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Monday, Apr 23, 2018
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Otto: Tampa is full of people doing good during bad times

I probably should have been paying more attention in class when the instructor suggested that T.S. Eliot was making allusions to other things when he began “The Wasteland” with “April is the cruelest month.”
I didn’t understand much of the rest of his poem either, much less what it was he didn’t like about April. I’ve always been a little partial to the month, mostly for baseball and the Masters tournament and our ancient gardenia bush that explodes with flowers about the middle of the month without fail.
But anyone would be hard pressed not to agree that this has been a rough few weeks. It has been so bad we’ve almost forgotten the mad-boy ruler of North Korea who began the month by all but promising to destroy us with nuclear annihilation.
From the horror of Boston that brought back memories of 9/11 to the massive explosion at a chemical distribution plant in Texas, it has been bad news on top of bad news.
Storms have raged across the country. The economy has continued to gnaw at us, and our leaders have been notably absent in Washington. I mean, there was even an Elvis impersonator who allegedly sent deadly chemical-laced letters in the mail to the president and others.
I turned on the tube Friday, and the entire city of Boston and surrounding towns were shut down because a new kind of terrorism had washed ashore.
What I did pick up, listening to the coverage, was that Americans were less fearful than they were ticked off that there are murderers such as this invading our lives.
Americans are a good people. In fact, my problem Friday was deciding which event to attend. There was going to be an annual luncheon downtown for child abuse awareness and the Joshua House. At the same time, Wild Bill Minahan was hosting his annual benefit for LifeLink organ donations at the Columbia in Ybor City.
Over the weekend there was going to be the Tuxes and Tails benefit for the Humane Society, and out in eastern Hillsborough County was a gathering to honor the victim of the Bloomingdale library attack five years ago and her continuing struggle to return to a “normal” life.
That’s the kind of people we are, the sort who come together to deal with any situation.
I have to admit, given a choice, I wanted to go to Minahan’s affair. The Gonzmart family donates mountains of food, and dozens of Minahan’s former students and coaching friends swap stories and lies that grow a little every year, all in the name of supporting organ donation.
But instead, I went to the child abuse luncheon, where Detective James McBride was scheduled to talk about the trafficking of children in the United States (more on that Monday). Florida ranks third in the number of children trafficked for sexual abuse — an awful statistic you wish legislators might concern themselves with a little more than whether they can offer free lunches to lobbyists. They won’t.
Maybe April is the “cruelest” month after all.
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