Okay, part of the reason it’s taken me so long to write another blog entry is the feeling that I must write the requisite Katrina blog, which in my opinion is a little like writing the requisite Shakespeare paper at this point. I mean, really, what new thing could I possibly have to say.
“You can always just point to another blog” my friend and fellow blogger/writer, Clark told me at an alumnae gathering last Thursday. I sighed and supposed he was right.
But recently, I’ve begun to realize that the other part of the reason I haven’t posted is because I want to write about Katrina . . . and I actually needed time to gather my thoughts.
Now this is difficult to admit.
The importance of gathering thoughts is a bit of a lost art in America. I often feel we have a contrary relationship with . . . you know . . . thinking.
For example, people who have an immediate answer for everything often come off as clever and intelligent. These are the people who get invited back on Bill Maher. One of the things I admire most about my best friend Monique is that she has an answer for everything – and it’s usually the right one. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time it was the wrong one.
On the other hand, when you put your foot in your mouth, one of the first questions that come to mind is “Why didn’t I think before I spoke.”
I was once told by my English teacher and mentor that staying silent and thinking about your next words is always better than saying, “Um.”
On the other hand, even I’m impressed and more likely to be convinced by a person who speaks succinctly, eloquently and without pause.
My own speaking style doesn’t help things. As most people who have actually met me will tell you, a conversation with me is a bit like talking to a new-age Faulkner novel with a bunch of “kind of situations,” marked by rambling trail-offs.
If I do stop to think before talking, I am usually mad. If I stop to think and then say something succinctly and eloquently and without pause, I am really, really mad.
That all being said, I’ll let you decide what kind of mood I was in when I was writing this entry.
First of all, I would just like to say that George Bush is an idiot. His performance during Katrina alone, proves that he’s guilty of crippling inaction, cronyism, and that he cares little about this country’s poor, unless it effects his approval ratings. He’s not smart, he’s not nice, and he doesn’t deserve the presidency. I just want to make that clear.
The only people more to blame than President Bush for the terrible things that happened in the aftermath of Katrina are . . .
Well . . .
Us. Yes, I said us.
Bush may be an idiot, but at least he hasn’t made a donation to Red Cross and called it a day.
Listen, I include myself in this condemnation. There are a million things I believe in, and probably about 0 things I actually fight for these days.
I’ve become overly fond of saying:
“I’m so frustrated . . .”
“I feel so helpless . . .”
“It’s like, ‘What can you do?’”
“If it were up to me [this, this, or that complete social reformation] would happen.”
And then doing nothing.
But lately, I’ve noticed some rather disturbing trends in the American dialogue on Katrina:
“If you can just dig into your pocket . . .”
“Seeing those people down there just makes me so grateful for what I have.”
“Here’s what you can do to help the Katrina victims . . .” – this is usually followed by a request for food, money, or other usable goods.
Not that food and money aren’t important. But lack of food and money aren’t what hurt those Katrina victims the most. Lack of forethought, progressive social programs, and priorities are what got them to that SuperDome.
And here’s what you can really do to help the Katrina victims:
Make a donation to whoever, and then . . .
1. Call or write to your representative, demanding that your city has a valid evacuation plan in case of a disaster.
2. Make sure the next guy you support for any position in government has global warming on the agenda. In my opinion, global warming is something almost every intelligent American believes to be a true threat, and we’ve let our representatives get away with not addressing it for too long.
3. Do your research. Know who your city and state officials are (mayor, governer, representatives, and senator) and what they support in your name. Even if you did not vote for them, write at letter to someone every month, letting them know what your positions are on bills and social reforms you care about.
4. Read and form opinions.
5. Travel outside the country whenever you can. Don’t assume that the American way is the best way. We’re the richest country on earth – not the best. Decide what your perfect country would be like, socially and politically – and work towards that.
Last and most important:
6. Know what you believe in and support it. Identify the five things you care most about and focus your money and energy on them. Then re-evaluate every year to make sure these beliefs are still valid. Start today.
Here’s my list for Sept. 2005 – Sept. 2006
1.Socialized Health Insurance in America
2. Global Warming
3. Gay Rights (especially the right to marry)
4. Interstellar Space Travel
5. The African Plight (the war, the famine, the mistreatment of women)
There are a lot of things I believe in that didn’t make this list. For example, even in the wake of Katrina and Rita, I probably won’t be fighting to end poverty in America. That doesn’t mean that I don’t care about poverty in America – it’s just that I find 90% of the bad stuff happening in Africa about 10 times more disturbing than anything Katrina or Rita could throw at me. The fact is, I probably won’t give another dime to the hurricane victims, and the next few non-arts based donations I do make will be made to organizations that support one of the five organizations listed above. And I won’t feel bad about that.
Hey, no one said this list had to be fair – just true.
But wait a minute, Ernessa, a little voice whines in the back of my head. There are friends you haven’t managed to spend time with since auditions for Grown-Ups. How are you going to actually find time to do this? After all, you’re busy.
Well, busy is a strange phenomenon in America. I don’t think I’ve ever been to another country that respects “busy” more than we do. I mean we actually apologize to each other for taking up time.
People (including me) often use "busy" as a perfectly valid excuse to not call, not keep dates and appointments, miss entire childhoods, not read, not travel, neglect the ones we love, and/or not do the basic things that keep us from being completely selfish human beings.
In fact, we often award busy people for making time for us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been greeted with hugs and kisses after a long absence as opposed to the “Don’t let this happen again” that I know I deserve. Actually, some of my closest friends are the ones that don’t let me get away with the "busy" excuse.
Often, I feel that Americans have a weird paradox of demanding too much and too little of ourselves. We work to hard at our jobs, and don’t put enough work into our passions. My undergrad asks me for more and more money I don’t necessarily have every year, but rarely asks me for my time.
There are hundreds of organizations spending massive amounts of time and energy to gather donations for Katrina victims right now, and I guarantee you when they get their thank you notes, the words “Thank you for your donation” will come before “Thank for your time and effort” – if those words even come at all.
So the better part of myself is asking me to “dig a little deeper” for time – not money.
I figure if I spend an hour, just an hour a week, writing, calling, fighting and/or volunteering for the things I care about, then I’m way closer to becoming the kind of person I’ve always wanted to be – at least further ahead than last year. I mean I find at least an hour a week to watch whatever Netflix has sent me in the mail – often more. I can find an hour for this.
Right now I feel like Me, You, and Everyone We Know. Simple, really, but somehow revolutionary.
Maybe I’ll move to Montana.