By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Aug 09, 2012 at 5:30 PM

As we all struggle a little to come to terms with the shooting at the Sikh temple last Sunday it's important to pay attention to what this has done, and will do, to our collective spirit.

The spirit of a city is an intangible thing. It's hard to define and hard to identify. You almost never know what the call it or what name it should have.

But it's there. The spirit of a city permeates life in that city. It's kind of like a delicate cloud that shrouds all the activities of a city and its people.

And make no mistake about it. What happened in Oak Creek didn't just happen in Oak Creek. It happened in Brookfield and Mequon and Shorewood and Greendale and Milwaukee. We all felt it.

Around the world they called it Milwaukee because a few people actually have an idea where Milwaukee is while nobody has a clue about Oak Creek.

For a couple of days Milwaukee was the lead story on newscasts the world over. We were the headline in newspapers. Online publications trumpeted Milwaukee hourly. Social media was all about Milwaukee.

And the news wasn't good news. It wasn't like people were talking about Milwaukee in a positive context. It doesn't get much less positive than a mass murder fueled by hate.

Time in the spotlight does funny things to people. It can make you act. It can drive you into a shell. It can make you feel like a star or like a cad. It can frighten you or it can make you bold.

What will it do to Milwaukee? What becomes of our spirit?

There is a chance, of course, that these days will fade away and we will go on our way, trudging on a daily basis toward whatever it is we are trying to do.

There is also a chance that we will feel ashamed of what happened, crawl into a shell and be reluctant to show our face in public.

Or we can use this tragedy, as full of sorry as it is, to show something to the world. We can show bravery and imagination.

Vigils and prayer services are fine. Reaching out to support the Sikh community is wonderful. But there must be more. Everybody holds a vigil. Everyone supports those harmed by madness.

This can be a time when our spirit shows the world that out of the ash heap of hate and blood and senseless violence we can show the world a better way.

It's a chance for Milwaukee to lead.

I don't know what form that action will, or should, take. That's for somebody else. But I do know that we need to show that our spirit may be bruised, but it is not broken.

Those without soul will ask, "What the hell are you talking about?"

They will laugh at the idea of a communal spirit. They will hide behind their twisted logic.

But this is not so much a matter of logic as it is a matter of heart.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.