Monday, September 12, 2005


What I Learned From Katrina

If I've learned anything in the Katrina aftermath, it's this:

As you long-time readers here at Truespeak know, I have a rabidly conservative relative that I spent a good portion of the past year debating. While frustrating, it was at least educational to understand the workings of the Republican mind. Scary, but educational.

Over and over again I was told that the problem with liberals is that we rely on the government for help. According to the conservative view, the government can not help anyone. A person's success and ultimate lot in life can only be determined by themselves. While there is a grain of truth to the notion that we each control our own destiny, it's much more complex than this. Of course, Republicans like to see things in black and white terms. With them it's all right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, up vs. down. However, I have seen very few things in life that are all black and white. There are almost always shades of gray. But for Republicans, gray is bad. Gray means indecision. Gray can be confusing. One could make the case that Democrats spend too much time focusing on the gray areas of things, but I believe that it's the gray areas were the truth can be found.

Now let's take a look at Katrina and its aftermath. For the first three days, the people of New Orleans were left to themselves. According to the Republican M.O., this is the way it should be. They like to call it "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps." But what happened during those first three days? Death, starvation, lawlessness, chaos. Since the government has stepped in, the situation is now improving. Funny how that happens.

Now I'm not advocating the government's intervention into all aspects of our lives, but there is a point in almost everyone's life when they need a helping hand and it's the duty of our government to be there for them. It's not a handout. It's not charity. It's compassion. As it says at the top of this page, the first duty of government is to protect the powerless from the powerful. It's a matter of looking out for the least of us. Ironically, it's a Christian principle. The Republican's approach of every man for himself leaves the weak and powerless vulnerable. This is not the way of America. This was not the intention of our forefathers.

If we can't look out for those among us who need our help, we are truly a heartless nation. To help a person in need is noble. To turn your back and ignore the problem while blaming the victim is shameful. Shame on them.

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