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.