Monday, August 27, 2007

"Why Hurricane Katrina is still a tourist attraction two years later...coming up at ten", the WWL anchor said.

I was sitting at the computer, despairing a little. Seems that RT II and its stresses is combining with the upcoming 8-29 anniversary to make me a little sad. I'm reading all these blogs, thinking about everybody's suggestions within and without the core RT organizing group, and it's causing me to step away some. Part of me feels I know too much. It can be paralyzing. It can cause me to second-guess myself and others. I know not much of this makes sense, and can possibly be attributed to some post-event downer feelings (and I'm even second-guessing if I should be having those kinds of feelings, since many, many others did much more than I in getting RT together. I'm a lightweight compared to those folks), but I was seriously thinking of walking away from the blog and taking a hiatus.

Then I heard those words, and I got angry. I'm crying angry tears as I'm writing this, and I hope I can go on.

9-11 should have been a big wake-up call for this city. Four conventions were cancelled right off the bat due to the grounding of airplanes and the fear of another hijacking with deadly results. I would walk my dog in the park and encounter other dog owners who ran neighborhood bed and breakfasts, people who were getting anxious and upset because reservations were being cancelled left and right. The big yellow "Thanks for Traveling" signs hotels were putting up all over the country took on extra meaning for this area. Tourism was what made this city tick.

Sad to say, it still does.

8-29 happens. Neighborhoods are washed away due to man-made failures. Temples to the gods of tourism and of other people's celebrations are transformed into hell on earth. Hospitals are flooded. Families cannot return - some of them never will.

And should have become a time of real change for the better over the past two years, a chance to bring in opportunities for other kinds of economic development aside from condos and tourism - perhaps high technology, or development of this area as a center for greater experiments in wetland reconstitution and flood protection, to name a couple of directions this could go in - is reduced to "Hurricane Katrina is still a tourist attraction two years later".

The same old thinking. The same damned problems, only magnified x 1000.

Other people are looking back to what they posted two years ago, or where they were when it happened. I've got archives, myself - feel free to look at 'em if you need the time travel experience. I myself am a little sick of the time travel, because I feel we are still learning nothing from it. Nada. Zip. Zero.

In my tradition, one lights a candle on the anniversary of one's death, that person's yahrtzeit. A person's memory does shine on, in our hearts, in our stories we tell, in our genetic material, even. The yahrtzeit candle is symbolic of that. At the same time, however, we are encouraged to carry on. There's a reason why we can't find Moses' grave, aside from archaeological evidence having not been found...yet. So Moses the servant of the Lord died there, in the land of Moab, at the command of the Lord. He buried him in the valley of the land of Moab, near Beth-peor; and no one knows his burial place to this day.*

If we dwell for too long on the old ways, on the things that have always been done, we risk never leaving those ways. Getting our bad government out of our hair is only a first step. We need to bury it where we cannot find it, leave it behind, and bear witness to what it was like before we made that change. We all still need to fight for the things that we have taken for granted as our rights for so long. And, most importantly, we need to learn to let go and move on without forgetting.

I'm going to do my best to do what this mom did with her daughter over the next week. These days with my family will be buried all too soon before I can turn around.

Perhaps then I can try to shovel some dirt onto these old ways that, if we allow them to persist, could indeed drown us.

*from the JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh.


swampwoman said...

I am avoiding all television news reporting this week - I don't need reminding of 8/29, the rest of the nation does

this will pass, quickly I hope

Marco said...

Hey, re-membering is not all bad. It's just that memory can be compulsive and misused. Easy for me to say, right? Hang tough, head high.

"Time is a river with no banks."

chrissieroux said...

That's why I don't watch the news. Seriously.

We all need a break from the struggle. We need to wallow a little, really. Forget about the Big Stuff for an afternoon, or a week. And remember that after a major crisis, REAL opportunities often don't present themselves for a long time. We're in the disillusionment phase right now. After that comes the recovery.

Maitri said...

RT shouldn't have much of an effect on you as a New Orleanian woman on the second time we're having to relive what we were doing and feeling during that long weekend. New Orleans, its joys and woes, its people and the long road ahead are much bigger and more profound than blogs, a conference or any such thing. Everyone is bound to have feelings of exhaustion, second-guessing and post-partum depression after putting together an event such as we did, but let's never forget the dead, neighborhoods still in despair and why we came together in the first place.

We lived, we made it, we're the lucky ones.

charlotte said...