Monday, August 28, 2006

A Storm's Revelation

To much of the country, the flourescent pinwheel that's slowly looping its way up the weatherman's map represents a disturbance of the tropical variety, a threat that limits its victims to those who are foolish enough to live in an endless summer and think there won't be a price to pay.

As for those of us cowering in Ernesto's so-called Cone of Uncertainty, every glowing, glowering monster makes our stomachs knot up. Have we bought enough batteries? Where will we take the cats this time? Will school be closed, and if so, how will we get any work done whatsoever?

But these are just my own everyday ramblings and worries. I can't imagine--or even let myself imagine--some of the quandaries faced by people in New Orleans last year, as Hurricane Katrina bore down on the region and gave rise (and rise and rise) to the lethal floodwaters, marking the fall (and fall and fall) of the Emperor Bush. Escape a flooded building and go looking for help, knowing there might not be anything or anyone left when you return, or stay and try to carry the older and weaker residents out yourself, knowing that in so doing, you might all drown?

Accept the only seat left on the last bus out, knowing that in so doing, you will have abandoned your dog and will likely never see him again? Or defy orders and stay home with your beloved pet, facing floods, disease, starvation, and, quite likely, violence?

Everything about Hurricane Katrina was in a league of its own.

People are fond of saying America lost her innocence on September 11, 2001. But I believe she was truly awakened to reality on August 28, 2005, and during the days that followed.

And it is my deepest hope that she never forgets that day. Because this time last year, a government that many had hoped to shrink to such diminuitiveness as to facilitate "drowning it in a bathtub" was itself party to a drowning--a real one. That was, and is, the reality of our current administration: no government = no governing.

We were not governed.

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