I Wonder

It has been difficult to not want to spend every hour immersed in whatever media I can access to learn more about the tragic after effects of Katrina. To go about my normal daily routine when so many people may not have any sense of normalcy in their lives for so long almost seems offensive.

Thinking about all that I have seen and read has left me wondering.

I wonder what impression of America tourists from outside the US who have been stranded by the hurricane will take home with them.

I wonder why television networks so inappropriately create graphics, themes, and melodramatic voiceovers for every major tragedy as if they were staging the next blockbuster Broadway musical.

I wonder why so many of the national political leaders came to their major media appearances equipped with little more than sound byte platitudes when every agonizing moment demands nothing more than their compassion, empathy, and leadership.

I wonder if people will ever learn that when they hoard a commodity that has a rumored short-term potential supply problem they then create the very problem they were trying to avoid and increase the likelihood of the shortfall lasting longer than it otherwise might have.

I wonder if the pain at the pump might actually create some long-term behavioral change in the wasteful ways many people use our natural resources.

I wonder what must go through the minds of people who seize upon a disaster to take not lifesaving provisions like food, water, and clothing, but guns, electronics, and other valuables.

I wonder why some people speak so indignantly that the rest of the world has not come to our aid and match the United States’ contributions to the tsunami relief effort. I wonder why they see these situations through the lens of even exchanges as opposed to “each according to his means.”

I wonder why a predictable response to so many difficult situations like this is to sponsor a charity concert or special event. I don’t wonder about the genuinely good intentions of the people who want to help, but I wonder if we will ever engage in the collective action that will be required to eliminate the need for telethons and spectacle events.

I wonder how my generally strong sense of optimism and self-assuredness would respond if I was forced to board a bus with only the clothes on my back and be transported to a city where I did not know what future would await.

I wonder what potentially inappropriate metaphors I have used in my public speaking and have I ever made people cringe the way I saw others react when Katrina was compared to Hiroshima, a comparison that potentially might be visually accurate but could not be more different in terms of the reasons for the actual destruction.

I wonder if I will ever develop the tolerance for religious groups whose convictions cause them to see circumstances like this as God’s way of punishing our country on behalf of those of us who are gay or lesbian or those who believe in a woman’s right to choose.

I wonder if developing such tolerance is a worthwhile ambition.

I wonder if the reports of conditions in the New Orleans Convention Center can possibly be accurate as I can’t imagine how a designated evacuation facility could essentially be left without any support or government leadership.

I wonder if local, state, and national leaders will have the conviction to do a thorough, transparent, and brutally honest examination of their efforts ... not to assess blame, but to capture all of the lessons learned in order to ensure that things will be handled even more efficiently and effectively should such a tragedy strike again.

I wonder if I am to naïve to hope for such a review and I wonder if the true learning will gradually be lost in politically orchestrated blue ribbon commissions and task forces.

I wonder why the country to which I pledge allegiance can still allow such dramatic socioeconomic segregation so that catastrophic disasters like this disproportionately affect people of one race.

I wonder what other people are wondering.