Last Spring, Damien and I were in Atlanta visiting friends. We went to Little 5 Points to have lunch at the Vortex, one of our favorite restaurants. Before we walked in, there was a homeless man standing in front of a store begging or change. I had no change or cash to give him, and couldn't eat what I'd ordered. When we left the restaurant, I boxed the sandwich and fries that I hadn't even touched and took it to him. He smiled at me, thanked me, and his eyes welled up with tears. I shook his hand and told him he was very welcome. I wondered how long it had been (or if it had ever happened) that any one of us who have it to give had treated him like a human being and like they cared. I started crying in the car and D took my hand and asked me what was wrong. I told him that I didn't understand what was wrong with people, I didn't understand how I could have watched all of these people walk right past this man and no even so much as look him in the eye, let alone show a remote interest in helping him. I'm sure they can complain about what an eyesore he was, how bad he smelled, blah blah blah - that's easy. But did anyone in the time I was there have the balls to do something about it for a common good?
Maggie and I were talking the other day about opening our home up to share some of what we have with those who no longer have anything. We have posted ads on different web services about it. We have no extra money to offer, but we have love to spare and I don't mind eating PB&J and sleeping on the floor so someone else can have my bed. I have a closet full of clothes and shoes I'll be giving away, I can wear the same few things over and over until I need more. I have no problem asking local churches and wealthy business owners for help to do this. Cole and Avery can learn first hand how to appreciate what they have, how you always help out those in need if you can, and valuable life lessons in self preservation. If nothing else, we can give some of what we have - it's better than nothing. As compassionate strangers, we'll accomplish more than the inane bitching of people who would do well to know when to just shut the fuck up.
In watching televised news and reading print and online news agencies' accounts of Hurricane Katrina, I have about 2,984,591 thoughts and emotions running through my mind. It is heartbreaking what has/is/will happen(ing) on the gulf coast, I can hardly fathom it. My feelings are compounded by reactions from others, from government officials to everyday people and my anger is building. In reading and hearing/having conversations with others I find all kinds of judgments being thrown at people who stayed for whatever reason, and some of the things I'm hearing infuriate me NO END. No, of course I can find nothing redeeming about people looting plasma screen televisions and computers. It's not like they've had cause to completely lose their minds and everything they've ever owned, thinking they might be able to barter for their survival later, oh no - these are just more sorry people wanting a handout, right? There's no power, and therefore no refrigeration for the food rotting in the stores, take it while it is useful - PEOPLE ARE FUCKING DYING! "BUT THEY LOOTED THE GROCERY STORE LESS THAN 24 HOURS AFTER!!" So fucking what! If YOU find yourself surrounded by 360 of absolute devastation after surviving the trauma of nature ripping your environment away, NO power, NO drinkable water, NO relief from oppressive heat, LITTLE food available to you and no way of acquiring more for yourself and your family - and there's a Winn Dixie still standing and within walking distance, then for fuck's sake - keep your ass away, or at least out of MY way because I'll be looting food like a motherfucker and sharing it with my family and injured people who cannot help themselves. Even toys, we have children here that I'm sure will benefit from the distraction. Clothes? Bet your ass - I'm sure the feeling of dry cotton would feel pretty good. Medicine? I'll be the one looking for injured people to help until authorities arrive, so absolutely. Possibly other things, none of which I can think of just off the top of my head, but necessities and not luxury items.
These people at this point are being made to live like refugees (what an ugly word to call American citizens) by our own government who have no clue where their next meal is coming from, the majority of whom are extremely poor, homeless, sickly, or elderly that had few resources for their needs to begin with. Of COURSE they're volatile, considering the circumstances it is an appropriate emotion. I'm talking about you assholes blaming poor people for being poor and applying your own privileged logic to them like it means anything or matters in the least. YOU have regular meals, you probably have your own transportation or at least means to get from A to B, you have air conditioning and are reasonably intelligent. THIS IS NOT A NORMAL SITUATION, WHAT YOU WOULD DO OR HOW YOU WOULD HANDLE THIS SITUATION MEANS EXACTLY SHIT TO ME RIGHT NOW. There are always going to be sorry assed people taking advantage of the system, I'm not talking about them. There are always going to be poor and disenfranchised people, many with elderly families who had no means to evacuate and were not going to be left behind. And yes, NO is built below sea level, and is not really the safest place to live anyway. Fine. Consider that pretty much everything south, mostly west, and all east of Lafayette in Louisiana is all marshland/swampland anyway. But for fuck's sake, there are dead, festering, rotting bodies floating in the streets and in corners of the goddamned Superdome, next to huge piles of human shit, in the United States of America. Autopsies are being performed in parking lots out in the open, broad daylight. Police officers that aren't overwhelmed or putting bullets into their own brains are turning in their badges and saying "I have nothing left, my family, my home, and all of my possessions are GONE, there is nothing left here for me to defend." Families are being separated from one another, children and the elderly are dying on sidewalks in front of the convention center from hunger and dehydration. In the goddamned United States of America. In a city I love and have fond memories of and where I have family and friends.
Martial law was declared a few days ago in New Orleans, which blows my mind. There is a group of X people in NO shooting at cops and aid workers that need to be shot and killed on sight, so let's bring in special ops and quickly - efficiently - do the job that should have been done in Iraq with Saddam so they can get in and do their work that is so beyond desperately needed. No wait, FUCK! Bush had to cut his 5 week vacation early and the Secretary of State is spending $1000 on shoes at Ferragamo, so that's a no-go. Let's have some accountability on behalf of Governor Blanco and Mayor Nagin, neither of whom ordered water and MRE's to be sent to shelters and the Superdome BEFORE the fact, even though both have access to request such supplies from the powers that be, but again - vacation and shopping. How can otherwise intelligent and able people be so oblivious to anticipating the needs of real people? Is it because short of photo opportunities or political gain, they've never visited poverty stricken areas in their own communities nor walked among homeless people? Poor people generally don't vote, they're too busy trying to fucking get by to be concerned with politics, so there's your 'that's why'. That's left to us overindulged, fat, 'enlightened' people who bitch and complain about things and seldom do anything to truly affect change. You bitch about poor and homeless people, but offer no real solution to the problems so that they might be alleviated. To do so would prevent you from having poor people to bitch about, 'that's why' strikes again. Fuck the dead and dying in gulf coast areas, they should have evacuated, right? They're getting what they deserve, right? Who cares if they're literally starving and dying of thirst, right? Not MY problem, right?
I can see how your busy schedule of taking for granted everything you have would prevent you from giving a shit. I'm not like that and I never have been, I'm not about to start now. People are DYING, bottom line. If any of you knows or is in contact with people who need a place to stay, we can take in family of up to four. I've just left the PTA president and Assistant Principal of Cole's school, I already have registration forms if we get elementary school aged children. I hope we can find them soon and give them at least a temporary home. Please, no praise and fawning comments - we're not special, we're decent.