Five years ago, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. It’s ironic that at this very moment, the people affected by the floods in Pakistan are being forgotten in a way very similar to what transpired five years ago in Louisiana.
I remember that week well. I was doing some work from home for the Buddhist Peace Fellowship when the news of the Hurricane came to the forefront. I felt outraged at the stories of people being stranded on their rooftops, waiting for rescues that never came. I felt so helpless sitting there in my apartment in Oakland, CA, wishing there was something I could do. The only thing I could think of was to call the Greyhound Bus company to see what it would take for them to send their buses there to help get people out… I couldn’t fathom how the U.S. government couldn’t get its act together to help those affected. And so I dialed Greyhound. (They couldn’t help.)
I sat down and wrote what eventually ended up as “Waking Up to the Tragedy of New Orleans,” which you can read in the Writing section of this blog. Rarely have I had words flow out of my pen so quickly and so passionately. Here’s an excerpt:
To witness the travesty that has been New Orleans over these past five days is heartbreaking beyond belief. And outrageous.
Phrases comes to my mind, and at first I thought them too inflammatory to write here. But I will anyway, because I want to wake us up. I want to wake myself up. Genocide. Ethnic Cleansing. Economic Cleansing. What else to call it when thousands of poor, Black people are allowed to die in front of our eyes? And not just any death – excruciating deaths, brought about by lack of food, water… drowning deaths because people have waited for rooftop rescues which never came, and while they watched other corpses float by… children dying, old people dying, disabled people dying.
The really sad thing is, I’m not sure much has changed since August 2005.
May all beings be safe.