Friday, September 02, 2005

What does the situation in New Orleans say about America?

The world is "stunned" at our struggle to cope with the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina. Some have even gone so far as say that the victims' reactions themselves are indicative of the failure of our culture:
"I am absolutely disgusted. After the tsunami our people, even the ones who lost everything, wanted to help the others who were suffering," said Sajeewa Chinthaka, 36, as he watched a cricket match in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

"Not a single tourist caught in the tsunami was mugged. Now with all this happening in the U.S. we can easily see where the civilized part of the world's population is."
I wonder if they're right, though. Would the rest of the world have reacted any better if put in similar circumstances? Somehow I doubt it.

As we do examine what this situation says about our culture, the fact is, as we look at those who so desperately are needing help, there is no escaping that race has become a subtext to the unfolding drama of the hurricane's aftermath.
While hundreds of thousands of people have been dislocated by Hurricane Katrina, the images that have filled the television screens have been mainly of black Americans -- grieving, suffering, in some cases looting and desperately trying to leave New Orleans.

"To me," said Bernadette Washington, "it just seems like black people are marked. We have so many troubles and problems."
While race or their socioeconomic class shouldn't affect how we react to a victim, sadly for some it does.
At that moment, a lady -- white -- came by...and handed her some baby items.

"Bless you," Washington said.

That exchange forced something from Warren Carter: "White man came up to me little while ago and offered me some money. I said thank you, but no thanks. I got money to hold us over. But it does go to show you that racism ain't everywhere."

This isn't the time to analyze why those who are victims are victims, but after the fact, I'm sure it will be a source of much discussion.

Truly, though, underlying all of this is the bottom line. More important than peoples' physical needs are their spiritual ones, and these people seemed to be aware of that:

"It says there'll come a time you can't hide. I'm talking about people. From each other," Bernadette Washington said.

Thomas, the philosopher, waved his bandaged hand. He had a theory: "God's angry with New Orleans. It's an evil city. The worst school system anywhere. Rampant crime. Corrupt politicians. Here, baby, have a potato chip for daddy."

The 2-year-old, Qadriyyah, took a chip from her daddy and gobbled it up. Her face was covered with mosquito bites. But she smiled just to be in daddy's arms.

Thomas continued: "A predominantly black city -- and they're killing each other. God had to get their attention with a calamity. New Orleans ain't seen an earthquake yet. You can get away from a hurricane but not an earthquake. Next time, nobody may get out."

May God's goodness shine on in the midst of this struggle. Our prayers go out to this and all the families facing much today.

1 comment:

Greg said...

May God's goodness shine on in the midst of this struggle. Our prayers go out to this and all the families facing much today.

Amen.