Sunday, September 11, 2005

Our debate to have

I was going to post this as a comment, but it got so big so fast I decided to hell with it.
If all you are doing is complaining or, even better, wasting time complaining about complaining, that's a problem. Hell, yes.
Still, I doubt that anyone who regularly posts on, or even reads, this blog has failed to give money, at the very least. I suppose it is possible though. So...
If you still haven't given anything or done anything to help, and you have any money or time, don't be a jerk. These folks are in terrible shape.

However:
To say we should wait until the urgency has passed to assign credit and blame where they are due assumes a luxury we do not have. It assumes that right now, when over a million people are displaced and something like $100 billion worth of property lies in ruins, the same people who royally screwed up during the first days of this catastrophe will suddenly get on the ball without anybody forcing them to do so. It assumes that those currently in charge have the wisdom, the information, and the inclination to solve what problems lie immediately at hand. And it assumes, most irritatingly, that those who are “on the scene” have both the ability and the access to speak for themselves, which many of them do not. They are without the means. They are without the energy. And they damn well want and need someone to do it for them.

In Memphis, we have more than 25,000 refugees, at last count. Not much compared to some places, but a bunch of people to feed, clothe, house, and educate in a hurry. Until Friday, when many passionate “complainers” got together and made a hell of a lot of noise, we had exactly five, count them five, Red Cross Caseworkers in the entire Memphis area. No aid, aside from acute medical care, could be distributed without each person speaking to one of those 5. All week these refugees (the only ones with any right to speak, apparently) have been too busy spending all day in line outside in 100+ heat waiting to get their name on a list and to be told “come back in three days and not before then.”

It’s easy to criticize me or any of the other complaining “Monday morning quarterbacks,” but, before you do, let me remind you: we complainers are the ones staffing the lines, the ones giving our money, our time, our energy.
We are also the ones who see the system spectacularly failing, and say: We have to stand up now. We all have to make these points Now. Because people need the help Now, Today.

Thankfully in America, when you complain loudly enough, for long enough, the Powers that Be listen and make changes, if only because they fear for their jobs and reputations.

So, as someone a lot closer to the ground than UGA law, I say: Let the debates continue. Any one who wants to wait till the ground has settled and there are no more serious consequences for being wrong or right can get out of the damned pool.

No comments: