Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina - Not just a Natural Disaster--A Human Disaster

I wanted to share with you part of a conversation one of my classes had last night. Katrina was not simply a horrific natural disaster but one, as well, of human making. Of course, my assertion here is not really new news, dear reader, or all that original. Nevertheless, we enjoy hiding behind the phrase “natural disaster” because it allows us to shuck responsibility for past and present values. If it is a natural disaster, then there was, it has been suggested, nothing we could do about it. Yet, we know this is not true. Take for example the mandatory evacuation. When they say “evacuation,” what is really mean is:

“Evacuate if you can. We can offer no real help, so if you are poor and can’t leave or if you don’t have the means currently because you just flew into town under the impression that everything would be ok, because that is what you were told by airline officials, well then . . . we are sorry but your on your own. Here is a shelter but that’s it. I am on my way out myself. Good luck. Oh yeah—Please sign this form stating that you are willing to die instead of leave. See ya!”

The question that comes to my mind is: what do we owe those of our society who need the most? Is it ok to look at certain portions of our society and declare them “disposable” because of the life they were born into? Or even because they had done something in the past which placed them in their current situation? What do we owe to the “least” of our society? And what do we owe to ourselves? We will never be able to know for sure, but what happened in New Orleans didn’t have to happen. A category 4 hurricane was not unheard of and the levees could have, and should have, been constructed to withstand a 4. There is an attitude, I think, that suggests that the likelihood is so slim that such a natural event like that would happen—so, let’s just not worry about it. People don’t want to be taxed more and it will hurt my campaign to suggest such a project and so, as it most likely won’t happen on my watch, screw it. More than the levees, however, is the fact that New Orleans was ALWAYS very vulnerable! Again, dear reader, this is not new news. All you have to do is (was to) take one of the fun tours in New Orleans and find out that in the past the dearly departed would sometimes float down the street whenever there was really bad storms because the water level would rise and the bodies, just buried, would float away. One moment you are saying good bye to Uncle Bob and the next moment he had risen again to go surfing down the watery street. This is why New Orleans has above ground crypts for burial! More than being a fun story to tell all your patrons of the tour . . . it is true! So, there is no new news here folks. The people, and most important the elected offices of New Orleans, knew of the issues. They knew there could be problems if a bad storm hit and yet, THEY HAD NO PLAN! That is, no “real” plan for the “least” in their community--those who do not have the means to just pick up and leave at a moment’s notice because they don’t have the money or resources. No wonder there is looting going on, these people are pissed off and I don’t blame them. I would be pissed off too. Now I can’t see what they are thinking when steeling a flat screen TV set . . . I mean . . . what are you going to do with that now? How can you even get it out of the area? Really! Food, I get. Water, I get. Smokes, I even get that. Clean underwear, I really get that. But TVs? But I digress here. Forgive me dear reader. We call ourselves, at least recently in luscious SoundBits, “a culture of life.” Such a rhetorical phrase must extend beyond the current debate about the “right to die” uses or the “right to life” issues. A “culture of life” should be extended to, and concentrated on, those living now, this moment, and today. Is life really life when all a person does is survive? That is often what the poor of our society does – they survive. Simple survival is not living, it is sustaining and these are two totally different modes of being. A “culture of life” should direct us to care about those in society who has nothing and are living in poverty. We are one of the richest nations in the world (I do not say the richest because I really do not know if this is true any longer) why do we deem sections of society as “disposable?” There is no excuse. Katrina might have been a natural disaster but it is even more a human disaster and a human crime. Can we learn a lesson here? Will the images on our TVs (obtained by looting or legally) move us as a nation to do more than just donate a few dollars here or there? Will you be outraged enough to say: “enough is enough!” I ask you, because nothing will change unless we demand it on a large scale. My blog means nothing in this respect. Neither does yours (even if I know, and I do, dear reader, that you get a crap more traffic than I do and probably have subscribed readers). Action requires more than our tap, tap, tapping on our keyboards. This is “safe cyber counter culture,” and such safe forms of protest is, honestly, lame. More is need from me, from you, dear reader, your sister, brother, friends and family. Let’s let our voices be heard. Let’s say “shut up and put up! I voted you people in for a reason, you wanted the job, so now get with it!” (Okay, I did not vote most of these people in, I can’t stand many of them, but they wanted the job, they won the vote, so get off your asses and reject the status-quo!) --Rebekah

1 comment:

  1. OK here's the situation, I just lost what I wrote, so I aill be quicker this time. We created the whole of the situation, not just some of the ugly parts, but all of the ugly parts.

    We are part of a culture that judges itself on how the richest are living and how close the reat of us can come to that ideal. We should be judging our culture on how the poorest of the poor are treated. But are blinders are on so tight that 99% of the time, we forget how close we are to the poorest of the poor.

    But with these blinders we have blinded ourselves to an even bigger tragedy that we have created. I understand why people would loot a big screen tv. All the addicts of the area have just been cut off. Really, not a pretty picture. Of course they are out there stealing tv's. If you're looking for your next fix, you know that a big tv can get you money, can get you your next fix, and you've just gone without, wouldn't you be stealing a tv?

    Even if some of the people looting tv's aren't addicts that have just been cut off, it is still the culture in America that says if you have a big tv then you're doing all right. It's just an opportunity to catch up with the Jones'. (No pun intended.)

    We created the whole situation, ALL of it. It really is time for us to take a closer look at what this country is really doing for the poor. Selling drugs and unattainable standards of what it means to be living.


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