I wrote my current Weekly Messenger today (September 5). It will soon be available to subscribers through our service on www.reformationrevival.com and then archived on our site. The subject in that piece is divine providence and Hurricane Katrina. As with the tsunami disaster at the end of last year, this natural catastrophe is bringing out both the best and the worst in humankind.
While the media focused upon death, looting and chaos for much of last week, we finally got some great stories of faith, hope and love over the past weekend. I told Anita last night that nothing brings out the light and darkness within the hearts of fallen men and women quite like a tragedy. People of faith rise to these occasions, displaying incredible sacrifice and commitment to others. Self-centered folks, the kind who say "you owe more to me than I am getting," will loot and destroy. (This is really a very small portion of the people suffering in this present tragedy.) The media loves to play this second response, which includes a great deal of race in it. I have no doubt that this storm reveals racism in the society of New Orleans. But how is it that race is the issue here? The larger social issue might be poverty, which does have a racial component for sure, but the storm knows no color boundary. Both white and black people chose to "ride out" this storm and remained in their homes. Death was an equal opportunity destroyer in any event.
What offended me most during the past week was the blatant politicizing which went on day after day. We seem determined, as a highly litigious people, to blame someone for almost everything that happens. I do not doubt that there are real issues, about response and management, that need to be seriously discussed in the aftermath of Katrina, just as there were in the aftermath of 9-11. But before the waters even subsided, and the relief teams were on site helping, some were working the various angles of this story to blame FEMA, the military and our presence in Iraq (which supposedly hinders the effort in New Orleans though only 10% of our military force is in Iraq), George W. Bush, the several governors in the states impacted, the various mayors of cities, and white people in the South in general. Besides the fact that this solves absolutely nothing right now it makes politics the constant dirty business of looking first at how we can make points for our team in a tragedy. We seem to have perfected this response in America. It is a sad commentary on how low we can go in the midst of hard times when what we really need to do is pull together, not pull apart by blaming. There will be a proper time for discussing issues related to how the response of the govrnment may have failed but why did it come within 48 hours of the tragedy? We don’t even know enough yet to be sure about much that happened, except that multitudes died, are dying, and now live in pain. The first response, of responsible journalists in particular, and ordinary people in general, should be to help respond to the suffering as quickly and humanely as possible. I did something for the relief effort yesterday. (I am sure that millions did a lot more to help than I did.) I can do more. By God’s grace I will.