Pascal's Diversion Trap and Hurricane Recovery
Blaise Pascal, 17th century scientist, inventor and philosopher once wrote,
"Being unable to cure death, wretchedness, and ignorance, men have decided, in order to be happy, not to think about such things."
After talking with a few people along the Mississippi Gulf Coast this week, the American public -Oh, those of short attention-spans - needs to know that things have not returned to normal in the region where Hurricane Katrina hit almost three months ago. Even after tremendous efforts in relief and recovery, for many, many people there is not light at the end of the tunnel. There are no prospects that they will be able to return to their homes any time soon. And word this week came that FEMA will cease to pay for motel rooms for displaced families after December 1. The majority of America has moved on to other diversions, yet the people along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama still suffer.
Read further about what I've learned of the situation in Mississippi and about what my daughter is doing about it.
The reality is that Hurricane Katrina is a diaster on a scale different that any of us living in American has ever experienced.
Other diasters have been as bad, but in a more confined, localized pattern. Not in modern times has there been a disaster the size of the state of Kansas. The truth is, this isn't a reality TV show that gets resolved in 12 episodes. Think years. Not weeks. Years.
Imagine being a prosperous, well-off family in your community. Now
you have joined the ranks of the least well off. Not only is your house
gone, but your means of employment is on hold. And it isn't just you,
but all your immediate family, all your friends, almost everyone you
know is in the same situation. Then, after heroic efforts to get basic
clean up done, so you can drive down your street, you have prospects of
living in a FEMA trailer in your front yard for at least the next two years. And then you
don't know where you will live becasue your nice middle class home
that you've put so much love, sweat and equity into is gone, and
because "they" told you that you didn't live in a flood plain, you
didn't have flood insurance, and because high water from the storm is what
destroyed your house, there will be no insurance money coming to
rebuild. No house, no job, no income, no hope.
This is the reality that many, many families along Katrina's path are experiencing. As a result in many places, after the initial surge of energy to not let this disaster beat you, you are tired, depression is setting in, and next week is Thanksgiving. Yeah, you're thankful your family's okay. But still, it is hard, very hard, and with no prospects of easier times coming. This is like the Depression all over again.
Here we are approaching Thanksgiving next week, and we, the American public, have moved on to other issues. What's on the menu for Thanksgiving dinner, whose coming. Did Bush lie? Will T.O. ever play for the Eagles again? What do I get my wife for Christmas? Got to do my Christmas cards. Got to finish that proposal. Got to finish raking the leaves. Got to take a nap. We are all caught in Pascal's diversion trap, and while we play our game of denial, children and their families along the Gulf Coast continue to suffer.
Shelby's Christmas for Mississippi Children
Earlier this week I returned from a trip, and my daughter showed me a letter she had received from a friend. It was a letter with a check in it. Turns out on her own, my daughter decided to raise money to buy toys for kids in Mississippi who were impacted by Hurricane Katrina. No prompting from anyone. She just did it. Makes a father proud. So, far her friends have sent her $100. That's so sweet.
So, as we talked about what she wanted to do, we decided to go there to let her give some kids gifts. I've been in touch with a couple churches in Mississippi who will collect names and details of some kids who need some help and love this Christmas. We are going to buy gifts for them, and go to Mississippi and let my daughter distribute them to these kids in mid-December.
If you would like to help out, you can send a tax-deductible check
made out to the Newland Presbyterian Church (where I am their Interim
minister) designated for "Shelby's Christmas for Mississippi Children."
Any money you send will go directly to these kids. Email me, and I'll give you the address where you can send your
donation. We'll include a card with your name on it and will post a
report with pictures at my The Presbyterian Polis Hurricane Relief
weblog after we return.
If you can help, it will make a difference, not only in the lives of some children, but also in my daughter's who is learning to be our family's philanthropist.
May your diversions not distract you from what is important. Thank you.