Friday, September 02, 2005

In for the LONG HAUL

Here we are - Thursday Sept 1, 2005 .. just now 4 days into the aftermath of hurricane Katrina ... and we are seeing the signs of our fragile social fabric - tearing under the stress. These were the same words used last night on the CBS Evening News - when veteran reporter, Harry Smith - stationed in Gulfport, MS - gave the wrap-up on his report for the day.

FOUR DAYS!! Only 4 days. Let's picture this. Yes, it's a very short time in considering the rebuild scale that will be needed. But on the human level .. that means - for those who do NOT have food - even if healthy - it's 1/5 of the way to starvation. For those without water .. it's already half-way to dying of thirst! So .. it's a far more dangerous number than we first imagine. And that is the ONLY perspective that it should be viewed from. People are dying in the streets of New Orleans and the devasted regions not yet even seen by anyone but those who are suffering in seemingly their own lone positions. This is a human tragedy... not an economc one. That will come later.

Remember NONE of this takes into consideration the likelyhood of disease from the decaying corspes littering the area; the fetid waters filled with chemicals, fecal matter, and decay. The animals that will either be dying - are dead - or who will begin feeding on both the dead, dying and living. This is a very grim condition. And we do NOT have time to play 'government games'. If people are to be rescued and given a chance at survival there is no place for buracracy. But we all know it will happen - it is happening - and it will continue to happen.

So the big question we need to address is " IF we are seeing this kind of meltdown now .. What are we going to be seeing/doing at 4-Weeks .. 4-Months ... 4-YEARS !! ???

Yes - there are hundreds of acts of heroism, selfless service to those in dire need, and the most needed 'acts of kindness' - that go unreported. But all of us have -at one time or another- been in need. We've been on the receiving end of the kindness of friends, relatives and neighbors. And we've also seen 'them disappear' as the days - weeks and yes, years - drug on.

A care-giver - no matter at what level - or at what task, must be IN IT for the LONG HAUL. Once a person is in the need of 'care' - true, honest, life-sustaining care ... they need help and a helping hand then - and will need it for some time to come. Also, many will need that help a lot longer than others. Then there are those who will take advantage of the kindess - and 'bleed' the care-giver to death - if left unchecked.

Unfortunately we have and we will continue to see this dispicable behavior: it's all part of the human canvas we call life. It's not pretty - but it's still there. And unless we are ALL in the effort for the LONG HAUL - we will only look at the ingreats, the despicable and the seemingly 'down the rathole' efforts poured forth. And NOT ONE of us can afford to walk that path. Because IF we do - we will ALL LOOSE.

So ... from the 'get go' .. let's all realize this is a NATIONAL DISASTER - of scale that only Hollywood could show us. It is not apocolyptic ... but it is of the size and scope that will leave this country changed forever. It is NOT just a local problem. I do not live on the Gulf Coast - for a very specific reason - I personally know the damage nature's fury can inflict and I do NOT want to be the recipient of that onslaught. Therefore I chose not to live there.

HOWEVER ... the misery and the pain being felt there at this very moment IS MY PROBLEM, TOO. And I'm not talking about the price increase at the gas pump. I'm talking about the suffering of the people who have survived this natural disaster is MY SUFFERING, too.

Those affected,are PEOPLE I personally know. They are parents, grandparents, wives, husbands, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters .. all elements of the human family. They are citizens of the United States - but more importantly - they are ALL citizens of the Human Race! They are all my fellow human beings. I cannot - therefore - with a clear conscience .. because I do have one .. just toss my $5 or $500 into the Red Cross cauffers and say, "There, I've done my part." and let it be at that.


The problems - and make no mistake about it - these are EXTREMELY serious PROBLEMS! - are not going to be fixed in a month - or even in a year. It will take years ... even our President had to come that conclusion - and probably to the horror of his policy advisors - said so on national TV yesterday at a press conference. It will be Y E A R S before the stretch of the Gulf Coast blasted, by Katrina, will be viable. And, too, we have to remember that there are hundereds - if not thousands - of square miles of devastation that has not yet been shown.

So - as individuals - and as a collective nation - when we reach our hands out to those in need - had better be ready to maintain that position for many months to come.

If you don't understand WHY we need to do this .. then I am truly sorry for you. Your upbringing was sorely shortchanged! In case you still don't know WHY .. well, it's nothing complicated .. it's just the right thing to do. Nothing more gand than that ... and yet knowing that and acting upon it is the most powerful force in humanity. Let's hope and pray we never loose sight of it.

And yes .. this IS what the Outdoor Heritage is all about. It's about knowing our roll in the scheme of life. One of those rolls is that we cannot take the position of 'Sole Survivor' .. for if we do, we may well find ourselves the 'Sole Survivor' and that would - in true REALITY - not be a place to aspire to.

Just to give both sides of the coin a good look ... there's a 'selfish' reason one could take for helping out: One never knows when he or she will be on the needy-side looking up for help. There is an old, old saying that is every bit as viable today as it was the first time it was uttered - whenever that was : "What goes around, comes around." Let's not ever forget this either.

These are hard words. Hard questions. And these are much harder times. As much money as is poured into the preparations for disasters - why was there not put into place - ready to move in a moments notice - from a major military base well out of the reach of the hurricane's path - that could be brought to bare on the immediate needs within hours of assessment. We may not have seen the pictures of the devastation on TV for hours or until the next day -but there were helicopters and airplanes who DID see it and could have started the immediate responders in-motion THEN: not 4-days later.

What are we going to do WHEN - we get hit with another big one like this - say into Miami - and then hours or days later an earthquake hits LA or SanFran or Seattle? No, we sure don't want to think about that do we? Well - the REALITY is this - nature doesn't care whether we want to think about - it's just doing it's thing: day-in-and-day-out. And IF the earth mantle makes a sudden movement that results in an 8.0 in the LA basin, just hours after a hurricane Cat 4 takes on Miami and all surrounding counties - hey, that's tough. You all know the saying, "Shit happens." The only question that is viable is - 'How well can you dance to the music?" In other words - are we - as individuals - prepared to fend for ourselves AND our neighbors?

If nothing else has been shown by this calamity is has been this: "We are not a cohesive unit of people - at the ground level - when we need to be." There are pockets of those who DO function well - with anyone around them - as best they can - but this quality of character is becoming a rare commodity in our soceity. IF we do not recognize this and take immediate steps to correct it - then we are digging a hole and setting in it - waiting for when the 'dikes' will break and swamp us. Then it will be too, late.

I am not being negative. Never confuse the courage to face the facts of reality for negativism. My comments here are made in the hope that we see where we need to make changes. Changes that will prevent the exacerbation of pain, misery and death in the face of huge natural calamities that we as humans have absolutely no control over. But we do have control over US - and how we deal, individualy and collectively with the 'morning after'.

There are answers - we, as a the human-community- just need to grasp hold of those answers and put them back into force in our society ... and we must do it NOW.

God speed to all who are providing the services needed and let's all be sure we are NOT doing anything to jeapordize or hinder that one bit.



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