need me, some English guy, to tell you that Hurricane Katrina was
a terrible natural catastrophe. The news pictures illustrate that
better than any of us could in words alone. To see pictures beamed
from America that looked more like they were coming from a third
world country was as sobering as it was shocking. The death toll
could be in the thousands, but right now no one knows, and in truth
that issue is still not the priority. Six days after nature once
again illustrated its frightening power to us, the main concern
is still to simply find and evacuate those affected by this most
devastating of devastating storms.
Just as in the aftermath of the tsunami that rocked South East
Asia and India last December, the world stepped up to help its
stricken neighbor. The only difference this time is that the neighbor
in need was one whom most of us probably wouldn't have imagined
would ever need this kind of help. But when someone's house is
on fire you don't stop to ask how the fire started, do you.
A long list of countries rallied to offer financial aid and resources.
France were among first and most generous, setting aside the whole
'freedom fries' debacle. And from the other side of the world,
two of the hardest hit countries by last years tsunami, Indonesia
and Sri Lanka, also came forward with offers to help their Goliathan
neighbor who they, momentarily at least, now have something in
Of course most of the world could only stand by and witness the
horror unfold as the hurricane swept away the homes of a million
people. Aside from giving money to the Red Cross or other such
charities on the scene, there seems little anyone can do but watch.
We feel compassion of course, and maybe even a little guilty for
feeling thankful that it wasn't us, but somewhere in there we're
reminded of just how fragile we really are, that in an instant
our lives can so dramatically change and that we are essentially
powerless to do anything about it.
the days passed by and the world watched the
people trapped in New Orleans with no power and little food or
water, questions were bound to be asked. These questions, at least
to begin with, weren't motivated by anything other than a genuine
compassion for our fellow man. Where is the help? Why is it not
arriving faster? Who is in charge? and how on earth in the richest
most well equipped country in the world has it taken so long for
anything to be done?
Some are calling these questions 'the blame game' as if playing
games was on anyone's mind in these hours. But from where I am,
on the outside looking in, I don't think it's at all unreasonable
or unexpected that people are asking questions about the lack of
adequate response, especially when you have people like the President
himself saying it was too slow to arrive. It doesn't seem unreasonable
for Americans to feel like this terrible event could have been
handled far better than it was. In the wake of 9/11 President Bush
set up the Department of Homeland Security, and along with FEMA
surely you would have thought they would have a plan to deal with
disasters like this. Fair enough this wasn't an attack on America
so we're not expecting Bush to call for a 'War on Hurricanes',
but what if it had been an attack?
It's surely not a waste of time asking these questions, especially
if you're a tax-paying American. People asked the same kind of
questions in the wake of 9/11 but back then there was at least
an enemy to focus anger upon. I suppose, maybe because there is
no enemy in this case, the questions might feel to some like attacks
from within. Clearly some people feel it's too soon to canalize
the preliminary rescue efforts, but when exactly would it be the
My point is that questions have a place here and now, and yes
when it's still going on, and yes when it's still raw, and yes
when the body count has not yet begun. We surely owe it to those
affected, those who have lost loved ones, those who have lost everything,
and even those who have died. Questions need to be asked so that
answers may be found, lessons can be learned, and maybe in the
future lives can be saved.
not interested in the trivial details of whether or not George
W. Bush was on vacation or whether he was just running the country
from his ranch in Texas, we can bicker over those things later.
But for now, as the rescue workers do their job on the ground,
we need to make sure that they've got what they need to get the
job done, while at the same time we begin to learn what we can
from this terrible tragedy so that should such a thing happen again
we may be a little better prepared.