2005.9.4 – disillusionment and disappointment in new orleans

Over the past five years we have had several tragedies befall citizens of the world. I cannot remember a time in my life where I have spent so many hours sitting in front of my television set in tears.

In 2001, we lost many people in NYC. In 2004 we witnessed devastation and destruction in Southeast Asia. We are witness daily to a war that the majority of us no longer understand the reason for and the loss of life is great.

And now, in 2005, we have seen the total destruction of a beautiful city. The loss of many lives which are still not able to account for. The loss of homes and of a city that was one of the treasures of our country. These tragedies are not the sort that could have been prevented by sheer force but this latest event that has beset the residents of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana could have been planned for and certainly contained.

In 2003, during a review of the National Budget for allocation of funds to cities across the country, the Federal Government thought it worthy to cut the budget of a little city known as “The Big Easy” which was directed toward securing their levees for future natural disasters such as a hurricane. This money was cut (under the guise of “pork spending”) to be re-allocated to something we are all aware of -and a source of many more tears- the war in Iraq. 20 million dollars was all that was needed to be sure that New Orleans would be safe from the type of flooding and devastation that we have witnessed over this past week, but only 3.9 million was allotted.

Now, you may say, “but Hippiegrrl, it isn’t the fault of the government that the levee broke” or “it isn’t the fault of the government that the people didn’t evacate when instructed to”. I am not pointing fingers, but if you truly believe that the government has no roll in what has happened to these poor citizens then consider this – the residents of New Orleans were told to evacuate to the Superdome and Convention Center if they had no where else they could go. Many people did so. They waited out the storm and wondered where the help was. This wondering went on for four long days and nights before help arrived. In this time reports of people falling victim to the elements at a place where they were assured safety took place.

People died. Toilets overflowed. Food and water were nowhere to be found. There was no preparation on the part of our government to help these people. They counted on forces larger than themselves and promises that were given to them that never came to fruition.

Meanwhile, the media shows us pictures of total destruction and devastation in our own country. These pictures we see appear to be somewhere in another world. A third world. But they are not. They are pictures from our own country. Pictures of people suffering. Pictures of people under extreme mental and physical torture.

Some say we shouldn’t point fingers at those in higher offices in this country to say that it is necessarily the fault of the government but what we can do is hope for a leader who is considerate and understanding. Who doesn’t give a canned response to the devastation and who really cares, deep down, for the suffering that is ongoing in this part of our country.

Someone who will show emotion. Someone who will mirror our angst. While we sit in front of our televisions and cry over these tragedies we need a leader who will not go on a vacation or play golf. A leader who will stand up and say “I am a feeling human being who wants to help”. Someone who will replace the phrase “what the people need to know is that we are doing all we can” with a better phrase such as, “we want everyone effected by this horrible tragedy to know that we are coming in with all the help and support we can muster”.

We look to our leaders for hope in times of crisis and that is my criticism of this heartless bastard of a president that we have today.

Nothing can change the fact that we have lived through September 11, 2001 or a senseless war in Iraq or a natural disaster in the south, but having a leader that can comprehend the pain and show emotion would be a big step toward healing the wounds of these events.

The arrogance that was shown during the election is no longer appropriate. Human emotions are something that we all need to see from our leader. Compassion even.

If you can give to the red cross, please do. Any amount will help at this point and we all need to help one another.

The main lesson that should be taken out of this horrible tragedy is that we need to fend for ourselves and help our neighbours. That we need to start helping the poor in honest, real ways. That we need to recognize that we have a huge population in this country that requires our help and that we need to fix ourselves and let others worry about themselves. We need reforms in this country for the poor more than Iraq needs freedom. We need to be prepared for anything to happen because the government is obviously too pre-occupied to keep us safe.

Two things you should do – find out where you would go and make a plan for evacuating your area in case of emergency, not relying on any agency to help you and support just causes like the Red Cross.

Log on to www.redcross.org and give what you can. The people in the south need our help because the people of this nation are the only ones that will save each other.


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