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Published:September 22nd, 2005 13:36 EST
Katrina: Chaos in a World of Freedom

Katrina: Chaos in a World of Freedom

By Ashley Palmer

Earlier this month, there were two forces battling it out. It was a battle that would eventually cost many lives. A mother’s loving arms, and the icy death grip of Katrina’s waters, each fighting to have the life of a 2 year old boy…no amount of this mother’s love could save her little boy, the water was too strong, it ripped the baby right from her arms, and won. Imagine this: a woman overcome by the stench of bodies baking in the hot, Louisiana sun, wades through grimy water in search of her husband. He has been missing for 3 days. Picture New Orleans, once a dazzling vacation spot complete with spectacular beaches, maybe even a trumpet player on the downtown street corner playing “Amazing Grace”, perhaps a few tired walkers stop to rest and sing along in strained voices, “ I once was lost, but now I am found …“  That is all gone. New Orleans, now 80 percent submerged, most nearly resembles the lost city of Atlantis. Some say it could take several years to rebuild, other say it will never be rebuilt.

These are just a few of the many devastating stories that happened this past week as a result of hurricane Katrina. I can’t help but wonder, “Is this some sort of punishment? Is God paying us back for some mess we’ve made of ourselves…some wrong we‘ve done to our country?” I hate to say we may have deserved it. Just look at the poverty rates, the way immigrants are being treated when they arrive in America, or even how many children grow up in seemingly “perfect homes”, but are really being abused. It all points back to our choices.

America’s poverty rate is rapidly rising: according to the Census Bureau 12.7% percent of America’s population are just barely scraping by. That’s roughly 1 out of 13 people, which means 1 out of 13 people don’t have a decent meal to eat, or place to live in. We’re supposed to be the land of freedom, the land of opportunity and this is happening?

We also have immigrants risking their lives to get here, to find hope…and for what? To reach this “freedom land” and have to live on the streets!?  We sit at home listening to the news, thinking how catastrophic this hurricane was, but we continue to live our complacent lives and continue eating our dinners, talking about other goings on, eventually forgetting about it. Meanwhile, there is a family of five that has to share a candy bar for dinner, or a man is trapped in his house, on the brink of death, waiting for the National Guard to rescue him. That is why we deserve this, maybe we need a jolt every once in while; to shake us out of our routine, but we have to ask ourselves, “Is it really helping?”

I heard recently, over 4 children die from child abuse each day. I pass by so many homes everyday, not knowing, not realizing what pain and suffering lay inside. This country has become adept at faking. Putting on a mask that most people can’t, or won't see through. I go to town and see smiling children everywhere, but little do I know they are far from happy when they get home. Even some proclaiming to be ‘Christians’ are involved with these horrible acts. Hypocrites, but you wouldn’t know it. The parents that do this to their children are the kind, caring people you might work with everyday, people you would probably trust… that’s the scary thing. When Katrina hit I heard a lot of this, it’s almost like the ‘real people’ crawled out of their cocoons, and out came something very different from a butterfly…out came themselves.

It’s because of things like this I become aware of what America is really like. Because of things like this, I find I can’t sit here complaining about the things I want or don‘t have. I have to do something.  I’ve found that even though it’s cold outside, there’s certain warmth to it. It’s dark outside, but in a way it’s as bright as day. It’s a sad and fearful world, but if you open your eyes…just for a moment, you’ll see there’s much more love. Much more hope. We just have to act. What I have to do is help the blind see, but how can how can I do that when I, myself, am blind? Katrina has shed a new light on me and hopefully others also. I don’t want to be a hypocrite; walking around blindly, pulling people with me into this ditch we call ’The Land of Freedom’. Now I know I don’t have to; Katrina has helped me realize a part of this country I never knew existed before…“was blind but now I see.”