Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2005
Desolation of the Heart
This week has been hell on every level, hasn't it? My heart goes out to the people of Gulf Coast and their families. The magnitude of this disaster is so enormous it's almost impossible to grasp.
I don't agree with the reference made by one politician, calling it our tsunami. The loss of life and property is grievous, and I won't downplay the far-reaching impact it will almost certainly have, nor the tragic implications for the families living in, or with ties to, the deep south. But as I understand it, the deaths in the southeastern US number in the hundreds - not the hundreds of thousands, as occurred in the area around the Indian Ocean.
We here in the US tend to trivialize broad-scale deaths outside our borders, as though anyone who's not white-bread American is somehow less valuable as a human being; as though one American is more important than 1000 non-Americans. We even tend to downplay the all-too-real human toll among our own service men and women killed in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, like virtually everyone I know, I sit glued to CNN, online and on television, watching in helpless horror as families and lives are forever rewritten by the affects of a single storm. I know that while I watch, lives are almost certainly being snuffed out as people drown in the rising waters. The scope of property damage is unimaginable. There may be a few structures salvaged and the portions above sea level will likely survive - but for the greater part of the city, it's gone. Even once the breaches in the levees are repaired, water removal will take time. Waterlogged homes will not be livable. My guess is that most will be demolished.
I'll ask the question that a lot of people probably won't like.
SHOULD New Orleans be rebuilt? There is virtually a certainty that at some point in the future, this will happen all over again. Hurricanes are a fact of nature, and this city is built below sea level. While normally I wouldn't argue rebuilding after a disaster, New Orleans is a special situation. There will be another storm of comparable magnitude and this locale is still below sea level. It's just a matter of time. Do we spend untold billions of dollars to rebuild an entire city where the same thing will happen in ten, twenty years - or perhaps only one or two years? Six months? A month?
I'm not saying that NOLA shouldn't be rebuilt at all, but I would certainly urge some very careful weighing of all considerations.
We as a nation will have to absorb an astronomical fiscal impact from this, too. There are over a million homeless and unemployed. These folks will need not just shelter, food and medicine; they will need jobs. They will need to rebuild their lives. At the very best, it will take months to rebuild this city. The more likely scenario is counted in years, perhaps decades. I suspect that the simple economic realities will reduce any returning populus to almost nothing. Families will have to build a life elsewhere. Waiting for a rebuild simply won't be an option.
Only time will tell...
Returning to a slightly more egocentric angle, 00 hacked my email yesterday, then proceded to harangue me on instant messenger even after I blocked her name. I changed passwords and changed my instant messenger name, though I think I am going to have to change messenger again. The one I changed TO was an ancient Yahoo name, the first email I ever obtained. And it is so thick with spam that when I'm signed in I get mail notifications literally at the rate of about one a second. It makes me crazy and I don't need any help in that department.
Without going into too much detail, 00 reversed directions while I was trying to change things over, and as quickly as if someone flipped a switch, she wanted me back as her mother. I have become numb from years of comparable exchanges, so I replied from a distance, trying to let things roll off of my back as much as possible. I don't know how to do relationships. I have no real context from which to draw. I've never seen "normal" - if such a thing even exists. So I guess maybe I'm just not capable of loving anyone, not even my own children. I don't even know what love is any more. The kids grew up with me and say I'm cold and heartless. They should know.
I may go on hiatus from this diary for a while. I had hoped life would get better. I am not dismissing T, who is the one real bright spot in my life - but by the same token, I wonder if I'm being fair to him if I am incapable of loving anyone.
Before - After
In the grander scheme of things, no soul can truly be replaced. Each one of us has a place in the universal tapestry. We each contribute our own color and texture. When one thread is snipped too soon, it distorts all the threads around it. Other lives can unravel and tear. If the wrong thread is ripped away, the whole fabric of life becomes dangerously fragile.
- LeiLani, aka Radiogurl aka Bright Opal (1957 - )