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September 6, 2005

All I have to say about Katrina

I really don't want to talk much about Hurricane Katrina. We are doing our part by donating to charities, and by helping out the refugees who ended up in our area.

This is really all I want to say beyond that: This tragedy has served to highlight a couple of truths that we have forgotten, and we would do very well to remember them.

First, we don't control nature, it controls us. We've been remarkably successful at making ourselves comfortable, and even safe, in the face of day-to-day natural forces, which is why it is such a slap in the face when nature wins. But the forces of nature are far greater and far stronger than we are, and nature is going to win, every time. Humans can't change that. Governments, certainly, can't change that.

Second, you cannot and should not depend on the government to keep you safe. Your job is to work first to keep yourself safe.

Here's a bit of writing on the subject by Wilfred McClay, in which he points out that the reason we are so angry is because we have been so successful at mastering our environment.

Hat Tip to Mungo

Posted by lynx at September 6, 2005 1:08 PM

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Tracked on September 9, 2005 5:24 PM


"Second, you cannot and should not depend on the government to keep you safe. Your job is to work first to keep yourself safe."

I agree to a certain extent. But if you take that arguement too far you end up saying, "No one should live in New Orleans in the first place. Or in Holland. Or in Greenland. Or any other place where the lives of the citizenry are dependent upon their collective action, expressed through their goverment, to protect themselves and their communities from the worst effects of nature."

Be precise, and be careful, as to how far you are willing to go along that arguement.

Posted by: Lioness at September 6, 2005 2:07 PM

"Second, you cannot and should not depend on the government to keep you safe. Your job is to work first to keep yourself safe."

I would like to second what you say here! I'd like to add (or see you add ;-) that no one should depend on the "Federal" gov't.

For instance, the levees that failed. IMO, NOT the Fed. gov't's responsibility. That was local gov't responsibility.

There is a reason we have 3 levels of governing bodies - National, State and Local.

It IS my responsibility to keep myself and family safe. That means many things...voting....appearing at local gov't hearings and speaking...writing and calling officials when things need to be fixed/changed/made different somehow; just to name a few of the them.

Posted by: Diane at September 6, 2005 10:27 PM

I think in this, like in everything, there are shades of gray. For people who were unable to leave I think there is a societal responsibility to help them. Whether that falls to the government, local or federal: whether it is up to us individually to take responsibility for those in need in our community: and why there is this community in need at all all remains to be speculated on. And I am certain it will be.

Could we have done better? Obviously. Would anyone else have done differently? We will never know.

Posted by: e at September 7, 2005 3:46 PM

I don't think so, Lioness. I'm saying that if you choose to live in those areas, you should first make certain that you can care for yourself. If you live in a hurricane area, you should have an emergency kit and an escape plan. Period. There are resources, even for the poor, the elderly, the handicapped ... and not all of these resources are government-run.

D, when I talk about personal responsibility here, I'm not just talking about voting. I'm talking about a plan, and a means to execute that plan. Vote all you want, but you can take care of your physical safety better than the government can. It's better to do, then to sit back and wait for help. But yes, where we as people have agreed to have the government handle certain things, it should always be local first, then on up the chain.

E, societal responsibility, yes. I disagree that societal responsibility=government.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 7, 2005 6:51 PM

::Sigh::...Steph...you rock.

Posted by: Jill, 'The Crib Chick' at September 7, 2005 7:07 PM

I was going to say that you assume that you are disagreeing with me. I don't think my comment took a side. But you know me well enough to know that we don't see eye to eye on this. I'm not looking for a n argument because i think we agree more than we disagree on things, and I view this as a hypothetical question...But what large body of people (which for a disaster this scale it would have to be) would be more appropriate for this than government? I see the failings as being the same in any organization. And I don't have any answers for how to change that, sadly.

Posted by: elisabeth at September 7, 2005 11:59 PM

E, I'm not looking for an argument either. It did look to me that in your comment you were using the two words interchangeably, and I pointed out that to me they are very different.

These comments have been interesting. If y'all will look at my original post, I wasn't placing blame anywhere or pointing fingers at anyone. All I've been saying is that we need to reevaluate our ideas of our imperviousness to the forces of nature, and that it is better to prepare yourself than to depend on a government that might or might not work well.

Those two statements are truths. I don't see any way you can get around them. They're not arguments to not live in certain areas. They're not arguments about the obligations of society. We can talk about those, sure, but that's not where I was going.

The two things I said are the important lessons that I think we need to learn. Are they the only lessons and issues in Katrina? Not by a long shot. But those are the only two things I wanted to address.

Posted by: Stephanie at September 8, 2005 9:09 AM

I agree. Well said.

Posted by: Andrea at September 8, 2005 3:35 PM

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