It is still amazing to me that the nightmare of Katrina brought to bear such terrible realizations about America and our "character". I confess that even after all these years of trying to think critically about such matters, and having reality rear its moronic head almost hourly... it must be a sign of illness indeed that I remain even capable of surprise. Why on earth do I keep expecting reality to defy reason, to reveal my projected hopes? My capacity to be surprised tells me my naive perceptions still need to be challenged. Or I need to be hit with a hammer. My attachment to this idea that people can be " sufficiently moved" to act needs a rewrite.
If losing one's spiritual virginity is a process, then this event was part of the foreplay.
And yet I am so consumed with guilt for even thinking about my petty sense of things, my dissappointments.. indeed, how dare I? No, I cannot lay claim to being party to anything other than witness to disgrace, attending the dinner and lingering late to drink with the stragglers of condemnation.
No, I do not know the reality of clutching my baby to my body and knowing life has left her and the world has died before my eyes. I cannot know what it feels like to be stuck and hopeful for help that never comes. What do we, or can we, know of that? I cannot pretend to hold a spot on any victim pile- I know that my victimization comes by vicarious self-centered proxy, only as part of the society that has been , in effect, let down. I am not angry because I was left to die- I am angry because life is valuable, and hesitation and disorganization translated into a death sentence for so many. Do they not talk about a culture of life, the value of every soul, down to the tiny unborn? How does condemnation and abandonment jive with that rhetoric? There were no doubt fetal souls beneath the waters, what say you pigs on that? Death knows not whose hand deals the blow. Life only matters to you when you legislate me.
And so we are left with this ambiguous grief and rage against this hypocritical ENTITY whose role we are not even so clear about, the ambiguous apparatus of some machine we call government. We do not know what we expected. We only know we expected much more than what was done. We expected emergency management. More than that, we expected people to care about the lives of unknown 'others'. Perhaps my jaw-drop response to hypocrisy and cruelty is getting a bit old. What part of "don't give a shit" can I not understand?
There are times in life when we have these horrific aha-style "fuck-with-innocence-type" moments, when we realize the potential for nuclear annihilation for example, and the real context of the term 'hair trigger alert". When we see the famous photo of the famine-stricken infant next to the vulture awaiting his death. ..The moments when we say "How can this be?" over and over. Crazymaking things.
I do say this- understanding that many good people volunteered and worked very hard to help. But perhaps it is just a matter of proportion. Collectively, as a nation that supports the actions of the administration seemingly without question- we revealed ourselves not only as incompetent, but heartless. Those of us that struggle toward optimism, rally for hope, that tend to think more of people than they generally deserve...those among us that have trouble accepting the carelessness and indifference of other people and try to attribute anti-social behaviors to a sad spectrum of causations... take pause.
Their indifference comes without insight and without apology. We look for remorse at the very least, for somebody to at least take responsibility in earnest. Few do. We look to our neighbors, fellow Americans, to share our anger. We find that few do. We look at the groups that struggle against the propaganda mechanations to seek truth, to expose corruption and deception- and we find it falls on ears that will not know or care.
We learn that as we age, we collect these pathetic epiphanies, we learn this is not the first time or the last time. So...
Lets jot down in our minds the remarks about Trent Lott's coastal home (sniff, poor Trent!) and as Molly Ivins reminds us at Truthout : "... that great Houstonian Barbara Bush, said after visiting the Astrodome, those people are better off now because "they were underprivileged anyway."