And climb the stairs to the beach...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Morning Folks 09 15 05

"It is as impossible for man to demonstrate the existence of God as it would be for even Sherlock Holmes to demonstrate the existence of Arthur Conan Doyle."
Frederick Buechner

Some of us have a hard time with needing proof for everything. Wanting to investigate and dig in and prove to everyone else what we believe to be true. I am one of those 'types' who love to have concrete proof, facts and figures that will provide indisputable proof to everyone else that what I believe is accurate and true. It isn't that I need proof, just that I need to show others why I believe what I do because I want them to join me in that belief. But, in reality, I realize that my truth, that which brought me to my own conclusions, can't be someone else's truth. My experience and certainty comes from within and if my fellow man (woman) has different experiences then their truths will be different as well.
Kitty's comments on September 9th's posting about New Orleans is what prompted me to think about what is true. Kitty's friends' experiences and Becky's friends' experiences are equally devastating. Like Kitty's friends, Janet and Jim are also worried about loved ones and friends they have not been able to contact. The safety and whereabouts of most of their friends is unknown and that's the hardest part for them. Their own futures are unknown. They don't know if they can ever go back to their home, even though it is still standing, their cars, jobs and community are lost to them as well. But, their experiences are different and their truths are still truths.
I didn't see at all what Kitty must have seen in Becky's comments about being relieved that the Guard was there. What I read was that her friends were fearful because of what was happening around them. There is no mention of race or class of people they are fearful of, just that the presence of the Guard in an area where there is no public safety or protection was welcome. I don't think class or race concerns them just now. Their survival is what they are concerned with. I agree, having a gun held to his head is pretty extreme and troubling to them as well or they wouldn't have mentioned it to Becky. Her friends are good and gentle people, too. But, much like the heightened security after 9/11, although it feels like your freedom is being compromised, isn't there good reason for it and aren't we relieved that they are trying to do something to prevent it? I don't think they are protecting anyone from the people who took diapers and milk from stores. But there is reason to be fearful of the gangs and people shooting and attacking others and the general craziness this disaster has brought on.

I know Kitty, who is more passionate than anyone I know when she thinks there is an injustice taking place, is reacting more to what she sees on CNN than what Becky wrote in her e-mail. And if she reads it more carefully, I think she will see that being happy that the Guard is present is Becky's comment based on her own truth and her fear for her dear friend's safety.

Thanks for the comments, Kitty, and for being passionate and involved. I know your comments are heartfelt and I know they come from what you know to be true. My truth about all of this is that people of all races and classes are hurting for lots of reasons. They have lost lives, homes, property, livelihoods and history along with any sense of safety they may once have had, thanks to Katrina. That is indisputable truth I think we can all agree on.

And from a different perspective, the conference that I just attended in Nashville was for users of municipal software designed specifically for municipalities and local government entities. They have about 1,000 clients up and down the east coast and in the deep south. 27 of their clients in Mississippi and Louisiana were wiped out in this disaster. The City of Biloxi was one of them. Many people scheduled to attend the conference could not be there and it certainly made the whole disaster more REAL to me-thinking about my counterparts in local governments on the gulf coast and trying to imagine how we could operate in a similar situation. They had only one of these 27 clients who had a disaster recovery program that will allow them to restore and get up and running again and have access to their financial records. All of those towns and cities and many more like them are no longer operating. The police, fire, hospitals and general government can't access any of their records, run their communications that are essential to providing any of the services they normally provide. In some cases there are no police cars to use for patrol, fire engines to drive to the fires, ambulances to run, when the water recedes. They might not have local maps that can get them to the area they are needed or maps that locate water and sewer pipes. There may be no record of recent burials, births, marriages or other vital records that might be needed in proving identity. No utilities means no businesses can run. No banks means no paychecks for those people or for those who depend on the local government for some means of financial support. There is no way for the municipalities to collect taxes that fund these payrolls and support the needy and educate the children. It is too big to take in even when reduced to the local level and I don't even want to think about what it will mean to those local officials to begin to rebuild.

If any of you have actually read this entire thing, thanks very much for listening to my rambling. I promise to be more brief and much less political tomorrow.


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