For those of us who were drawn to live in Columbia by the Rouse vision of a "garden for growing people," the shooting at the Columbia Mall could be seen as the end of a dream ("Columbia mall shooting victims honored on one-week anniversary of the attack," Feb. 1).
Yet it does not have to be that way. The Mall was and is Columbia's downtown — the heart of the community. We cannot let one act of a deeply disturbed person destroy the commitment to the good that remains in the community and the capacity of the community to carry on the original vision of what Columbia was meant to be.
Instead of being frightened away from the Mall because of what happened, we should make a special point of going there — to say with our presence that no one can destroy the sense of fun in joining together that makes a community real.
Because of this, we should not go to the Mall just to shop or eat or be seen. We need to go to there to say to the watching world that Columbia is alive and well. It is a real community that knows how to carry on in spite of fear and threats. It is a community that knows how to nurture its members and, yes, remain a "garden for growing people."
Martin Siegel, Columbia
The writer was the founding rabbi of the Columbia Jewish Congregation and chairman of the effort to incorporate the city of Columbia.
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