if that story included information that the Vikings will be paying for their own stadium.

Both articles can be found at

(The image above is a scanned image of this morning’s paper and I used it simply to illustrate the layout of the paper. I did not obtain permission to post the image and will remove it if requested. MBF)

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 30, 2012 12:47 pm

    Or maybe it could include a bit (you know like one line waaaay down at the bottom) about how many of those multimillions are being donated to curb homelessness, or possibly how the new stadium will include outcroppings so that the homeless can sleep sheltered under them (on nights other than game nights, of course).

    I don’t mean to be fecetious. I agree 100% with you. This is truly disturbing.


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