Watching the news in the last few days following the disaster in Katrina’s wake has provided lots of opportunity to remember what we take for granted in modern society. Many of the images of anarchy and unattended suffering recalled my (probably flawed) memory of Mad Max movies. Imagining oneself in such a situation of lawlessness and in many cases, hopelessness, here in North America certainly gives pause. A huge pause. Many things have clearly gone very wrong. Safeguards that were taken for granted do not appear to be there. Even if you accept that most people were surprised by the destructive force of the hurricane and the lack of preparedness it does not quite explain a government response that just does not seem to measure up to the scale or urgency of the situation.
In my cynicism I wonder how the Bush Administration is plotting to spin this one, but this will be too close to home and the issues far too obvious to explain away. One thing is for sure…It won’t do a darn bit of good to launch a “war on mother nature” or should I say: “the global struggle against the elements of nature” although one may argue that has been going on for some time. America has no alternative this time but to look within.
The Race to Save the Poor
There is a lot of discussion currently as to whether race is a factor in the obviously slow response to the disaster. I am not sure it is that simple. What is clear is that those who were left behind are the poor without either the means to join the evacuation or the social connections to aid them. Race is correlated with social status, and I suspect that part of the enormity of this disaster is related to the seemingly enormous number of people in the USA who are very poor. I suppose its only fair to admit that I am a Canadian with “socialist” leanings and leave this discussion to the social scientists but it does seem to highlight how a society can be less cohesive when there are so many who are effectively disenfranchised. Perhaps social programs will be re-prioritize as a result of the ensuing debate.
Wake Up Call – Time for Changes?
One thing is certain: there will be more incredible stories, many horrific and some heartwarming. I can only hope that the US government adopts a forward thinking strategy in response to this crisis, taking it as seriously as the post 911 response – the investment will be MUCH better placed and will pay itself back for generations.