Down and Out in the Big Easy

It’s difficult to watch the destruction Hurricane Katrina left behind. And, while the images of chaos and despair haunt me each night, what troubles me the most is the ominous outlook so many express.

Now, I know that to say, “Times are tough along the Gulf Coast,” is a drastic understatement. I can’t imagine what it would be like to go three, four, five days without food, water and supplies; moreover, the separation from family members and the constant worry and concern for their safety and well-being would tear me apart. But, the words I hear coming from those living through this tragedy are not words of faith and hope. Instead, the words I hear are words of hopelessness, defeatism and pessimism.

Interview after interview depicts the same dismal demeanor: “I’ve lost everything,” “What am I going to do,” “What am I supposed to do,” “Where do I go from here,” and so on and so forth.

Survivors of Katrina’s carnage need to keep their heads-up, not give-up. You haven’t lost everything. You’re alive! Where are you going to go? Forward! What are you supposed to do? Survive, rebuild and succeed! Where do you go from here? Up!

I may be mistaken, but I always thought southerners were strongly religious people. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the Bible contain numerous stories of people who lost it all yet went on with humbled and happy hearts and with faith and trust in the Lord.       

Even if you’re not religious, you’re still an American, and that means you don’t let adversity stand in your way. Your grandparents didn’t surrender during World War II when Hitler looked unstoppable. Your great-grandparents didn’t give-up during the Great Depression. Lewis and Clark didn’t let the Rocky Mountains keep them from the Pacific Ocean. And, your ancestors didn’t let the Atlantic Ocean stop them from getting to America. Defeatism, hopelessness and pessimism are not in your nature.

Earthquakes have rocked this nation, fires have burned our countryside, tornadoes have ripped through towns, floods have consumed cities, hurricanes have hit coastlines and planes have brought buildings down. In all cases, we have survived, we have moved forward and we have gotten stronger as a result.

The hardships now facing those in the south, and this nation as a whole, are not to deter us. They are to test our resolve, challenge us, strengthen us and bring us together.

In fact, as school is now starting, this national tragedy should bring renewed meaning to a phrase our children recite each day, “One nation, under God.”