Thursday, June 26, 2008

Post No. 20: Water is Water, Isn't It?

Water is Water, Isn’t It?

© 2008, The Institute for Applied Common Sense

All of us recall, in some manner unique to each of us, the tragedy that was, and continues to be, Katrina. We all watched hours of news coverage, with reporters riding in boats and helicopters, and observed many a rescue from a roof top. That was three years ago this August, and we still have media and political commentators mentioning it frequently.

During the past couple of weeks, we watched the citizens of Iowa and Missouri deal with epic flooding. In fact, just this past week a nationally recognized meteorologist explained why this event was termed “the 500 year flood,” and summarized the evidence and records from the past that permitted us to characterize this event as such.

In Post No. 19, entitled Katrina, Iowa Style, after noting that President Bush, during his visit to Iowa last week, indicated that he was not unmindful of the ways in which FEMA could have been more responsive to the events of Katrina, the following questions were posed on this blog about the federal government’s response to the Iowa flooding:

1. Three years from now, do you think that America will have done a better job of responding to events in Iowa than it did in responding to Katrina?

2. What factors have you taken into consideration in arriving at your position?

3. Are there differences between Louisiana and Iowa which will contribute to the differing responses?

4. How significant will the difference be?

5. Will America have repaired all of the physical damage in Iowa within three years?

6. Within three years, will China have reconstructed the lives of a larger percentage of the people affected by their earthquake, than America will have reconstructed the lives of the people in Iowa affected by the flooding?

7. Three years from now (i.e., six years post-Katrina), will there still be citizens of Louisiana, affected by Katrina, whose basic needs still have not been addressed?

All of us, before formulating judgments about anything in the world of current events, should probably take the time to gather our facts, conduct a little research, and even check our history books to ensure that our judgments are well founded and not tainted by bias. Despite an effort to be objective, something still seemed different about Katrina versus Iowa. Was it due to the media coverage, or lack thereof? Did the differences in population density have a different effect on us? Perhaps the different topography, or the rescue methods employed, provided a difference sense of tragedy.

Should you switch to CNN, Fox News, or MSNBC right now, you probably will not find coverage of the Iowa and Missouri flooding. Did we somehow become emotionally numb in light of the coverage of the intervening South Pacific tsunami and the Chinese earthquake? Why hasn’t there been as much discussion about class distinctions, and why haven’t the politicians attacked the local parties and elected officials in control with the same zeal as we saw three years ago? Has anyone tallied up the number of levees that have failed during the past two weeks, as contrasted to those that failed during Katrina?

Did Katrina occur during a slow news week? Why have we talked more about the flip flops by the presumptive presidential candidates for each party? Are the flip flops more important to us as a society than the impact of Mother Nature on the lives of the citizens of the two states? Who decides what is more important to be covered, and thus shapes our view of “current events?” Did New Orleans’ moral complexity contribute to our fascination with the events there? Have any ministers suggested that the citizens of Iowa and Missouri are being punished by God for their immoral behavior?

This is complex stuff, as are all news events. Are you at as much as much of a loss as I am with respect to trying to compare these two “Acts of God?”

© 2008, The Institute for Applied Common Sense

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