[saymaListserv] Fw: NYTimes.com: The Storm After the Storm

Julia Ewen jewen at bellsouth.net
Fri Sep 2 12:52:55 JEST 2005

E-Mail ThisPlease take time to read this very thoughtful perspective on the Gulf Coast/New Orleans tragedy. 
Just before I received this a related thought had occurred to me:

We are seeing what we are seeing in New Orleans in terms of lawless violence and looting because "normal" society
has largely abandoned it prior to the storm hitting. I don't mean that New Orleans or the people suddenly turned into something they were not. The people , irrespective of color or monetary class, who are engaging in the violence were obscured from our daily perception by the daily ordinary life of working people and middle class people going about taking care of business, family and community. When those people left, we got to see what those "outside" are aware of all the time: that underneath our great American Dream-come-true, there is always this dark underside. 

My awareness was triggered by the news that signficant numbers (20-40 percent) of New Orleans police had deserted as of Wednesday, taking off their uniforms and melting into the general population, presumably taking their arms with them. The N O police department is notorious for officers playing both sides of the street, taking pay or even taking part with criminals in illegal enterprises. What happened yesterday was that the "protective cover" had vanished, and I saw what I was never meant to see and frankly do not want to see.

 Lest we have the illusion that OUR city would be different, let us not kid ourselves. I am keenly aware that my pacifist witness is very easy among others of like mind and like means to exercise it. I am asking myself, how would my faith and principles stand up when isolated in such a "society" as was left behind in New Orleans. It also makes me think about how painful it would be if my entire country were in this state--for that is what war does to some countries--particularly small ones. This kind of devastation prevails and nobody has the means to relieve each other, even where the loving intention to do so remains alive...It is more than I can bear to look at  New Orleans, so like my own home, suffering so. I have to turn away from the news after 10 minutes or so. I need to acquire some humility in how I express a witness to people involved in disasters, natural or caused by human conflict. 

It is daunting to consider that at this moment the good news is that people in New Orleans are doing their best, and the bad news is that people in New Orleans are doing their best. And that this might be as good as it ever gets in a certain lightless strata in all our cities...There was a sign displayed in New Orleans just before the storm hit, saying "Pray for New Orleans". I did and am doing so. I now realise that in praying for New Orleans, we pray for ourselves. New Orleans has shown us what we need to see about our own communities, and do not or will not.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: jewen at micronetsystems.net 
To: jewen at micronetsystems.net 
Sent: Friday, September 02, 2005 12:24 PM
Subject: NYTimes.com: The Storm After the Storm

            This page was sent to you by:  jewen at micronetsystems.net 

            OPINION   | September 1, 2005 
            Op-Ed Columnist:  The Storm After the Storm 
            By DAVID BROOKS 
            Floods wash away the surface of society and expose the underlying power structures and injustices. 
                  1. Editorial: Waiting for a Leader 
                  2. Op-Ed Columnist: A Can't-Do Government 
                  3. Op-Ed Columnist: The Storm After the Storm 
                  4. Basics: How to Make Phone Calls Without a Telephone 
                  5. The Victims: From Margins of Society to Center of the Tragedy 

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