Thursday, November 24, 2005

Read This, And Understand Why We Are Getting Restless

"We want to see them helping themselves before they ask us for help."

A Republican congressional aide (unnamed) said this to Time magazine in an interview for their recent November 28 cover story on New Orleans.

I'm going to type that sentence again because I need to see it again, and I need everyone to contemplate these words.

"We want to see them helping themselves before they ask us for help."

I'll try to stay calm, but it's not easy.

1. It is quite evident that we New Orleanians and Gulf Coasters want to "help ourselves." Come here and look around--middle-age women pulling out sheetrock, septagenarian men with industrial-strength filter masks on. Yesterday I had six children in my house (my own plus two others) so that a friend could gut his first floor. What he needed more than anything was a place of respite for his kids while he took care of business. It is insulting to assume that we are doing anything but helping ourselves.

2. Why is there a chronological, sequential fixation in this Republican aide's (and many others') mindsets? Why is the thinking, "First, that will happen, THEN this will happen"? Why can't we get our due AS AMERICANS even as we help ourselves? Can't we have more than one level of work going on at once?

By the way, I am of course grateful for the extensive publicly-financed cleanup that is still going on. To move forward in a lasting sense, however, we need public (e.g. governmental) backing for creative, hardworking folks to find a way to fix an ecosystem that humanity broke and that now is wreaking havoc on us on the Gulf Coast. Mark my words: New Orleans's plight is a straw in the wind for the rest of the country. What you see here is coming soon to a theater near you.

3. Did you hear anything like these cynical Republican words coming out of the mouths of folks after 9/11 or the Northridge earthquake or even the Tsunami of 2004?

My breathing is becoming short. I have to stop.

By the way, Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for the hardworking spirit of the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. This year I pray for patience and tenacity for all of us.

(Image above from Chris Granger of

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