Friday, May 18, 2007

Well, I wrote this earlier in the week...

...and then, this morning, Mark posted this.

They were robbed of everything America had told them made their lives valuable: their houses, their possessions, the jobs that might help them to rebuild. The promises they have believed, that hard work and timely payment would make them safe, that their government would protect them in extremity, proved to have all been lies. They lost everything; not just things, but faith. Is it any wonder that many of the elderly or infirm could not cope, that even the younger and stronger might despair so that suicide rates spiked in the months after the storm?

Loss can be a killer. It is tough to crawl out from under it.

But killing any kind of faith has got to be one of the cruelest things imaginable.

In my early days home, the ghosts seemed to crowd around. It was an inescapable feeling in a city so clearly in ruin. With passing time there is a growing numbness, a scarring over that might be healthy, but I wonder. As the dead pass deeper into memory, does our sense of obligation to them wain as well? As Memorial Day creeps up on us, we will hear the routine speeches about the sacrifices of our glorious dead, and our own obligations to the constitutional republic they died to create or defend.

There was so much hope for our city even at the height of despair, that given a slate wiped clean we could rebuild it better: better levees, betters schools, better government: levee and assessor reform, the blossoming of new schools, the election of new officials (recall: in the districts where the population was returned in significant numbers, we tossed out the old ones. Nagin is the exception, not the rule). As we slide toward old ways, I believe we need to remember those who died in the flood--all of them, including those who died of despair under an unending burden of bad news--and the obligation we have to them.

At the very least, we are obligated to listen and to act whenever and however we possibly can.
The people who are still here are some of the strongest people I know, but they all need more than empty promises.

Please, let's all do what we can, and a little more, every day.

Because everyone's lives can depend on it.

6 comments:

Maitri V-R said...

Speaking of faith, have you heard about this?

Leigh C. said...

Yep, they came to the school where I work. Wonderful bunch of girls. I wish now I had had them there for the whole year I've been teaching...

Unfortunately, a while back, when they first came, I was kind of disparaging towards their presence, but it was mainly because I had nearly no warning that they were coming.

saintseester said...

Wow. That is pretty heart warming, especially considering the age of those kids.

Leigh C. said...

It IS amazing.

It also unfortunately exposes the disconnect between the school and the Jewish organization with which it is affiliated. The principal had NO clue what their story was. If she had known, then the presence of these girls and their accomplishment could have been truly celebrated for what it is - a determined effort to stretch beyond the classroom and educate themselves in a subject they were genuinely interested in.

Damn, I'm getting a little angry, now...

Maitri said...

To clarify, what was their story and what part of it did the principal not get?

Leigh C. said...

All the principal knew was that a group was coming in to teach the kids, and that she had to "fit" the group in somewhere, so she went with my art class. The whole thing was treated as though it was a burden on the teachers and the whole system there, rather than the really neat and amazing thing that it is.

I think if the Jewish Federation had clued in the school well in advance, they might have been able to incorporate the presence of these girls into the curriculum and the schedules of ALL the teachers, rather than treating their arrival as though it were something to be barely tolerated.

I also think, on another level, that this belies the inclusionary veneer that the Jewish community here puts on - that all denominations of Judaism CAN coexist. These were girls from an orthodox Bais Yaakov-type school coming in to a conservative/Reform affiliated school.

Grrrrrr....I'm just getting angrier and angrier.