Hurricane Tests Our Compassion
There is undoubtedly some truth in those criticisms, but the mean tone behind the assessments disturbed me.
This is how I responded:
I get a little sad and disappointed when I see all the harsh-toned judgments being put against the victims of Hurricane Katrina. It seems to me the folks casting those harsh opinions have little or no idea of what it was like to be in the position of the victims.
How many of us have ever been residents of an entire city needing to be evacuated within hours? Do we have any idea of what it is like to be in that situation?
Yes, of course many of the victims made errors in judgment, errors that are much more obvious in retrospect, but that is usually the nature of tragedies. Many of those casting the harsh tones may get in a bind themselves one day for one reason or another and when that happens there will undoubtedly be some errors of judgment involved. Is that a good reason for onlookers to be less compassionate?
I'm not suggesting criminal activity should be tolerated or not treated strictly, but it can be addressed with compassion and without cruelty at the same time.
Fear is a great impediment to sound judgment and often leads to poor behavior. Can any of us comprehend the extent of fear that was unleashed by Hurricane Katrina and the unprecedented flooding afterward?
Imagine being herded with thousands of others into the Superdome at the government's recommendation, the doors shut, the lights go out and then in darkness the roar from outside gets louder and louder, the walls start shaking and pieces of the ceiling are sucked right through the roof and rain starts pouring in. And you are in that situation for hours. How quickly will you shake off that fear? And not even having food or water as a minimal amount of comfort.
Does anyone reading this, tucked safe in front of their computer screen have any comprehension? I believe it goes beyond the imagination of anyone not there.
It is common for onlookers of a tragedy to cast blame on the victims. I think it helps people feel more comfortable about not doing everything they can to help.
And you know what, this might offend some people, but I believe the world would be in better shape when compassion is not reserved for certain classes of people and can be shared among even those who make mistakes, even terrible mistakes.
Some who are reading this call themselves Christians. To me, being a Christian isn't about going to church or reciting verses of the Bible. it is about living life as Jesus Christ might have.
Would Jesus Christ be standing apart from the victims of this tragedy and listing all the things they did wrong and the reasons some of the victims don't deserve sympathy?
Perhaps it is us, who mercifully remain at a safe distance from the devastation, who are being tested in ways more gentle but just as significant as those in the middle of it.