Monday, September 05, 2005

What to Say?

Contrary to what recent postings on this blog might suggest, I am not, like Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, unaware of the dire situation in New Orleans. I’ve been reading, listening, and watching in horror at what has been happening in New Orleans and the other areas destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
  • Corpses piling up in the streets
  • People begging for food and water
  • Raw sewage
  • Talk of dysentery, cholera, and typhoid
  • Naked desperation
  • Lawlessness
  • Refugees
  • A president who doesn’t give a shit about poor people

How quickly a part of the U.S. came to resemble the Third World.

Truly shocking.

I just don’t know how to write about it. I’m no bloody good at sophisticated political analysis or astute social commentary. When something like this happens, my response is unfocused and purely emotional:

Fury (because people who didn’t have the wherewithal to leave New Orleans ended up with an express ticket to Hell)
Outrage (that Bush didn’t get off his vacationing duff and [for a change] exercise his executive powers for good instead of evil)
Indignation (that Michael Brown, head of FEMA, got appointed to his job because he’s a Bush crony. He’s not even remotely qualified for the job. But, hey, according to Bush, “Brownie” is doing a “heck of job.”)
Disgust (at middle-class and upper-class Americans who are whining about gas prices)
Shame (that catastrophes like this happen in other parts of the world all the time and most Americans [myself included] hardly give them a thought)
Guilt (that we’re leaving on vacation on Tuesday )
Grief (over the deaths and misery that could have been prevented)
Anxiety (because the hurricane season isn’t even close to being over)
Fear (that terrorists will see this as a golden opportunity to strike again)
Worry (because a majority of Americans [myself included] have no “emergency plan.” B and I don’t even have a decent flashlight. How daft and naive is that?)
Thankfulness (that I am safe and healthy, have a roof over my head and a working toilet and that I know where all my family and friends are)

Anyway, a totally incomplete and inadequate response and one that does little more than echo the feelings of helplessness and outrage of countless other people—Rush Limbaugh excepted (as Julie points out).


Anyway, as mentioned above, B and I are going on vacation, as planned. I do feel guilty about that. Like maybe I should just donate* the vacation money to the relief effort. But, sadly, I’m not that selfess. I’ve been feeling extremely burned out about my current work project (be thankful that my personal blogging manifesto specifies that I am not to rant about work on my blog). And part of me is feeling notably pessimistic about the state of the world and the direction it’s headed in—and is telling me to take a vacation while I still can.

So we’re off to eastern Oregon on Tuesday for a healthy dose of hiking and (hopefully) a modicum of mental distraction. If it turns out that eastern Oregon has Internet cafes and—who knows—it just might, I’ll do a couple of remote posts from Hell’s Canyon or some similarly exotic-sounding place. It’s always been a regret of mine that I haven’t documented my vacations better, so here’s my chance to redeem myself. Back on the 18th.

*If you haven't made a donation yet and you would like to, consider the McCormick Tribune Foundation Hurricane Katrina Relief Campaign. It will match 50 cents for every dollar you donate and it's paying all the administrative costs. I made a donation a few days ago, and even though they'd already raised the amount they said they would match, they are still matching donations. Thanks to Crystal for the link.


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