Cry Mercy

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I
live in a small town in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, across Lake
Pontchartrain from New Orleans. My town barely escaped total destruction
by Hurricane Katrina. The only mercy shown to us was a dry aftermath.
We have no power, and no ability to communicate with the outside
world. Our town is littered with the remains of giant soaring pines
and centuries old Live Oaks.

I
discovered that the home of my former next-door-neighbor had been
sheared in half by a huge pine. Inside that house is a hound, trapped
in a dog crate underneath the rubble. No one can get to him either
to save him, or to put him out of his misery, so he howls and moans
continually. It haunts the waking hours and the dreams of those
who remained to weather the storm in their homes. At this point
people are praying that he will just die, not only to relieve his
misery, but their own.

I
have left my home and returned to my mother’s house 100 miles away
to live for who knows how long. It is estimated that it could be
six weeks before our power is restored, so I move my life here.
My husband continues in our home, without benefit of electricity,
in near 100-degree temperatures.

Many
of my acquaintances have left and are never coming back. I receive
emails daily from friends and fellow homeschoolers, letting me know
that they have relocated to the Memphises, Houstons, and Birminghams
of the south. What was once a tight-knit support group is now scattered
across the country, dispersed by the most awful of catastrophes
I could never have imagined.

Tonight,
Charmaine Neville was filmed speaking to the Roman Catholic Archbishop
in Baton Rouge in which she described in horrifying detail the hideousness
of what is happening in her own Bywater neighborhood in New Orleans
East from which she managed to escape: Hundreds of dead bodies,
the rape of women and children, people eaten by alligators and more
and more of what can only be described as something which not even
the most evil mind could ever conceive.

I
have heard many many people, especially libertarians, blasting government
officials for their excruciatingly slow response, for enacting policies
that make such a disaster possible, etc. etc. etc. It is seen as
most excellent fodder for the anti-statists among us. But none of
that really matters right now, because in this very instant human
beings are dying, from starvation, dehydration, disease, murder,
and yes, even death by wild beast. Each of these persons is one
of God’s children. I implore people to stop looking for even more
reasons to despise the government for all the mistakes that they
have surely made and to start mourning the human tragedy that is
playing out here, instead. Start thinking with your heart, not with
your head.

“Blessed
are those who mourn.”

If
you are a libertarian, do what libertarianism demands: Depend NOT
on government for what you should do yourself. Help your neighbor.
The very existence of civilization depends on how we treat our fellows
in our darkest moments. If you do not know who your neighbor is,
I can tell you. He is the man next to you, and the man 1000 miles
from you. He is every man you ever see and every man you will never
see.

Do
you have an extra bedroom? Call up your local Red Cross office,
or the diocese of your local church, or your pastor, or even your
guru, and let them know that you are willing to help house refugees.
Please do not consign them to the care of bureaucrats in refugee
camps. But don’t just give them beds. Feed them, love them, and
help them find work. Help them start over. Help them remember that
in the midst of something so awful, that their lives can be graced
by goodness.

“Blessed
are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

Cry
mercy.

September
5, 2005

Elizabeth
Bernard Higgs [send her mail]
is currently staying with her mother in Lafayette, LA, with all
her pets and her children.

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