Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Damn again

I can't 'blog anything other than Katrina right now.  Sure, I have vague inclinations of talking about my custom-ordered jeans; or my cat peeing on my comforter (the discovery of which prompted me to say, for the first time in my life, "Oh you did not just"); or even the fact that I just used the word "blog" as a verb with a direct object -- but they all pale in comparison.

I mean, in my last entry, I was all concerned about the Potential Worst Case Scenario.  And when I woke up the next morning and learned that the levees had held and the death toll was in double-digits, I was relieved that it was nowhere near as bad as I'd feared, and I even felt a little silly for getting all worked up over it.

And then today -- the levee broke, 80% of New Orleans is underwater, the whole city is uninhabitable, there's no drinking water, there won't be power for at least a month, there's no communications, and everyone is so busy rescuing people from their rooftops they just have to leave the dead bodies where they find them. 

I like to think of myself as a person who is moved by tragedy wherever it occurs -- that when there's loss of life on the other side of the planet, it is just as devastating as loss of life here.  And I do believe that.  I even thought the Mississippi politician who called Katrina "our tsunami" was laying it on a bit thick, as the loss of life here was nowhere near as catastrophic as the loss in the tsunami. 

And yet, I can't get past the fact that this is the first time in my lifetime that I've ever had to get my brain around the destruction of an entire American city

I've never been to New Orleans.  I've always wanted to see it, and I even toyed with going a few years ago.  And it's gone now.  Thank God so many people got out in time and we're mostly talking about a loss of property.  But it's a whole city.  I'm speechless.

Does anyone else remember that TV movie in the early '80s called "Special Bulletin"?  It was a "War of the Worlds" style thing ... fiction presented as though it were real news reports ... about terrorists who threaten to detonate a nuclear bomb inCharleston.  I've been thinking about that today.  In the movie, they do, in fact, detonate the bomb, rendering Charleston uninhabitable (or a great big pile of rubble -- I saw this thing 22 years ago, it's hard to recall).  The thing is, at the end of the movie, they show a little bit of the aftermath -- all of the death and destruction and loss of life, and loss of homes.  But what I think I recall from this -- and, in fact, what my mind kept going back to today -- was that it also ended with life going on.  I mean, here was this big, huge, incomprehensible loss of a city, but once that was reported, the newscasters moved on to the "in other news" segment of the show. 

It seemed kind of heartless and chilling at the time, but I'm taking an odd sort of comfort in it now.  Even in the face of the most overwhelming loss, life goes on.

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