Saturday, September 03, 2005


I've been watching, reading and listening to news related to Katrina and New Orleans since it all started. Of course the usual emotions washed over me in waves as each new detail arrived: anger, sadness, helplessness, futility, pain. It's hard to really grok the scale of things there.

A Whole City Lost

The emotion for me this evening is fear. I try hard to not live in fear, but sometimes it grips me and I have to deal with it. I fear our nation has been stripped of essential services and supplies we need to handle situations like New Orleans. It's like some sick gamble. Stealing from Peter to pay Paul, hoping Peter won't notice right away.

We should be able to do better than we are doing right now. I just don't quite understand what has changed here in America, but something has and we need to wake up and fix it before we really get into trouble.

The amount of finger pointing, blame shifting and outright spin I'm seeing is just sick. The truth is we have lost whatever it is that brings Americans together in times of need. It's not lack of money, nor inability to prepare and execute safety plans.

We have lost our trust in one another.

When bad things happen, there are always a group of people that take advantage. Nothing new here. However, the majority of Americans have always outweighed this and prevailed to get things done. We are not seeing this in New Orleans and we really should be.

People are dying because our own government does not trust us to help ourselves. Churches feeding and housing refugees have seen those in their care taken and shipped off to another city because they were not authorized to care for them. What the fuck is that? Authorized? Since when do we need permission to help ourselves stay alive?

Granted, the police and military forces are stretch thin because of Iraq. That does make the job harder for those left here to handle things. But where is the trust in one another that makes good things happen? Why are we pointing guns at people barely able to walk? How come the civilian volunteers cannot enter the city to help people? Why can't we work together for the common good when we need to?

An army publication called the people in New Orleans an insurgency today. I'm sorry, but those people are Americans. Not the nicest ones, mind you, but Americans all the same. Has our mindset shifted so far that we cannot see that and act accordingly?

People with cameras are being told to leave and have had their equipment confiscated or destroyed. What's to hide? We know it's a bad scene, but can't we be honest about that and move on toward making things right? Why do we have to control the flow of information like this? Again, what's being hidden? I know an election cycle is coming, but do we seriously believe suppressing the information about the damage needs to be done to protect those in charge?

If they were acting as true statesmen, why all the secrecy and tough control over the city? Why keep people from reporting the news? I can only conclude we have some serious problems we are not being told about. Nothing else makes any sense.

Back on the trust issue. A growing number of blogs are detailing goofy and cruel actions by the military and police forces there. Folks who worked hard to organize aid are being denied access and they shouldn't be. The current plan is to evacuate the entire city. Why? What about those that have homes, businesses and other interests there? Can't they be allowed to help others, maybe secure their possessions, and do other simple human things?

Are we just going to close it all up and ignore it?

The lack of resources is easily explained. We have over extended ourselves in Iraq and it's showing now. The high level of control is necessary to keep the peace and allow rescue efforts to continue.

Why can't we be honest about these things and address them as a nation? Why are we not allowed to take pictures and communicate the situation to others? How come people have to die so our government can look good? Why can't our rescue teams, volunteers and the miltary / police work together like they use to do?

Fear and trust are gone and what's left is not pretty. Our leaders have cultivated fear and have used it to strip away rights, start wars and exploit us. That same fear has eroded trust between fellow Americans. All of this makes us weak and vulnerable when we need to be strong. It has also divided us, making us weaker still.

I don't know how to fix this stuff, but I do know I don't want to live in a world where churches need authorization to help people in need. I don't want to live in a place where taking the wrong picture can put you in jail or have your camera taken. And I sure don't want to be living in a place where keeping secrets that help prop up a failing government is worth American lives.

We need leaders we can trust. Leaders that inspire us to do great things. Leaders that the world looks up to and that we can be proud of. All I see today are people that act like sleezy businessmen that honor the bottom line and their own power above all else.

I'm not sure who to believe over this whole mess and that's a problem too because I should be able to know what is happening and trust those making it happen to do the right things at the right times.


What if we are attacked right now? If we can't handle this, can we really handle other things? Is our nation really so weak now and untrustworthy that we cannot take care of our own? Are we now sitting ducks while our corporations continue to make money hand over fist?


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