Anyone who’s ever taken a toddler to a playground knows that you can tell them over and over again not to walk in front of the swing while it’s in use but until that child is actually knocked down by said swing they are unlikely to get the message.
I think our country has been knocked down by a swing. I’ve listened to political leader after political leader say that there was “no way we could have predicted this kind of devastation/situation.”
Anyone who read my last blog knows that the scientists interviewed by National Geographic predicted it last year and there were other articles predicting this that were published over 4 years ago. Furthermore many meteorologists and climatologists have suggested that it might happen in 2005 and 2006. We were warned. We just didn’t listen.
Once the refugees are evacuated and the water is pumped there is sure to be a lot of finger pointing going on in Washington and that’s probably appropriate since we really weren’t as prepared as we should have been and the powers that be should take accountability for that. However my feeling is that this is more of a societal problem than a political one.
Al Smith (a once prominent politician and Governor of New York during the early 1920’s) once said “The American people never carry an umbrella. They prepare to walk in eternal sunshine.”
I think he had a point. We have it so good in this country. If we wanted to play the comparative suffering game with almost any other nation on earth we would lose big time. Jews in America had to change their last names in order to get jobs. Jews in Europe were massacred. African Americans spent the better part of the last century fighting against segregation. In South Africa Blacks were dealing with Apartheid. We’ve been attacked on our native soil twice over the last hundred years…Israel has been attacked…well to be honest I think they’ve lost count. So we have dealt with hardships but not as much as most. We expect everything to just work itself out. We are under the delusion that being the richest and the strongest translates into perpetually being safe and secure.
But once we get knocked over we do have a tendency to get back up and then we’re pissed; not just because we’ve been hurt but because our sense of security has been messed with. Bad things aren’t supposed to happen to us and we look to our leaders and ask why they didn’t do a better job at protecting us. We have the right to ask the question and we have a right to an answer. That’s the great thing about democracy. That’s also how we ended up with the 9/11 report.
But the problem is that if Clinton or either of the Bush’s had stood up in front of the American people before 9/11 and said, “We need to protect ourselves against a possible but uncertain terrorist threat and to do so we’re going to have to raise taxes and implement security measures that are going to further inconvenience you at the airport,” the majority of American’s would have balked. Sure, we don’t mind donating large amounts of money to those who are in need or who have been hurt but we don’t want to part with little or moderate amounts of money to prevent people from getting hurt. That’s not a tangible enough problem. And if we had been able to prevent 9/11 we would have had some politician on TV saying, “Hey, these guys were going to attack us but we put a stop to it before they were even able to work out all the details of the plan.” And our response would have been, “Oh, that’s nice. Can we let our relatives walk us to the gate now?”
Now people are saying that the money that pretty much every scientific organization (not to mention the Army Corps Of Engineers and the Senator of Louisiana) knew we were going to need in order to deal with a class 4 or class 5 hurricane (which we knew was coming) was unjustly diverted to Homeland Security.
Well of course it was. America was attacked fairly recently, remember? That was a pretty tangible problem. We were knocked over by a particularly vicious swing and we were trying to change our behavior accordingly. We don’t walk in front of that swing set anymore. We walk on the railroad tracks instead.
Like I said before, I think we have the right to ask our leaders why spending for projects that could have saved lives in New Orleans was cut. But I also think we need to adjust our own thinking. If we want our leaders to be proactive we need to support them in their prevention efforts.
That’s just my two cents. I promise I won’t make every blog about this but considering everything that’s going on writing about anything else would have felt forced and insincere.
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