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Whatever Katrina may or may not imply about God's will, one would think that one thing we should have learned from it is humility. Instead, the great trumpets of hubris blow. "Bush is responsible for this by not signing the Kyoto accords." "Bush is responsible for this because he didn't plan enough." "Bush is responsible for this because. . ."

What is more to the point is something that I think we all need to take a heart-felt lesson about. Nature is big, savage, uncaring, and uncontrollable. Yes, we can continue to learn how to control. Yes, we can make better contingency plans. But when we do plan for that emergency, what natural disaster will there be that we have somehow overlooked. To suggest that we need to prepare for every conceivable emergency is to bind all the planning folks up in years of work that will have vanishingly small returns. Yes, let's make our plans for the coming Tsunami in Kansas. Yes, let's plan for the Earthquake in Florida.

What plans can you make that will address the devastation IF and when the New Madrid Fault let's go again. Last time it happened the Mississippi river ran backward in its channel for three days. On the day of the event churchbells were run by the waves as far away as Quebec.

We can plan until we turn blue in the face, but there are some contingencies, some things that we ought to have planned for that we will overlook.

I'll grant you, it is the height of misplanning for the local officials to have never considered the possibility of a category 4 or 5 storm (levees were bult to withstand a 3) making direct or close hit on a city on average twenty feet below sea-level. Those of us who are states' rights advocate do well to insist upon state responsibilities. It is the responsibility of the state to have planned, prepared for, and seen to the disaster. It is the responsibility of the Federal Government and all of the rest of us to assist when, despite all good planning things go awry. But to maintain that it is the Federal Government's responsibility to somehow have made these plans for Louisiana is overstepping the bounds of what the government should be responsible for.

Now, let me also make clear that I do not hold the government of Louisiana completely at fault. Yes, the contingency of a larger hurricane should have been considered long ago. But let's say that it was and that preparations had been made that prevented the levees from breaking but resulted in some other tremendous unforeseen difficulty.

My main point is that whether or not this is a "chastisement," it should be viewed as an object lesson in humility. Though modernism teaches us to think the world, and more, of ourselves and our abilities, the reality is that we are very, very small compared with the forces that drive nature. This is a horrifying, humbling catastrophe. I pray for those who were harmed by it, and I do what I can to help. But I also see it as a lesson in who we are before God. We think we can do all things, with or without Him who strengthens us. The reality is that on our own we are flawed, imperfect, and incapable.

Yes, more could/should have been done. But pay attention to the first lesson--we are not at the helm and we are not in control. We are pushed around by every stray breeze and drown in even a puddle of water. We are small, weak, and inefficient. It's a good thing to remember when we are tempted to think that "If Prez. Bush only did that, If the Guv'ner of Looseiana only did this. . ."

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This may not be the "right" place for this comment but, I need to vent. Why is Bush taking blame???? Is he confused about whether or not he is God? This is all over the top!

Dear Katherine,

I think we must understand that Bush is taking blame for the part that was under his control--i.e., how quickly the federal government responded--getting the Army Corps of Engineers in, etc. Admittedly important, but certainly not the cause of the catastrophe, even if it were the cause of more suffering.

The Governor of Louisiana and the Mayor of New Orleans ought to be taking their fair share as well. Given their more immediate involvement, I would place that somewhat higher than Bush's responsibility. Nevertheless, it is good to admit our failings and to make adjustments to the system for a more rapid response the next time something similar happens.

In the mean time, the blame game should stop and we should be in the business of slleviating suffering to the greatest extent possible. I know we're playing both at once, but somehow I'd like to hear less mea culpa and more about what is being done and where we all fit in to reach a solution.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 13, 2005 4:53 PM.

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