September 07, 2005

"Sooner or later comes a crisis in our affairs, and how we meet it determines our future happiness and success. Since the beginning of time, every form of life has been called upon to meet such crisis." - Robert Collier
There have been lots of discussions, finger pointing, politics and actions, which were triggered by the news and images of the waterlogged New Orleans and the victims of Katrina the world saw. The MSM & the blogosphere have been equally active to dissect every bit of the problem. Many plunged into thoughts of depression and societal self-loathing.

The New York Times Oped columnist Bob Herbert says "Its a failure of leadership". Maureen Dowd blames the government and asks "Who are we if we can't take care of our own?". Nicholas D. Christof thinks that the larger shame is the growing poverty in US. "The U.S. government - particularly under the Bush administration - has systematically cut people out of the social fabric by redistributing wealth from the most vulnerable Americans to the most affluent."

American Blogger Douglas Rushkoff adds:

"What those who are afraid of civil society breaking down don't realize is that civil society has already broken down! This is not a civil society we live in, but a profiteering, every-man-for-himself, oligarchy. The democratic process is broken if not rigged; the largest-ever redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich occurred over the last six years under the guise of economic stimulus; fear and disinformation were used to put the poorest of Americans onto a battlefield under false pretenses."

Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine rebuts Rushkoff's claims:

Yes, Katrina brought out and worsened injustices and inequities. It exposed government incompetence. But it also inspired courage, care, concern, generosity and humanity. And I would say that the outrage the country showed over those injustices and failures were the very proof of our civil order.

People like Jarvis are positive minded and are prompt to come up with ideas like Recovery 2.0 which aims to be ready for the next disaster so people can better use the internet via any device to better:
1. share information,
2. report and act on calls for help,
3. coordinate relief,
4. connect the missing,
5. provide connections for such necessities as housing and jobs,
6. match charitable assets to needs,
7. get people connected to this and the world sooner.

And there is nothing wrong in feeling ashamed of something not done right because that is a human virtue. Only animals do not feel ashamed. The important thing is what measure we take to prevent such shame in future. Many of the time we tend to ignore what we can do for our country and clutch to the anticipation what our country can do to us. So the onus is on each individual as a part of the civil society. It remains to be seen what the Americans do to reduce the growing injustice and inequities in their society.

"Shame and guilt are noble emotions essential in the maintenance of civilized society, and vital for the development of some of the most refined and elegant qualities of human potential."



Post a Comment