Friday, August 27, 2010

Katrina Benefited the Rich??

Opening line in today's "Daily Beast" story on the 5th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina:
"Like so many other storylines of Hurricane Katrina, the tale of New Orleans’ recovery diverges for affluent whites and low-income blacks. According to a story in today’s Washington Post, “For people who were well-off before the storm, they are more likely to be back in their homes, back in their jobs and to have access to good health care,” said one leading advocate. “For those who were poor or struggling to get by before the storm, the opposite is true.”

“Earlier this month, Louisiana's program to hand out grants to property owners whose holdings were damaged by the hurricane was found to discriminate against black homeowners.

“In Mississippi, low-income, uninsured homeowners were hurt by a decision to refuse rebuilding grants to property owners who suffered wind damage. And a recent survey found that African-Americans in New Orleans are more than twice as likely to believe they have not yet recovered from Katrina.

A few thoughts about this spin on an already sad story:

1.) Shut up. If you keep telling people they’re mistreated, have been taken advantage of, and are poor, then what else are they supposed to believe?

Was the response to Katrina anything anyone could be proud of?
Were there heroes in that storm?
Where's the balance?

2.) Typically, if you were poor before the storm--or any other calamity like a Cat-5 Hurricane, most likely you’re poor afterwards. Some who were rich became poor because of the storm. That’s why such natural disasters are called disasters.

To presume that Hurricane Katrina made the rich richer, or that the rich were less-affected by the storm than were the poor is ludicrous. Those who were well-off might have had the advantage of being able to afford insurance coverage better than those who could not afford insurance before the storm...but I don't recall the storm surge discriminating between the houses of the rich vs the poor.

Look at it this way--who lost more in the storm: 
The poor who had little, or the rich who had much?

3.) I am sick and tired of the National Media making hay out of this story and continuing to perpetuate the ill-feelings, negative spin, and class-envy angles of the Hurricane Katrina.

Where’s the Ike coverage? Is Houston going to get as much play on the 3rd Anniversary of Hurricane Ike? I think not--because in Houston and Galveston and around Texas, we got our acts together and did what had to be done.

Some are still suffering from the ridiculous bureaucratic foot-dragging, which was similarly sloth-like after Katrina.

I heard a term that was allegedly being applied to Katrina Survivors still living in Houston--Katrician’s.  
Where did that come from? I never heard “Katrician” before listening to the National media nerds.

Shame on the media for sensationalizing what was already a tragic story.
Shame on the media for focusing on the negative instead of the progress that has been achieved by these communities.
Shame on the media in general for sacrificing Balance on the altar of higher ratings and greater circulation numbers.

Seth Godin’s blog this morning contains an excellent coda to my thoughts on this topic: 
He calls it a “Blizzard of Noise:”

"As the amount of inputs go up, as the number of people and ideas that clamor for attention continue to increase, we do what people always do: we rely on the familiar, the trusted and the personal.

The experience I have with you as a customer or a friend is far more important than a few random bits flying by on the screen. The incredible surplus of digital data means that human actions, generosity and sacrifice are more important than they ever were before."
(My underline for emphasis of this point.)

Those are the stories I want to hear, and the stories I want to tell you.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On Defining Marriage

I am marrying my niece this weekend.

Please let me clarify that for all of you who do not reside in Arkansas, or are not in the lineage of Jerry Lee Lewis: I will be officiating at the marriage of my sweet niece and a fine, young man who has smitten her heart. This will be a first for me…and for them.

Marriage has been in the news a lot lately, for all the wrong reasons by my judgment.  A federal judge struck down a ban in the State of California against same-sex marriages—one of the few places on earth you’d expect that kind of thing to fly. 
Don’t know about same-sex cousins.

There is a phrase in the wedding ceremony I’ll be performing, which is key to the understanding of the foundation of marriage—what it is, and what it is not—or should not—be:  “…an institution by God structured, by Christ endorsed, by the Holy Spirit instructed, and declared by inspiration to be honorable in the sight of all men.” 
You cannot use that phrase when attempting a same-sex marriage…which, by the way, is a bit of an oxymoron: Marriage, by definition a union, is impossible between same-sexes. Contemporary dictionaries already list as “obsolete” the definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and that’s wrong. 

The first recorded marriage was arranged: The man fell asleep and a woman was crafted from his spare parts. True story. In fact, the very word, “woman” means “taken out of man” in the Hebrew translations of the account in Genesis 2.

(If you refuse to believe the Bible account of The Creation, you really need not read any further; my beliefs are predicated upon a reading of all parts of that book, and my conviction that it is the inspired Word of God. Yes, the whole thing, not just the convenient parts.)

There is a phrase in the marriage ceremony that specifically addresses this: “Woman was never intended to be man’s slave, but his helper; nor was man intended to be woman’s oppressor, but her protector. Not from man’s head was she taken, lest she be his ruler, nor from his feet, lest she become his drudge.”

I am especially fond of this passage, “…from Man’s side was Woman taken, that she might be his equal; from near his heart that she might be loved by him; and from under his arm that he might protect and preserve her…” 

That clod sitting this week in the bleachers near the Astro’s foul line (who ducked a foul ball which struck his girlfriend) would do well to ponder that point. 
So would she.

These thoughts have been swirling in my head this week as I prepare for my first marriage ceremony…standing on the other side of the altar. My first wedding in front of the altar has withstood troubles and trials for the past 31-years. 
Guess it’s going to stick. 
Hope my niece’s first wedding is her last.