26 August 2006
Not Only Cyclones and Tops Spin!
I hope The Weather Channel is prepared for the amount of spinning unleashed on us as federal-level politicians and the media revisit the devastation caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita one year ago. The people of Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, however, will know that it is just Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or some other day of the week in their continuing efforts to recover some normalcy for their lives.
Too many people will be more sad than usual in their grieving for loved ones lost in August or September 2005. Perhaps I am out of the loop, but I have not read about any special, public memorial services for ordinary and extraordinary folks who died then. Where are our faith-based politicians calling together religious leaders for nationally broadcast, religious services in Biloxi, New Orleans and Houston?
For me, I will mourn the loss of yet another part of The American Myth that assured me that Americans living in poverty still lived better lives than those poor people elsewhere in the world. I knew what the real situation was, but I could ignore it until I saw misery broadcast into my own home. [This same experience of a great wrong being revealed happened when American television brought the Viet Nam War into America's living rooms.] I'm sure there are some who had held out hope that their countries, too, could might a better life as represented in the American Dream. Television screens around the world revealed a level of poverty and despair not imaginable to exist in America. I saw no differences between the victims of Katrina and other hurricane victims in New Orleans or Port-au-Prince. This week I anticipate masked or overt blaming of just about everybody, including the victims.
I think a more appropriate posture is one of shame and disappointment that so much has not been done due to our inability to strive for the collective betterment, the common good that survivors of this regional disaster have. Do we have to continue agendas of personal greed or power in the community decisions about rebuilding, redesigning and restoration of cities, towns and neighborhoods? Why reestablish the physical conditions and political boundaries that led to what was bad about the former life? Someone has to take the lead and assume responsibility for major items such as creating more physically secure, underground infrastructure, creating a desirable balance between green and water space versus structures and roads, creating public transit easements for future light-rail or water-based public transportation and creating the buildings that will serve as the anchors for commercial and residential development. Someone has to take the personal responsibility for leading communities in building better public education facilities, staffing and teacher welfare and support.
To me, any public ceremonies pertaining to Katrina and Rita should be confined to memorials. When (it will!) it becomes more appropriate, then we can celebrate recovery and restoration of that huge portion of the North American continent. Now is not the time to celebrate incompetence, deception, equivocation and self-serving actions and attitudes. From the media, it seems we will have another opportunity to generate hate and discontent led by our President and members of both political parties in Congress. I resent the pandering to the private interests, with us paying the bill, and stirring up the Spin Forces of Politics once again.
Batten down, everyone.