About 8 days ago, I wrote a piece for SWGAPolitics.com I called ‘A Tale of Two Hurricanes‘.
As I suspected it would, it has drawn a bit of criticism, including most recently from a friend.
So let me explain a bit of my internal thinking and experiences regarding the matter.
First, one of the the traits about myself that I hold in highest regard is my ability to survive ANYthing – even things that many people let destroy them, mostly spiritually/emotionally/mentally, but sometimes even physically. Point blank, I will take on any challenge, and I WILL NOT let it overcome me. I may look defeated from the outside, but I will not give up until I have overcome the situation, if just in my own way. I even take this to the level of occasionally intentionally making a situation far more difficult for myself than it need be – just to prove that I can do it. (For example, walking 10 miles with Austin Scott last month with ZERO preparation – and that was one of the milder and more recent examples.)
Thus, seeing people that appear to be healthy adults standing around at the Superdome in the aftermath of Katrina is absolutely beyond the realm of anything I would ever think to consider for myself. Instead, I would be moving ever forward OUT of the city and area, working my way around or through any obstacle I encountered. If I died, it wouldn’t be sitting in the parking lot of the Superdome waiting on someone else to come to my aid.
But about the experiences that also shaped that post:
The first was during the days after Katrina itself. At that time in 2005, I didn’t have a job, I was still living with my parents. My church got heavily involved in sending aid down to the Gulf Coast, and because of my lack of a job, I did what I could – I volunteered at the drop off point doing whatever needed to get done to get the supplies in, palletized, loaded, and on their way. Because I didn’t own a gun, I wasn’t allowed to go with the people who were actually delivering the supplies, but we had two trailers running back and forth, and as one was completely filled, we had several men from the church grab their guns and Bibles and head straight down, unload, and come straight back. For the first couple of weeks, it got to the point where we would have the second trailer filled by the time they got back, and they would head right back down. In the few minutes they had to talk between loads, they would tell us of the massive destruction they saw – and how the towns were already coming together to work to rebuild. Our guys couldn’t get anywhere near NOLA, but were going instead into the areas of Mississippi that had taken the direct hit from the storm. For those first couple of weeks, most of us slept very little, but we got the job done. We did what we could with what we had to help our fellow Americans as much as we possibly could, and to this day nearly four years later I am still proud of my involvement in that – and even moreso of the men who had the honor of actually going down and helping the people directly.
The second experience I had though was a slap in the face to the first. A few months after Katrina, in January 2006, I finally got a teaching job. This was in Covington, on the outskirts of Atlanta. One of my students in particular was a refugee from Katrina – and she let you know it any time she didn’t come to class prepared or didn’t do her homework or failed a test or slept or talked in class etc etc etc. It drove me crazy then and it drives me crazy thinking about it now. I met her 4 months after Katrina, when she had had so much given to her and done for her, and yet she was STILL trying to blame her own inadequacies on her “victimhood”. When I left that school 6 months later, she was still doing the exact same things as when I had met her – and this was nearly a year after the storm. I have no doubt this student – who I believe would have been voting age last year – voted for Barack Obama, if she voted at all, and I have no doubt it was because he promised ever more government programs for all the “victims” out there.
The final experience was my first trip to NOLA itself, just this past April – 3.5 years after the storm. Tonya and I were taking a Carribbean vacation aboard the Carnival Fantasy, and we were porting out of NOLA. Driving down the highway from Slidell into the port area of NOLA – literally in the shadow of the infamous Crescent City Connector – I was absolutely astounded to see the amount of reconstruction STILL waiting to happen in the area – including one downtown skyscraper in particular that still had DOZENS of windows (at least) with plywood over them.
Going back into the way I think in closing, I genuinely believe that there is not a single situation a human will ever face that cannot be overcome in some way – but the individual has to choose to survive it, and choose to do whatever is necessary to overcome it. Once they make that choice, I spring in to action in whatever way I possibly can to help them – but I cannot help someone until they choose to help themselves. I know there are situations FAR more difficult than any I’ve ever seen, much less any I’ve ever experienced. But I still hold to that belief about the human condition.
If you’re still breathing, there is still hope – no matter what.
Hopelessly optimistic and naive?
I’ve been called worse.