Thursday, September 01, 2005

While Rome Burns

Along with Holly, Debra, and many others, I find myself hurt, angry, and bewildered by the international response to the human catastrophe left in Hurricane Katrina's wake. Just let me say up front: "THANK YOU" to Canada and Switzerland for actually getting off their asses and doing something useful. Meanwhile the rest of the world sneers at the inefficient system of levees that failed, blames us for bringing this on ourselves by contributing to global warming, and snickers at the mighty United States finally getting its comeuppance.

These are the same people who were so terribly quick to whine and cry when they thought we didn't respond fast enough to the tsunami disaster in Asia. These are the same people who come running with outstretched hands whenever disaster strikes their own people. These are the same people who expect nothing more than quick response and total rebuilding from us when they need it. Now that Americans are dead and dying, where are they? How much money have other countries put into relief efforts in an attempt to alleviate human suffering among the victims?

Don't they owe us for the money, blood, and lives we have spent over the years in our efforts to help the less fortunate? Well, no. We didn't help them in order to enslave them or obligate anyone to anything. We have not forced out aid on anyone, neither have we charged interest or issued IOU's.

I am, of course, not speaking of the upper levels of our government when I say that. As a child of the Sixties, and a witness to Watergate, Iran-Contra, Lewinski, and all the other sordid goings-on in Washington, I have a deeply cynical and quite bitter view of our leaders. No, I'm talking about the people who put their own money and lives on the line. The thousands of Red Cross and Peace Corps VOLUNTEERS, the thousands of U.S. VOLUNTEER soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen who stand ready to go anywhere in the world to help and ask nothing in return.
Not even respect, because they know they won't get it. What they will get is spit on, shot at, cursed, and beaten. Yet they go. They go where they are most needed. They toil in conditions that even animals avoid. The suffer and sweat, they bleed, even die, and expect nothing in return. They don't do this for personal gain or glory. They do it because it's the right thing to do. It's the honorable thing to do.

Just as Talyn Wyran av Tiirsha dryn Straad put aside all thought of herself, her taak, and the Tonk to do the honorable thing and stand up for another human in his hour of need, a man sworn her enemy, a man she had every reason to hate, a man she could have just let die and been held blameless, so should we all look to our honor at times like this. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these," said Jesus, "ye have done it unto me." He didn't say "help your own countrymen and laugh at everybody else", he didn't say "turn your back and tend your own garden when people need help". He also didn't mean to do it because he would be pissed if you didn't. He said it because it's right, it's honorable, it's what we should do.

No one owes us for all the help we have given them over the years. That was not a loan. It was a gift, a gift from our heart. To have that gift thrown back into our faces now hurts us, it angers us, it saddens us. Will we then refuse our help when it's needed again? No. We'll sigh, we'll shoulder our packs and march off to be reviled and abused once again for doing the right thing. Why? Because it's the right thing to do, because our honor demands it of us, because we cannot do otherwise, because we're humans. Because we're Americans.

May whatever God there is have mercy on those in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama that need It's help now more than ever. Please use the links at the top of the sidebar to help in any way you can.


At 6:01 PM, Blogger Debra Young said...

As you know, I echo your feelings. From Devon's blog this morning, I discovered conscience finally kicked in with the international community--some of them anyway. d:

At 1:00 PM, Blogger Melly said...

Carter, I so understand your feelings. I agree that the offers to help came late (now that we know they did come), and that sometimes they were accompanied with criticism. It wasn't the time to criticize. It was time to offer help. Period.

I guess that it was just difficult for the world to think that the one super power might need help, maybe it was a little unsettling too. Like helping out a big brother when you expect him to always protect you.
Not an excuse, just an explanation.

But now you know that you're not alone and that help and donations are pouring in from all over.

At 4:05 PM, Blogger Bernita said...

There has always been an automatic, quiet exchange between Canada and the US - Hugo and Sept 11 being just two examples, on your side - both federally and privately - money, blood, experts, construction, hydro and engineering crews, whatever needed. We've always helped each other.
All I can say is you're welcome.

At 9:31 PM, Blogger Carter said...

Hi Debra. A lot of people are waking up to the realities of what's happening down there. Some still don't get it.

Melly, our civilization means nothing in the face of Nature's power. It probably helps us to get a black eye every now and then to remind us we're not such hut stuff as we think we are.

Hi Bernita. Thanks for stopping by. Words are just inadequate in cases like this. "Thank you" and "you're welcome" are the best we can do, but they don't come near expressing how deeply the appreciation for real friends and neighbors goes. Our two counties really are sisters. We fight a lot, but when the chips are down, we've got each other's backs.


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