The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
For every bad, there's a good. I keep telling myself that.
For every story about someone losing a loved one, there's someone finding out that a loved one is safe.
For every idiot saying that the people who stayed in New Orleans don't deserve to be helped, there's a story like this:
Alice Wilder,10, Elena Page, 13, Coco Wilder,12, and Mary Perot, 12, from left, call on passing cars, as they continue to collect funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005, in Brighton, N.Y. The money will be doanted to the Ameriacn Red Cross. AP Photo/ Carlos Ortiz
For every jackass who emails me and asks when I'm going to stop writing about this, there's someone who emails me with links to good news stories, or offers of help with the school supplies drive.
For every looter in New Orleans, there's ten people doing things like this:
For every blogger who has spent seemingly every waking minute using this as an opportunity to drive home political messages, there are ten bloggers doing what they can to get help where it's needed.
For everyone who thinks someone else will pick up the slack and help out, there's this:
We have PLENTY of room in our house to take in a few families who have survived Katrina. I don't want to put a number on it because I'm sure we can fit more than I could come up with in my head. My kids are willing to combine rooms, so we could probably take in 3-4 families of 4, possibly more.
I just heard the mayor of New Orleans crying on CNN.
The Astrodome is full and can't take any more refugees.
There has been an explosion (possibly hazmat) in the area of the Superdome.
People are dying like animals on the street.
And everywhere - in newspapers, on blogs, on message boards, on tv - there are people who, swathed in safety and comfort and not anywhere near New Orleans, are saying things like "they had warnings, they should have gotten out," or "it's their fault for living there in the first place." It's the equivalent of that absurd line from Airplane! (they bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let 'em crash.) which was so funny because it was absurd - ha ha, who would really say a thing like that? Well, people are.
It's easy to sit here and second guess those people (and I am not talking about those who stayed because they though the idea of a "hurricane party" a bright one) who stayed. Maybe some of them did just refuse to leave because of some sort of bravado, but I'm guessing that's not the case with the majority. There were a lot of people without the means to go or a place to go to. What about the sick, the elderly, the handicapped? What about those with no cars? Some people had no choice but to stay. And yes, some people stayed on their own accord, and I'm going to backtrack a bit on something I wrote about earlier and say, I don't blame them.
I've been thinking about this. I live on an island. If there were a warning to get the hell out (let's say a weather related potential disaster headed this way), I don't know that I would go. Chances that I would get off the island are slim to none, anyhow. Perhaps if I lived closer to the city line I'd have a chance to get over a bridge and away from here, but it's more likely that I'd be stuck in a sea of escaping cars that moved an inch an hour. I would much rather stick it out and possibly survive, or even die in my own home, clinging to my loved ones, than drown while sitting in traffic on the Long Island Expressway, trying to get off the island. I already sat in flood waters on the LIE once, when I was about 14. We saw a coffin drift out of a hearse. I'll pass on having that experience again.
You just don't know. I don't understand the callousness of people who turn their backs on those who need help because they feel it's deserved. I don't understand the cruelty of those who are taking the looters and shooters and making them the poster children for every single refugee in the area now, as if that's what they all are.
And while we are on the subject, I don't understand those that don't understand the anger of the people down there. No, not the shooters, but those who are near rioting and yelling and cursing every one of their government officials. They have lost everything, some of them having lost people, not just possessions. They have nothing to go home to, nothing to go forward to. They are starving. Hot. Tired. Sick. They have small children, elderly parents or are sick themselves. They are frustrated and, in some cases, dying. There are tourists who are completely stranded, left to sleep on street corners. There are kids without parents, parents without their kids, people in need of medicine who are going without, people dying on the streets right in front of them, bodies pushed to the side and left there to rot in the heat. How would you react? What would you be doing? Put yourself in that place for a minute or two.
How easy it is to sit here and Monday morning quarterback a freaking hurricane, like it was some great game and now you're going over the X's and O's and figuring out who to bench the next time.
Save it. There will be plenty of time for blame later. There will be plenty of people "benched" over this. You'll get your pound of flesh eventually. For now, we should all, every one of us, be figuring out what we can do to help.
I think some people, watching from their living rooms where they can just turn off the tv and get on with their lives, don't understand the magnitude of this. We are talking more dead people than 9/11. I bet, that when all is said and done, the death toll is closer to 10,000 than not.
Maybe there is nothing we can do from here except give whatever dollars we can to a charity or send some clothes or basic supplies down. But what we should NOT do is make this into a political fight, at least not yet. There is a lot of sadness and anger in this country right now, I don't think we should be spending our days right now calling for heads to roll or making political hay out of a disaster. Yes, we should question why things have gone the way they have, if only to get it on the right track. Ok, I don't know what I'm saying, I'm talking in circles right now and probably to myself as no one has read down this far in my ridiculous monologue, but I, too, am frustrated. And somewhat angry. And sad. And I am all those things in my dry, warm living room. I just wish people would take themselves mentally out of that comfort zone for just a few minutes and imagine themselves in the situation of the people they would turn away from. Imagine being there and then knowing that there are fellow Americans sitting around discussing how you deserve to be standing there in filth, hopeless and hungry and wondering if you're going to die before you get help.
And this is why I keep doing the good news things, because I want to believe. I want to believe that humanity is good, that people are good, that things are going to be rectified, that the good souls outweigh the bad, that our government is doing all it can to help these people, that one day the affected people will have rebuilt lives and hope for the future.
Yes, I have questions. I have complaints. I want to know a lot of things about the way this was (or wasn't) handled. As Americans, we deserve to know this, we have the right to know why hospitals weren't evacuated and why this seems like one fuck up after another. But later. There is so much time for that later. Right now, we should not be stopping our leaders and politicians to answer our questions, we should just let them go do what they are supposed to be doing. Later. There is always later for the second guessing and and accusations and pitchforks and torches. And answers.
We are supposed to, as humans, be compassionate. I've seen some behavior in the past few days that make me doubt that compassion and empathy are inherent in human beings. But there are stories, the good stories, the heart warming things, the people opening up their hearts and homes and wallets, that make me believe that all the scum of the earth can never outnumber the good.