Thursday, September 08, 2005

Kill 'em with Kindness

I understand and appreciate that liberals constantly strive to understand ‘root causes,’ and that liberals believe ‘there are no enemies, only friends we don’t understand yet.’ In support of those sentiments, and on the off-chance that a liberal will accidentally wander onto this site, permit me to take a few moments of your time, gentle reader, and introduce you to the root causes behind what some perceive as a blaming the victim mentality with respect to Hurricane Katrina.

First, you need to understand the worldview of those you perceive to be evil. Here are some commonly held precepts:

  1. Bureaucracies and committees are inefficient and cowardly.
  2. Governments are essentially composed of either a strong but usually vile single leader (dictatorship), or a herd of bureaucracies and committees.
  3. Money is power. The more money you give to government, the more power it has. The more power it has, the less power you have.
  4. A large group can do more damage than a single individual.
  5. We are all human, and therefore fallible.
  6. We are all human, and therefore capable of rising to great heights, if the need and motivation are present.

Put all the above into a pot and let it stew for a while. When it’s done cooking, one inevitably reaches the conclusion that relying on a government is iffy at best. Even if a particular government organization has great processes and 50% super-duper people, the not-so-super-duper will be afraid to act or incapable of acting promptly and efficiently, whilst the super-duper will have conflicting ideas about how to act. Research, analysis, and consensus-building all take time and tact.

On the other hand, each individual knows his own situation and is (or should be) in control of his own actions.

When you see us screaming at the TV "Where is your food? Don’t you know how to purify water with bleach? Why didn’t you leave?" we are not saying "chump. Serves you right." We’re saying "We want you to live! Why didn’t you want you to live?!"

Seeing people in pain and knowing that their pain wouldn’t have been quite so painful if only they too had been a bunch of redneck, survivalist nutjobs hurts.

The lack of preparation is also a reproach1. Among the 90,000 competing thoughts that scramble for attention when watching the devastation, one thought emerges repeatedly:

"I am a moron."

Two days before Katrina, I’m in Wal-Mart looking at the camping equipment. "Oh, a snake bite kit. Maybe I’ll add one to my hurricane kit next year."

1969, 500 people in Louisiana died of snake bite after the hurricane. I have still not purchased a snake bite kit. I am in Florida, with diamond-back rattlesnakes and pygmy rattlesnakes and water moccasins and coral snakes. Maybe this weekend . . .

"That could be me."

I don’t have anything to poop in, for pete’s squeak.

Will my water purification tablets take care of things like pesticide? I don’t know, but one day my life may depend on it.

Will my wind-up weather radio with the cell phone re-charger actually work? I don’t know. I’ve never tried it.

Will connectivity be available? Probably not.

If I could get in touch with anyone, could they reach me to help me? Probably not.

& so I get angry, on a primeval level, at all the evidence Katrina and her victims present to me, reminding me that I am human and fallible. Maybe if they’d done what I’d done, they’d be okay and I wouldn’t have to be reminded of my own mortality.

I’ve seen some comments and posts that imply we should not ‘blame the victim.’ But it is a mistaken kindness, and a false sentiment, that confuses ‘blaming the victim’ with ‘stating the facts.’ It is a fact that some people would still be alive today if they had been better prepared.

It is necessary to state that fact if we don’t want more people to die in future hurricanes. There are three hurricanes in the Eastern Atlantic right now. There are more hurricane seasons to come, one each year, and many more years to come, pray God.

When we holler "Why didn’t they . . .?" we are trying to help future hurricane victims. Maybe the LLLs, with their super-sensitivity, can help us re-phrase it, but do not try to shut us up or close your eyes to the value of the content. If you succeed, the life you fail to save by utilizing the expanded knowledge and increased personal responsibility of hard-hearted, evil right wingnuts may be your own.

Person A’s life trumps Person B’s feelings. There is an ever-widening gulf between the worldviews of an LLL and a conservative/libertarian/whatever I am, but surely we can all agree on that?


1 Incidentally, when Christians talk about natural disasters being a warning, reproach, or punishment from God, they are generally meaning it in this sense. Those of us who escaped are to take it as a 'warning ticket' from God, that we need to behave ourselves in the future, look to our souls and also use the good sense that the Good Lord gave us.

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