A revolving calliope of hurricane Katrina's aftermath twists our guts, brings tears to our eyes and whispered prayers of thanksgiving for the safety of our own loved ones as well as hope, resources and restoration to the hundreds of thousands of people forced to flee their homes. In the wake of what it being called the worst natural disaster in America's history, there appears to be no shortage of sympathy and concern.
Predictably, a discernible shortage of resources by Louisiana's poorest segment of society, comprised primarily of blacks, left them hardest hit as they struggled to survive the category four fury imposed by Katrina. In the days that followed, New Orleans' Mayor Ray Nagin errupted in tears and volleys of cursing over the slow Federal response to a city out of control. Amongst the greatest concern were the looters who stripped many businesses of supplies such as diapers, food and drinks. However, as one newsclip showed two young black men carrying bags filled with what appeared to be shoe boxes, not all the looting was for supplies. Even worse, rival gangs began pelting the police headquarters in New Orleans where the grim sign hung: Fort Apache. For non-history buffs,
Love her or hate her, Cindy Sheehan represents what is best about democracy: the right to publicly debate the decisions made by the powers that be. But what makes her mad-mother tirade all the more poignant is that the very thing she is protesting - the war in Iraq - is being waged in the name of spreading democracy by a nation that is incapable of initiating enough passion in a vast number of voters to participate in something as simple as voting, much less participating in the process of political debate as Cindy Sheehan is doing. The critical lesson here is much less about one woman's grief and much more about the impact one passionate, driven individual can make on a nation at large. So, whether you are a student or a faculty member or an administrative official, the power to make a difference rests within your own two hands. If you care enough, that is.