One Hundred Thousand
2:00am September 25th. Algiers, Louisiana
One hundred thousand people. I read the news from Washington DC that one hundred thousand protestors are marching on the capital, sharing a flood of outrage on our faltering King George, who frankly, doesn't care if one hundred million demonstrated. I look at the pictures from the day and I see marches with multitudes of people, smiles and laughter, and creative props, costumes and actions. I'm sure the people who are participating feel empowered and alive.
Hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. All affected by decades of socio-economic neglect and new super-fueled hurricanes. They are outraged at King George and his jesters who have made a joke out of the word "relief." They care deeply about their lost loved ones, lost homes, and displaced lives. I look through the images of my mind today and I see flooded homes, grim faces, and a children's doll floating face down in the tea colored water.
Tonight, there is alot of water. The bayou parishes of South Louisiana have become a lake. Water covers thousands of square miles of low lying land, bottled up against the high ground by a combination of Hurricane Rita's south wind and storm surge. High tide peaks in about thiry minutes. The water was still rising into people's homes when myself and another relief worker left the Point Au Chien community.
The disonance between what is happening in Washington DC tonight and what is happening in Louisiana is too much for me to rationalize. Progressives talk about ending racism, poverty, and showing how much they "care" about other people. But it seems that for too many people, those ideals are values of convenience. And when it becomes inconvenient, uncomfortable, or frightening - then the values become almost valueless.
What could I say to the hundreds of families who are watching the water rise towards their doors and windows, or people who have already lost everything from these storms? "I'm sorry, but I can't help you because we don't have enough volunteers. I know your house is flooding, you're hungry and everything you own will be lost. But look on the bright side. One hundred thousand people are protesting about the lack of relief response you've gotten. I'm sure it will change right away. President Bush always moves quickly on these kinds of things."
But things could be so much different. Imagine one hundred thousand people marching on the Gulf coast to act in soldiarty with others who have been marginalized and demonized by King George and his jesters. I think of the pictures of that day. I see hundreds of tons of food distributed, thousands of tarps and house repairs, and creative ways of acting together to build a community of change. I'm sure the people who are participating feel empowered and the ones they are helping are still alive. There might even be a smile.
Come to Louisiana. Come hand out food. Come provide medical care. Come cover the roof of a house. Come give hope to those who've lost everything. I guarantee it will change your life forever. For more information about Common Ground and community-based hurricane relief, visit http://www.commongroundrelief.org.