Several of my friends and relatives are in the midst of life-altering events as we speak. My brother and uncle live in Biloxi, Mississippi and survived Hurricane Katrina, and I dig into the disaster below. Also, two of my friends are about to undergo life-changing events that will hopefully transform their lives. Often, we hit a crossroads without even realizing it, and the choices we make at that fork in the road sometimes reshape our lives in ways we do not imagine. I speak with the weight of wisdom, but yet I cannot preach to my friends what's best for them. Rather, I lend just a little bit of sound advice as they turn loose on the world and make their life-changing decision.
The first friend is contemplating moving to one of two cities- New York or Miami. The second friend might rekindle a former passion for the arts. I have known one for many years, and the other for only a few months. Yet, I hope to grow closer to both of them, as I care for them deeply, and I hope they find true happiness in their own special ways. I know that since I have returned to playing the piano, I have achieved a new level of happiness. I will be performing on a frequent basis in the coming years, as I know that allowing others to enjoy music that I play and connect with me completely satisfies me like nothing else.
The Emotional Quotient
Leaders all know that in the midst of a crisis, they must always maintain total control of their emotions. For without this control, the morale of their minions-- or in this case, their citizens-- will collapse. A.J. Holloway, the mayor of Biloxi, MS, played his part well, refusing to submit to hopelessness, even when spotting Biloxi's casinos ripped to shreds, a few tossed across Highway 90, and a few that were simply missing! But when Holloway and his wife rushed to the Southern Memorial Gardens near the beach, where his father is buried, he quickly discovered that the entire mausoleum was gone. He emerged from the gardens in tears.
Sometimes, even the bravest of leaders break down amid the devastation. I have a feeling that I would probably lose my composure too, even if only for a minute. But elsewhere in Biloxi, Gulfport, Bay St. Louis, Pascagoula, there is nothing left for many to do but to weep and mourn. Unfortunately, in New Orleans, there is a different kind of emotional discontinuity. Anger, homicidal rage, and paranoia threaten the image of the city, and consequently, the image of Americans in general. I feel a great deal of empathy for what all of the storm refugees are going through, but I will not allow myself to become enraged over the events of the past few days. To sit here and toss anger and resentment at the unscrupulous few who are raping, murdering, and attacking relief personnel will not help me or anyone else. Yet, I overhear people clamoring about how the looters and rapists should just be shot. Again, this kind of twisted redneck approach is much like the very mentality that started the unrest to begin with.
Our "supreme" leader, President Bush, has once again thoroughly disappointed me. But instead of wishing death upon the lawbreakers, or loathing our administration for not intervening in New Orleans' crisis fast enough, I have been donating money to the American Red Cross. Nearly all of what we donate is funneled precisely to the areas where it is needed the most. If you have not yet donated at least some pocket change to the relief efforts, please go out and find a Red Cross donation center. Most Starbucks coffee shops will accept donations right at the cash register, and the cashiers will give you a receipt. Here's my most recent donation, shown at the right. This is my second $50.00 donation, and I still do not feel like it is enough. I wish that I could donate everything I bought over the past month to hurricane victims. How snobbish of us to just go about our merry ways, failing to adjust our shopping habits during a crisis like this. I scrapped my classical music CD budget for the entire month, and I'm also going to redirect all that money to the American Red Cross.
|Ahhh, a Serotonin Release|
For over one million Americans, Hurricane Katrina was a life-altering event that, among other things, tested just how well each and every one of them are able to control their emotions and begin rebuilding their life. For many of the homeless and displaced in Mississippi and Louisiana, the trauma is overwhelming-- particularly if a victim's spouse also died, or if he/she witnessed a murder or rape during the past few days. But personal willpower can overcome the worst catastrophes of nature. I honestly wish I was there to help; not only to deliver food and water, but also to smile, take someone's hand, and promise them that their life will now change for the better.
Speaking of life-altering events, my uncle also suffered a loss in Biloxi. He owns two houses in Gulfport/Biloxi that sustained heavy damage, and our family is still awaiting reports of the fate of his life's work. My brother is a Casino worker in Gulfport, and obviously his life has now been uprooted. But above all else, they are alive and safe, and since they survived, anything is possible. Whatever path my relatives take, with a little patience, they will prosper once again.
One day, we unprepared folks in San Francisco may be dragged through the worst kind of catastrophe-- the kind that strikes with no warning. It's no wonder that we tend to give generously to disaster relief efforts. For the sake of disaster relief, San Franciscans tend not to pass judgment, and we tend to sympathize with everyone equally. We keep abreast of unfolding events to lend a hand wherever we can, for someday, we may ask for the same.
(By Daniel Culveyhouse | See the 5 comments | comment here)