Nunc Scio
Friday, September 02, 2005
  "In the Dark Times, Will There Also be Singing?
Yes, there will also be singing. About the Dark Times."

That quote- courtesy of Bertolt Brecht- is about the most appropriate thing I could come up with this morning. It seems we're in the midst of one of those weeks where the world is ending over and over again. It makes me sad, and it makes me feel very small.

I think we should all recognize that something has gone terribly wrong with the United States. Clearly, Katrina was a huge tradegy, a profoundly terrible human event. But the days after the storm are revealing a very rotten core at the heart of the American enterprise.

Most obvious is the complete ineptness of their elected officials, which is probably true of elected officials everywhere. This kind of stupidity transcends ideology, pro-war or anti-war...fundamentally, the American government is unable to make decisions according to the real needs and interests of their citizens.

But under the administrative problems lie some horrible dislocations which threaten the stability of the nation. Poverty comes immediately to mind, plus its obviously racial referent in the American context. Another social disease appears to be fundamentalist christians. A Little Bit Left is reporting on some absolutely horrendous statements being made by Christian groups in the US. I'll spare you the idiocy of their arguments, but the upshot is that Katrina was God's revenge for abortion and homosexuality. One group went so far as to say the hurricane looked like an unborn fetus in satellite photos. To this I reply: F@#$ you. If that's how your God behaves, you deserve each other.

Finally, I think Katrina shows how America's social contract is in tatters. Things are so rabidly individualistic, so thoroughly divorced from any sense of community, that things immediately descend into chaos in crisis situations. I don't want to proselytize, but I couldn't see something like that happening in Europe, Asia or even- you guessed it- in Canada. Hell, most of Southern Asia was hit way harder by the Tsunami than New Orleans was by Katrina, and this kind of anarchy didn't erupt. I have to think this reaction to adversity has more to do with how a society organizes itself than with the severity of the disaster itself.

My heart goes out to Katrina's victims. And I hope the United States can find its way out some truly dark times...for the good of us all.
 
Comments:
Well said, my friend. Class, social and racial distinctions in the South have been exposed. There is work to be done, indeed, Mr. Bush - let's hope you come to realize, by the grace of God, just what that work really is.
 
Indeed. This event has highlighted not only the administration's incompetence, but also the serious social distortion and divide that exists. They have more to recover from than just the hurricane damage.
 
"I think we should all recognize that something has gone terribly wrong with the United States."

Yes. Some of us are still too shocked to write anything coherent, let alone insightful, as this article was. You make many good observations.
 
I was actually in the Preservation Jazz Hall in the French Quarter in April 1988.

It was a sacred magical moment to be in the birthplace of jazz. It is a tiny two room edifice of silver coloured and aged wooden clapboard, smack within a modern city.

The band was loud with a good looking jazz singer with a bright red tie. I will never forget that bright red tie.

This is one of the oldest, most culturally rich cities in the world, let alone the U.S.

We must preserve New Orleans and respect and protect its people as we would Florence or Paris.

It is easy to donate. Do it. redcross.ca or redcross.org or 1 800 HELP NOW

It would be a shameful act of self centred self indulgence to blog another word without donating to Katrina relief. Help now or close up your lap top.
 
For the next new orleans hurricane ; the easy way to keep going.
 
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Jack of all trades, master of none, Graeme is many things to many people. Unfortunately, none of them find him very life-affirming in any capacity. He is a freelance writer, broadcaster, amateur cryptozoologist and occasional political commentator late of London, England and now based in Toronto. Most of the time, he's confused. And a little hungry. But mostly just confused and somewhat uncomfortable writing in the third person.

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