Friday, September 02, 2005

The American Spirit May Very Well be Broken

The news out of New Orleans is not good.
"We're just a bunch of rats. That's how they've been treating us."
among thousands awaiting rescue outside the Superdome.

On my AM run, I was very much thankful I didn't live anywhere near the mess Katrina caused, but I do have family living on the Gulf Coast. They said they were still mentally recovering from last season's battering by the whole series of hurricanes. Even so, they were spared the great brunt of the storm. New Orleans is a whole different story.

I was thinking on my run, that Katrina could be the straw (alright, bigger than a straw, but I'm going with the metaphor) that has broken the Spirit of America. The damage is horrific, the death toll ratchets up, and instead of the gallantry and magnanimous nature that has been displayed over various periods of our history, I see mainly tragedy, sorrow, and no relief in sight.

Even more reprehensible, by its actions, the feds seem to be slow, docile and ineffective - mainly distracted from the very real sense by most that the home front should take precedent over some foreign mission that was, and is, misguided and a waste of resources - not to mention a misuse of our military might to inflict our ideology on a part of the world that doesn't want it.

In its wake, Katrina not only kicked our asses, but she seems to have broken the very Spirit of America. Instead of people rising to the occasion, I see death, destruction, and an overwhelming sense of powerlessness that seeps into our very pours. That those who remain tend mainly to be the poorest of the poor, those who had very little to begin with led me to some other big questions, but I leave that for others to contemplate (e.g. If Katrina hit Boca Raton instead, would the response have been as neglectful?).

My hope is that we rise to the occasion and regardless the loss of physical structures, we work to find a place for all survivors who need a place, and that place is not simply a replacement for what was, but an improvement - by their own measure.

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