A time to pitch in, and then point fingers
September 5, 2005
I intended to write about the Colorado Rockies, a team that is not quite the worst team in baseball but is making a run at it. There is a sticker on the beer cooler in the Woody Creek Tavern that reads, “I started at the bottom and I kind of like it here.” Whenever I read that sticker, which is almost daily, I can’t help but thinking of the Rockies.However, I did not plan to knock the Rockies – quite the opposite. I really like them. Their record may suck but they are a young and energized team with a wealth of potential. If only we don’t make a bunch of stupid trades, I’m willing to bet the Rockies will be contending for a division title within a couple of years.But it seemed almost obscene to write about a baseball team while that horrendous tragedy brought on by Hurricane Katrina leaps out at us in a ghastly series of television, newspaper and magazine images. It is as if we are looking at some monstrous disaster in a Third World country such as Bangladesh or Ethiopia. These images can’t be coming from our own nation, from a wondrous national playground, from our own New Orleans, a place celebrated around the world as “The Big Easy.” It’s a place where singing and dancing are the norm, not weeping and looting.It is not so much the power of that hurricane that is so numbing, it is the inept response from all levels of government. Thank God (if he or she really exists) that George W., our compassionate-warrior president, is not Aspen’s fire chief. Those of us in Lenado could not wait three or four days for a fire truck to respond to a local blaze. And it took George five days before he could find the time to actually go to New Orleans. I suppose he was too busy unpacking from his most recent vacation.And compounding this horrific tragedy is that Katrina leveled the worst of her wrath all along the Gulf Coast against the poorest of the poor, mostly minority residents who were without the cars or the money to take part in the massive evacuation. But you have all seen the news, which has brought us days and days of disgraceful images of death and suffering. The basic problem we have is the disconnect from reality that exists in this administration. I suppose it is too much to ask our leaders to spend time worrying about the homeless and poor in our nation as they are so busy creating more tax breaks for the rich and giant corporations. But I do know that many wealthy individuals and corporations will dig deep into their pockets to assist those who were ravaged on the Gulf Coast. I donated a minuscule amount to the Salvation Army, knowing it was all I could afford but knowing also that every donation is needed. We may have a penchant for getting involved in (or starting) meaningless wars, but we also have history of helping our neighbors when they obviously need help.Someone, I believe it may have been the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said in an interview last week that “this is not the time to be looking in the rearview mirror, this a time to be looking down the road through the windshield.” That was not a direct quote, but he was making the point that there will be plenty of time to point fingers and place blame. Right now the immediate crisis is bringing assistance to the victims of Katrina. He is correct, but a little finger-pointing is necessary. On Thursday, Sept. 2, George W. in an interview on “Good Morning America” said, “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees.” What planet is that man living on?Each year when hurricane season rolls around, newspaper and magazine articles and television specials focus on the potential of complete disaster in New Orleans if a major storm surge, such as the one that Katrina brought, should sweep into Lake Pontchartrain. For years and years scientists in various fields have seen the storm surge into Lake Pontchartrain as a worst-case scenario, and it finally happened. And George W. didn’t think anyone could have anticipated such an event? A friend of mine considered his statement to be a “boldfaced lie.” I couldn’t go that far, but we do know that George fudged the truth rather extensively before invading Iraq. Just mark this up as another stupid statement from a man who is rather proficient in that area, and let us move on to doing what we can to assist New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast. This is a thought I would rather not entertain, but the fact is that the official hurricane season does not end until Nov. 30. So it is possible we could have a tragedy dumped on top of an existing one. It is almost unthinkable, but we should at least “anticipate” that possibility, as should governments at every level. New Orleans and endless other cities and tiny communities along the Gulf Coast need our help, so do whatever you can. No matter how insignificant your contribution may seem – it is not!This is the 320th article in a two-part series devoted to the community of Woody Creek, a place where a game, any game, is never more important than helping a neighbor.