Friday, September 09, 2005

Working With Katrina's Displaced Citizens

I have been busy the last few days working long hours. I got about 3.5 hours sleep last night after driving 70 plus miles home from work, thinking I was going to be needed early this morning to work at our local military base which is home now to over 1400 "displaced citizens" from New Orleans. After receiving a call that I would be needed this afternoon to give vaccinations (inflicting pain is not a job I enjoy) to our guests here instead of a working a morning session, I find myself with a couple hours time to write and do laundry.

A few thoughts on the blame game...

I see that over the last week the victims of Katrina have been referred to in many ways. Refugees, evacuees, victims, and homeless have been used by the media to describe our guests here in Oklahoma and those sheltered in Texas and other states. There are also less flattering names being associated with our fellow American citizens, who have been displaced by this hurricane called Katrina. I find it disheartening that politics intertwined with finger-pointing has been at the root of many of the desultory descriptions being bantered about to describe those that survived and sadly those that didn't survive Katrina. Especially disgusting to me is the "race card issue" that is being used as a core element in the blame game that is going on. No one chooses the color of their skin and the color of our blood is the same. Socio-economic standards aside, people died and suffered in the path of Katrina. That is the bottom line. They are our fellow American citizens and they have been displaced due to the devastation there. The places that were home to them are inhabitable. It doesn't matter one bit how wealthy they were, what their political leanings are or what color their skin is. What does matter is that these are our fellow Americans and they need our help. They have weathered a storm that wreaked death and destruction. They do not need to weather a political storm in addition to what they have already been through. Our country does not need this either.

Who's to blame for what happened? That is the question of the day. Which is a really stupid one, if you ask me. It doesn't matter now, what is done is done. It doesn't matter where you live in the world there are elements beyond man's control that kills. Tsunami's, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados and blizzards are beyond our control. By being born, we all eventually will die. The hows and whens of it are not normally within our control. We can take as many measures as possible to protect ourselves from the inevitable, but the race begins at birth as to when it will end. Some live healthier, some live wiser, some are blessed with the right genes, some are lucky, and for each of those some are not. One might as well blame their parents for ever having them, instead of trying to find someone to blame for what happens to them in the course of their life.

Using the deaths and misfortune of others to play the blame game in this instance is totally unfair to local, state, and federal entities. In the pictures coming out of the south we see homes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars nestled up to a dike, as well as rows of houses which for all intents and purposes could be called shanties sitting along levees. Individual choices led those people to live where they did, don't try to convince me that none of them regardless of their economic status couldn't have walked away (literally, if necessary) to a safer place to live. They made choices which weren't as wise as those, for instance, who choose to live inland. That doesn't mean that those living inland are immune to a natural disaster because they aren't. Tornadoes, floods, fires, and earthquakes still occur. Nobody is to blame for the choices we make and the chances we take in life. Living in a flood zone is asking to be washed away, as those like me living in tornado alley are asking to be blown away. Some chances are weighed in your favor, some are not. The government whether it was local, state or federal did not force these people to live where they did. They chose that. Does that mean we shouldn't help them because of their choices? Absolutely not. It could happen to anyone of us, at any time.

Please help, as you can, our fellow Americans. Remember - someday it could be you that needs someone else's assistance.

posted by Is It Just Me? at 7:07 AM