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    « When You Get a "Q" without a "U" | Main | Immersion »

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    maria

    Oooh boy, does your post and that question stir up a lot of stuff for me. My
    temptation is to just be politically correct and keep it all to myself, but
    since you asked :-)

    * I noticed that I felt really angry last week when so much of the TV coverage I
    saw was about 'cornering' the officials who were on TV into pointing fingers at
    another official or organization, or about admitting blame themselves. I feel
    like we are such a 'blame-oriented' culture, especially at times like this. Of
    course there is a time to learn about how well the response and our actions
    worked (or didn't), in a certain spirit of improvement, but I felt angry at the
    stations because I thought it would have been a much better use of the airwaves,
    instead of what they did, to use the time to air brief video messages of people
    letting others know they were alive, or of people searching for loved ones, etc.

    * I noticed that someone accused a blogger I read daily of doing a 'flyover' on
    the hurricane, too, and that it stirred up an incredible firestorm in the
    comments, with people taking sides on both camps of the fence. I noticed that
    when someone chastised the person who wrote the first comment, and wrote, 'I
    just hate judgmental people,' I had to laugh at the irony, and notice my own
    judgments about it, too, and how it's a never-ending loop. I noticed that it is
    SO very much in my nature to abhor conflict and seek harmony at all costs ...
    that conflict makes me very uncomfortable ... that I see it as being so very
    unnecessary and a total waste of time because life is so short and precious ...
    but I also notice how that philosophy can be my own form of a cop-out in certain
    situations.

    * I noticed (and continue to notice) that it makes me really angry when I hear
    comments like, 'this shouldn't happen in America,' or, 'these are Americans ...
    this shouldn't happen to Americans,' or, 'we're the wealthiest nation in the
    world and we should take better care of our own,' and all the variations on that
    theme. I know what people are trying to say, but it makes me angry because I
    think, ' ... but why SHOULDN'T it happen in America? Do we think we're exempt
    from this kind of disaster? It *shouldn't* happen anywhere, but it does, because
    we are not almighty after all, even if we want to think we can be.' What about
    the thousands of people that die every single day in Africa, or in other parts
    of the world? Why aren't we up in arms about that ... going on TV and demanding
    that something be done about that? The comments I hear make me feel like some
    people are saying or implying that the lives of people outside America are less
    valuable somehow.

    * I noticed that some people expressed embarrassment about what the rest of the
    world will think (or thinks) of America now ... and I think, maybe the rest of
    the world should finally realize that there are poor people in America, that
    America is not perfect and that there are social issues here ... and that not
    every American is rich or arrogant.

    * On that theme, I noticed that when I read comments on other blogs that painted
    a broad brush of 'Americans' as being too self-absorbed or 'comfy in their
    consumer-driven lifestyles,' that I got really angry ... that I was sure those
    people wouldn't like it if someone made a comment about how 'all _______ (inset
    their nationality, etc.) are ________.' Any time a group of people is lumped
    under one adjective, it feels so detrimental to all of us ... like it brings
    everyone down to a lower level. I get angry at some of the media coverage
    overseas that doesn't paint a balanced picture, and that some people then form
    their opinions about Americans as a group (or other ethnic groups) on that. I
    was not born in the U.S., but have lived here for 35 years now, having moved
    here when I was 8, and perhaps that has shaped a different or more inclusive
    worldview for me, but I notice that 'nationalistic' comments of any kind really
    stir stuff up for me. I want to shout, 'People, wake up! There's only one race
    ... the human race ... and unless we get that and stand for each other,
    regardless of nationality, etc., we're missing the boat!' I notice that I can
    love and cherish this country and the freedoms it supports, and still hold that
    broader view that we are all important, regardless of what country we call home
    ... that the two thoughts are not mutually exclusive. I hope I live to see more
    of the man-made walls that keep us separated come down in my lifetime.

    * I noticed (or perceived) that when people were criticizing the rescue efforts
    last week, that I didn't hear anyone say, 'hey, let's not be critical of them
    ... these people are out there working hard and they need all of our support
    right now, and criticizing them will only demoralize them' ... which is what
    some people say about our troops in Iraq. I wondered why that was.

    * I noticed that some of the views expressed last week had an undercurrent of
    believing that it's the government's responsibility to take care of us and that
    no matter what happens, they should make everything okay again ASAP, like a
    parent with a child. I noticed that it seemed to shake some people's foundations
    and stir up really deep fears about safety and wellbeing ... that if it's not
    the government's job to make everything okay, or that if they can't, then what?
    That thought seems to leave some people totally really shaken (not the word I'm
    looking for, exactly, but as close as I can find).

    * I noticed that I am feeling more ungrounded about all this this week than last
    week ... and that it's harder to work and keep my focus. Perhaps last week the
    scales were tipped more towards the anger I was feeling at all of the above, and
    to the 'big picture' view of the disaster, and this week, the stories are down
    on the ground, and really personal, and it breaks my heart to see or read about
    what people are going through. I noticed that I could not make myself turn off
    the TV or change the channel, either.

    * I noticed that when I imagined the possibility of ever having to evacuate our
    home and face the possibility of never going back, that there were very few
    physical possessions I would really feel compelled to take ... besides us and
    the dogs, it comes down to my computer, my digital camera, a few important
    papers, perhaps some pictures, and some clothes to get by for a while. I noticed
    that this is all in theory, and that I have NO idea whatsoever what it would
    really feel like, or how I would respond ... that it's so much easier in the
    abstract, always, and that I might in fact discover that I'm actually a lot more
    attached to my stuff than I perceive myself to be (and even though I work at
    that detachment) ... but that that's no reason to not think about it or prepare
    for the possibility, even if only mentally.

    * I noticed that alongside the destruction and devastation, and the 'worst' of
    human behavior, there is also incredible kindness, compassion, and love. There
    is immeasurable courage and goodwill and caring. People donating money,
    volunteering at shelters, opening their homes, taking time to listen to the
    stories, leading fundraising efforts, etc. I notice that unless I put as much
    focus on that, and on all the miracles there are to be found in my own
    day-to-day life, I can be completely overtaken by my own grief and sadness, and
    that it's a tough balance to keep some days.

    * I notice that I want to do more, and not just for this event, but all the
    time, in whatever small ways or big ways I can, because as you wrote, it's not
    only about responding like this when crisis hits ... there is crisis every day
    in so many people's lives, in so many places ... and that when things like this
    happen, I always hope that a little bit of the experience seeps into the
    collective consciousness so that maybe we can live our everyday lives from a
    different place from then on ... a little more like we live when we are
    responding to a crisis ... more sensitive, more patient, more understanding,
    more compassionate in our day-to-day dealings ... because it's so easy to go
    back to sleep after the crisis passes.

    * I notice that I'm really grateful you asked :-), and that I hope I didn't
    offend anybody (though I probably did), and if so, I apologize. These are just
    my views, and I tried to share them respectfully, because I think there is space
    for that, and a way to do it so that we can all be elevated by this. I hope
    others will post theirs, as well.

    Jodee

    I think Carol's original post and Maria's comment here are probably the most
    inclusive, heartfelt, and articulate statements I could ever hope to read
    regarding Katrina. Everything I've been thinking and feeling over the past
    couple of weeks (and things I haven't been able to articulate) are right here.

    I sing with a Sweet Adeline chorus in Minneapolis and our annual convention and
    competition (and this is our 60th Anniversary celebration) was scheduled for
    October 4-8 in New Orleans with the big events scheduled for the SuperDome and
    Hyatt, so we've all been caught up in the emotions of the catastrophe coupled
    with our own concerns about where our convention would be held. We have a Yahoo
    group set up and so many of the e-mails that flew by during that first week were
    about our convention - "what will we do now?" "How will we find another venue so
    quickly?" and so on.

    It was interesting to observe these comments and see how really removed we can
    become from the reality and gravity of the situation when we've got our own
    needs, and then the guilt that arises from articulating our needs over our
    compassion, heartbreak, sympathy, and whatever other emotions we're also
    feeling. There were at least an equal number of those comments as well - in
    addition to many ideas for fundraisers for the victims and other creative ways
    to help and support them. It's just interesting to note which came up first.

    Thank you so much Carol and Maria for so eloquently and emotionally saying what
    I wish I would have been able to articulate.

    Love and light to you both.

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