"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.