Posted by Pattie on 9/03/2005 07:05:00 AM

More Than One Can Bear

I've spent more time than I should this week watching news video about New Orleans and remembering my life there.

I've spent more time than I should this week reading and listening to the debates about whose fault it is and what terrible and/or brave people there is facing all this.

This coverage and these opinions have ranged from the absurd to the compassionate.

None of it is adequate and most of it is amazingly selfish in nature.

Has anyone noticed the extent of posturing among politicians? I was sickened by the ways in which both sides of the aisle have taken photo-ops and patted each other on the back as people died and people faced shortages.

Was anyone else offended by the Army Reserve sponsoring video clips on CNN's website? I don't have a television and have only watched coverage in public places this week, so I'm not sure how often these ads are running on tv, but I found the military using this tradegy and the coverage of this tragedy as an opportunity to recruit appalling. It wouldn't bother me if they called for people to come as reinforcements, but many young people will be lured into the services this week on the basis of humanitarian missions only to be sent to die in other places, compounding, in my mind, the tragedy even further.

The class and racial aspects of all this are so blatant that even some mainstream sources like the Associated Press have noted it. Brett Favre, after noting that his mother's home was still in tact because of its location, proceeded to say that such storms were an equalizer among classes because one couldn't just buy their way out of the effects. Bullshit! Richer people were in homes and locations that survived the storm. Poorer people lost everything and have no hope of rebuilding. One need only look at how long it took for the relief effort to get to those who needed it most to understand how low a priority they were.

Of course, one need also only look at the coverage of people breaking into stores for supplies to see the classism. White tourists scrounged for food while black people "looted" the same stores and the same items. Look, I don't care if they did take tvs or nikes. First, shoes are shoes and many of these people needed clothing and shoes after being days in wet, soggy clothes. Second, bartering is a distinct possibility in such circumstances. Taking what they believed was valuable may have been survival instinct because getting out of town is getting to safety. Having valuable stuff to trade might be a ticket to that safety. In any case, applying ordinary norms in such an extraordinary circumstance is based upon ignorance at best, or most likely malice and prejudice.

I'm tired of the liberals complaining about this coverage with opening statements like "I am not condoning looting, but..." I don't give a damn about looting. Property is meaningless in this kind of situation and for people to care more about that than the fact that people were dying or being left for dead on the streets is indicative of how sick this society really is. Has anyone noticed that 80% of the city is under water? Most of the material things are gone. Do you really believe that the store owners are going to come back and salvage this stuff amid the disease and ruin that is going to be this place in the weeks to come? Why even give a damn about what is taken and what is not? It is all symbolic because it certainly isn't practical.

I keep thinking about the person who jumped to their death in the dome. People say stupid things at times like these, such as "God doesn't give us more than we can bear." I'm here to tell you that life is unbearable at times. If you've never been in that situation where you weren't sure if you'd survive the stress, the pain, the sheer terror, then shut up! You don't know what you are talking about.

People find ways to survive unspeakable pain in this life. Some people don't survive.

I've watched landscapes that I recognize on video and pictures and read about places I've been and lived this week. I have memories of a city where I became an adult, where I learned to live as a grown-up. The city will never be the same.

I am in shock. But I am also afraid that there is more to bear and more to become unbearable. The effect of this city and the Gulf coast falling apart is going to be felt for a long time to come. This is a beginning, not just an ending.

I must admit I despair especially because I've seen no evidence that much is changing in the attitudes and actions of our so-called leaders and our so-called media. This is a big wake up call and most people seem to be content to hit the snooze alarm and roll over.