A whole city underwater.
If that doesn't smack of the apocalypse, I don't know what does. And while recent events fill me with a definate sense of foreboding (hurricane first, Four Horsemen on deck), they don't bring me close to the panicky fear I felt when two planes hit the Towers--not least because here, there are no motives to consider. God blew in and out of town; now He's kneeling among the wounded.
Or something along those lines.
I heard a funny something sometime about how Bush doesn't just want to be the 4_th president (I should know this, shouldn't I?), he wants to be the last president, and I'd almost buy it, though I can't see how he could've pulled this one off, short of a deal with the devil. And I'm not ruling that one out, just yet.
But, assuming he isn't tampering with the forces of nature, I can't help but feel a bit (just a bit) sorry for the guy--he's been dealt some doozies on his watch, hasn't he? Though he's stormed in, guns ablazin', right into the midst of others.
Still, I've got a bone to pick with him. Everytime I hear him on NPR, he's jabbering on about how America will be praying for the families displaced, etc, and I think, Doesn't freedom of religion mean freedom of no religion, as well? How rude of him to assume that all Americans will be praying. Maybe some Americans will be out on rescue teams, and others will be donating blood or packing boxes of blankets and canned food--but not praying. Does that mean their efforts aren't any good?
Not to mention that "Americans praying for the strength of their nation" brings to mind green bean casserole and church ladies in floral prints holding hands in a musty basement.
I for one, while an avid pray-er, felt consumed by the urge to do something when I heard the weather forecast predicting the end of New Orleans (the end! How can an entire city be declared "non-functional"? God, that gives me chills), and so I kept my ears peeled for...anything, really. Remember when all that 9/11 business went down, and e-inboxes across the nation were flooded with lists of "10 Things You Can Do For Your Country", practical step-out-the-door-and-do-them items, every one.
Donate money to Red Cross.
Try and drive a little less, to anticipate the impending oil shortage.
Wow. And now that there are no terrorists to rally against, Bush urges us to pray for the safety of our citizens. I repeat, prayer kicks ass, but at times it isn't enough--not when there are honest-to-God American refugees holed up in a SuperDome where the toilets are broken and the food is rot and there is a genuine threat of a cholera or typhoid outbreak. Not when the rest of the forty-nine states are relatively dry, and blessed with pocket change.
I love America. And I love Americans, because I know that there are all these beautiful, shiny people out there, just itching to hop a plane to Louisiana right now and dig through that new Atlantis, looking for lost photo albums and family cats--not to mention children and grandmothers who haven't been heard from in days.
But they can't, because the planes won't land anywhere near that mess, and really, how helpful would that be--more people landing themselves in danger, putting themselves at risk as well?
So what do we do? We, who have beds and blankets and privacy, who can call our families on the phone this second and know, as best we ever can, that they are o.k.? We, who are not stranded and holding onto bank cards rendered suddenly meaningless by the mere fact that our bank is now underwater; we who have jobs to return to, who have bills to pay, who did not see the roof of our house sheared away, opening up our home to the violent winds and the seething, steel gray skies.
What do we do?
We pray for the safety of our nation.
And we donate blood. We gather up all we can, and we send it to Red Cross, or the local food bank, or The Salvation Army. We ride our bikes to work, realizing that oil is scarce and it is growing suddenly scarcer. We know, just as we always knew, that this can happen anywhere--and that, of course, it will. Sri Lanka is far away, but it is still somebody's home. Louisana is not far at all, and it is our home.