The disaster in along the Gulf coast, specifically New Orleans, is awing. The fact that New Orleans will be an empty city for two months is beyond my belief. I just can’t fantom something like that... and it also goes to show that no matter how rich, powerful, or ‘advanced’ you are (as a people) there is almost nothing that we can do to prevent, or even slow down, the effects of nature.
And maybe that’s why this disaster has been easier to take than say, 9/11. The death tolls look to be about the same (as I sit here right now) as that infamous day. But unlike 9/11 the devastation is worse, an entire city has been, for all intensive purposes, destroyed. And that’s just for starters, I’m sure millions are homeless. It will be months before anything is back to ‘normal’, if ever. The media coverage has been sufficient, but compared to 9/11 it’s been next to nothing. In the days that followed 9/11 every TV channel was showing the news. The networks were commercial free for days. All it was were the images of those two planes flying into the World Trade Center. And this was the coverage for days on end. And here we have a disaster, a natural disaster, impacting millions and destroying millions of people... and the media continues on as it does every day.
And I’m not blaming the media here. I think they’ve done a good job and I also think that it’s a bit difficult to ‘capture’ the Hurricane. In many ways, the further and further we get from 9/11 (it’s been almost four years) the more I begin to realize that it was the ‘perfect’ story. It was in New York. It was so unbelievable, so much so that it became surreal. It was an act of hate. It was beyond our minds or intellect. On 9/10 no one could ever think of people flying planes in to a building. It just wasn’t any where in our minds, thoughts, or scope of knowledge.
The Hurricane on the other hand is and was within our scope of knowledge. Last year I remember seeing a story on TV about what a direct hit of a hurricane could wipe out the city of New Orleans. And unfortunately it’s happened. So the ‘shock’ of the Hurricane isn’t as unbelievable as 9/11. It’s a terrible thing, one that we’ll live with and remember for the rest of our lives. But since it’s a natural disaster, we’re able in some sense to say ‘that’s what nature can do.’
But then again, why? What did these people do? It’s easier to understand ‘hate’ than it is to understand something like a natural disaster in fact. For some reason on 9/11 those men were filled with so much hate (and why or what fueled their hate isn’t very important) that they carried out those attacks. But what did the people of New Orleans or Mississippi or Alabama do to ‘deserve’ this Hurricane? How does one justify that? How does one even start to figure the reasons or try to understand how evil can take place on a scale such as that? Is it just nature being nature? Is it just something that we shrug and say, “Oh well, I hope everyone is okay?”
I think the Hurricane is much harder for us to understand, so we don’t even bother with it. There is no one or anything that we can get mad at or be reactive too. 9/11 was an act of hate and evil carried out by misguided and hateful men. We as a people and nation could react to that, we could find the people behind the attacks and punish them. Get some sort of revenge or closure to the attacks (even if we’re still looking for those people). But the Hurricane does not give us that. The Hurricane is what it is, it has occurred and we have to ‘live with it’. Our lives can continue on because it wasn’t an act of hate, it was an act of nature or at least that seems to be the rational of it all.
And here’s the important thing, I’m not comparing the two disasters or the lack or over coverage of the two events. That’s unfair to everyone from the media to the victims to those sitting at home in Seattle or some town in New Hampshire. Rather, I’m trying to figure the psychological impact of the two events.
It’s been a some what sad year so far in 2005. The Pope died, the blasts in London, the constant chipping away at our morale in Iraq, and now this Hurricane.