Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina Leaves Lessons, Questions

How cocky we are. We have million dollar mansions, jets, yachts, beachfront property- the good life. We're in control- that is we're in control until something greater than we are comes and turns the whole world upside down. Take away electricity, air conditioning, fresh water, transportation and shelter and, suddenly, man is stripped of his thin veneer of civilization and the real person is revealed. For those who "trust in riches", losing everything can certainly be disconcerting. Christians, if they are grounded in the teachings of Jesus, understand that we own nothing- we are only stewards. What God gives can be taken away, but what we have or don't have isn't central to the relationship.

Perhaps we need these natural disasters from time to time to knock the secular humanists off their high horse. Man isn't getting better. Man never will on his own. Most of the outpouring of support for the victims of this disaster won't be from your friendly home-town free thinkers societies, but rather from a variety of Christian organizations- most notably, the Salvation Army. There will be a stream of donations and volunteer work crews coming from churches of every denomination in the coming days and weeks. Before some of you who read this fly into an outrage, let me explain that I don't believe charity is the sole province of the Christian or "religious" person. All I am pointing out is that Christianity calls followers to give to those less fortunate, and to do so not out of a sense of guilt or obligation, but because to do so is an extension of the love of God.

Off spirituality and on to politics, what I find appalling in the reporting surrounding the disaster is an underlying assumption that somehow humans are responsible for the scale of the disaster. I've heard outrageous claims that Bush or Haley Barbour is to blame for the hurricane because they "caused" global warming. I wonder who (or what) they blame Camille on? What about the great flood of 1927? What about Andrew? I could go on and on. One has to wonder about whether the intent of the journalists is to present news surrounding the event, or simply use the event as a springboard for more partisan politicking. I think one of the current "screams" is that "Bush voted to decrease funding for New Orleans flood control in the 2006 budget". How interesting- how irrelevant. I guess these folks don't believe that the Republican Congress won't allocate additional funding to deal with the disaster.

Another screaming point is that the government isn't moving fast enough. Stop for a moment and think. How fast do you think you could organize the logistics to move thousands of troops with the necessary equipment to a disaster area with limited access? Right now, officials believe they will have 24,000 troops in the New Orleans area by Monday. That's a massive response to organize and implement within a week. How fast, realistically, can you deal with the problems of a city of 480,000? How quickly can you arrange to deal with a total evacuation of that many people? How do you plan "on the fly" to deal with unanticipated breaches of major levees surrounding the city?

Although it's probably valid to say that there are things that could have been done better, most people would do well to remember that this isn't a board game or a computer simulation. The best laid plans can fall apart when a disaster doesn't unfold according to the scenarios you rehearsed.

I know this may be a foreign concept to some, but how about giving some encouragement to those staying up around the clock to organize disaster relief? Screaming won't do much but distract them from their primary task.