Saturday, September 03, 2005

Students Discussing Katrina

On my class Web-site, a student posted this two days ago:

So I wanted to pose a question to everyone out there. First, allow me to give a background story. So today in Government Class we are learning about the media. In relation to the media, we are getting daily updates about Katrina. Ones of the issues is not that the govrnment does not know what to do with the situation, most of the problem is that the entire thing is not in the budget. We are spending too much money on the war, for example. You all know that already though. The scary thing is that if you look to the core of each individual problem, everything comes down to money some how. So my question is, why do we need/have money? Most of you will probably respond "because goats are hard to lug around in bulk everytime I want a Jamba Juice." And I understand that, so I guess I am really asking why we need to get something from everyone? Take Katrina, no one is volunteering to rebuild New Orleans. It is going to cost "billions of dollars." So people are saying, "Well, I want to help and I sympathize greatly. But, I won't help unless I get something in return." How did human nature come to this, or is it just our capitalistic society? Money, technically, does not exist, and yet it is the religion of humans. Money implies stature and hierarchy. This all kind of relates to The Fountainhead I guess, and everything else we have talked about. Why do we value material things? Why does money have to exist, why can't people just do things becaue they need to be done? I am interested in anything that anyone has to say.

Here's my reply:

Katie--your questions are important. I think buried in your post (correct me if I'm off here) lies this core question: What the hell is wrong with us?

Or perhaps that's me projecting after witnessing days of footage from New Orleans. I'm assuming you've seen it too; hundreds of poor mostly black folks are dead and dying even as I write this, and our nation, full of money and resources, has been doing very little. Go here to see what our President was doing while people were dying.

You bring up human nature and the idea that people will sympathize/do something only when it benefits them. I agree. Those of us in this class are able to go about our lives because we are not affected, really, by this storm. We still have everything we need--and the people dying, mostly, do not look like us.

So what do we do? Do we CHANGE human nature? Or do we rise above it...try to live in a way that transcends our very nature of putting ourselves first. Either of those would be tough to do...but maybe it's possible. There is a third course, I think--but it's as tough as the other choices: we provide adequate resources (food, water, shelter, medicine) for every single person on this planet. It would be possible to do this--it could happen TOMORROW. Perhaps it would mean socialism across all societies or a LIVE-AID concert every single day...I don't know. But as a global community we do have the capabilities to do this.

Waterbones posts about how to volunteer for the Cross: I'm considering volunteering because I feel stupid and hypocritical sitting here typing a friggin blog while people are dying. But you know what's really sad? The major things keeping me from going right now: the time committment (6 months) and the fact I am in debt (I was planning on using the extra time to tutor/do some creative extra-work stuff to make more dough). So I guess I'm just one of those friggin Democrats that I loathe who whine about how the government is doing nothin while I sit here doing nothin.


At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the city was totally unprepared. Why didn't the mayor bus people out? As far as the president is concerned, should he carry the weight of the world on his shoulders every time something bad happens and stop living his own life? None of the rest of us do that. How about, God is in control, let's all chip in and do what we can to help. But nothing anyone does will take away the suffering and devastation of it all.

At 6:42 PM, Blogger jamie_donohoe said...

"As far as the president is concerned, should he carry the weight of the world on his shoulders every time something bad happens and stop living his own life?"

Actually, yes, that is exactly what he should do. We should expect nothing less from the leader of the most powerful nation in the world. At the very least, he should stop taking vacation days.


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