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Old 20 August 2007, 05:16 PM
Magdalene Magdalene is offline
Join Date: 30 October 2001
Location: Colorado
Posts: 5,704

Random thoughts of mine....I think on this, I'm a 'middle of the roader'.

On one hand, Katrina hit an area where the residents are predominantly black (which is, sadly, seen as a strike against them), were mostly poorer, and less well-educated to begin with. Many of them were probably surviving day to day well enough, but it was probably always precarious even *before* Katrina hit.

Now, prior to Katrina, even the ones that were just scraping by had *some* semblance of a support system--they probably had friends and family right there that could help them out, if things got really bad, they could apply the the city/county/state for aid. They knew where they could go.

Katrina hits, and not only do they lose everything *they* had, but so does the 'informal' support system (the friends and family), and the formal one (government) is a nightmare for various reasons. The social structure is completely wiped out, nobody can help anybody. If you've got a better education and job skills, maybe you can start over elsewhere. If you've got relatives or friends who live someplace that didn't get hit, you might get a leg up.

Nobody's denying the devastation was a lot worse than before and it's going to be harder for the victims to recover.

On the other hand, the attitude in the U.S. has usually typically been, "Get on with it." We frequently express impatience with people who can't move on with their lives. Your wife of 20 years had an affair and divorced you? Well, after six months, you should be moving on. You lost your job? Go out and find another one. What do you mean your son graduated from high school two years ago but hasn't found a job and is still living in your basement? Get him off his ass NOW.

I don't mean that as we aren't compassionate, but we do seem to think after a certain time frame, people should have pulled themselves together. And I think that's where a lot of people are getting to (mentally) with Katrina. I suspect the thought is, "Look--other disasters are going to happen. Hurricane Dean could cause problems. We could have another big earthquake in San Francisco. Do you really think we can spend the next ten years focusing on the Katrina victims when so much other stuff is going to happen?"

I can testify from job loss/unemployment experience that two years to pull things back together was about right for me, but I hadn't lost *everything*. But on the other hand, what *is* the cut-off time? How are we going to feel, if in fifteen years, we're *still* reading about Katrina victims claiming they can't find a job?

I don't know that it's a lack of compassion, or being too privileged....I'm wondering if it's more an uneasy feeling of, "How long and how hard is Katrina going to be milked as the reason why so many still can't get a job/get a home/etc etc etc?"

Thinking the problem is reality and theory in this situation are never going to mesh
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