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.”
September 5, 2005