There’s an eery silence in parts of the blogosphere these days. Many of the sites I visit regularly seemed dumbfounded – at a complete loss for words. This site is no different. We just don’t know what to say. I start sentences, but they dangle in the air unfinished. I have started several posts in my mind, but none of them seem adequate. Some people, like me, are writing faltering attempts to try to wrap words around this terrible, terrible tragedy. I appreciate their attempts – they’re helping me process it too.
What do we say when we see hundreds of people who fought to survive an angry brutal storm, now dying because help has not come soon enough? What do we say when we see images of people stranded on rooftops, waving tattered rags, hoping someone will choose to rescue them instead of the people on the next rooftop? What do we say about the looting, the murders, the rapes? How do we respond to the poor and destitute that could not leave their homes and now must lay their heads on cots in a stadium meant for football games and not lodging?
I have no idea what to say. In my mind I say so many things. That it’s a shame they weren’t more prepared. That it’s pitiful that it took so long for the rescuers to come. That this kind of thing shouldn’t happen in the world’s richest country. I ask the same questions everyone else is asking. Could it have been avoided if they’d spent the money on the levees instead of waging war on Iraq? Did it take them longer to bring in aid because the people are predominately black? Would it be any different if the storm hit our city? Would I have the guts to open my home to some of the thousands of people left without homes and without jobs?
Today I saw 2 pictures of the inside of the Astrodome. One was of a young mother with a thirteen day old baby – she was talking on a cell phone trying to put the pieces of her life back together in some semblance of normalcy. Another was a picture of rows and rows of cots covering the floor of the stadium. In the centre of the picture, barely visible, were 2 small children, not unlike my own children except for the colour of their skin. They sat perched on those harsh-looking cots, staring at the camera with expressionless faces. I don’t know what their life was like before Katrina came to visit, but now it consists of no more than a few feet of space in the centre of thousands of other scared and lonely people.
My children are safe in bed tonight. They are not sitting perched on a cot in the middle of a stadium. They each have their own beds with their own special blankets that their Grandma made for them. Is that fair? No, I can’t find any kind of fairness in that. I don’t know why my daughters are here and someone else’s are there. I don’t know why I still have a house and a bed and a job and a city to live in. I don’t understand any of this.
Some people are chosing to pray their way through this, others are railing against a God they can’t respect or trust in the middle of such tragedy. I’ve done some of both. I’m also trying to find a way to contribute. No, I haven’t made a donation to the Red Cross. Perhaps I should, but what I’m chosing to do instead is to help some of the poor people in my own city. Because I know that if a hurricane or ice storm or flood hit us, there would be lots of people here who wouldn’t be able to get out in time either. My contribution probably won’t help them buy a car to escape if tragedy hits, but perhaps it will at least help someone pay the rent this month, so that they still have a place to shelter their child.
And in the end, all I can say is…God help us.