Tuesday, September 06, 2005

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Like many people, I am at a loss for words after the hurricane. I almost said “in the aftermath,” but this is only the beginning. I am full of sadness—and anger. I can’t imagine a more abysmal failure of the “Department of Homeland Security.” Whatever the plan was for dealing with a disaster like this, it clearly did not include poor people, people without cars, people without relatives in other states who could afford to take them in, and people who were unwilling to leave behind loved ones who were too sick or poor or weak to leave.

It’s frightening to think it could have been worse. If a terrorist instead of a hurricane had blown a couple holes in the levees, there would not have been the days of warning that allowed 80% of the population to evacuate. In that case, however—if more white middle-class people had been standing on their roofs begging for help—perhaps the government would have responded with a sense of urgency.

This morning Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, said “I’m asking Congress, please investigate this now. Take whatever idiot they have at the top of whatever agency and give me a better idiot. Give me a caring idiot. Give me a sensitive idiot. Just don’t give me the same idiot.” As far as I can tell, “the same idiot” is George W. Bush. The hypocrisy of the Bush Administration in clothing their lack of compassion in a covering of religion is appalling. I think at a time like this one could do worse than remember John Donne’s original words:

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

On a purely selfish note, I am incredibly saddened that all my life I allowed one thing after another to postpone my visiting New Orleans, and I’ve never been there. I swear to God I’m going to Mardi Gras next year and dance down the street even if it’s under water.

1 comment:

Diane K. Martin said...

Yeah, I guess I share all these feelings: anger at the authorities who let a natural disaster become a madmade Disaster, sadness and sympathy for those whose lives will never be the same, and pissed at myself for not ever getting to New Orleans. I could have gone once, once when I was young and my life was still uncomplicated. I could have gone, but I didn't.