I went to the Cajundome today to help in any way I could. I went through work, we're sponsored in part by the United Way and they're trying to get a few more volunteers, so... I get there at 8am today and there's absolutely nothing to do. The people at the front desk told me as much, but that I needed to check the back part [the Convention Center] of the Cajundome. No help needed there. I did find out that almost everyone is out of the main area [and into the smaller Convention Center] and it looks like more than half of the people are out completely.

I wonder what it will be like when all this mess is over- when no more volunteers are needed for something specific like Hurricanes Ka-Rita [thanks Dallas for the nomenclature]. Will we learn from this or just forget about it like we do '80's clothes, they might come back in style, but it will be short-lived and just a caricature of what it originally was? I hope we learn a few things:

Welfare in our country easily turns into a reason for people not to work
. As Vox Church is considering what we're going to do with a Ka-Rita family, our main financial concern is for our body to help them get on their feet, not just become a source of free income for a while. Turning a critical eye toward our welfare system will help us change it from something that helps people not work to something that proactively gets people back on their feet.

There is something innately beautiful about serving someone who cannot repay you. Jesus spoke about this, and during this crisis, many people found this to be true all over again. When you do something for someone who can't repay you, it is an honor. Hopefully, this will show us that these opportunities to help don't fall in our laps too often. As we get out among the hurting and needy, we will find more opportunities to serve as Christ's body. I'm sure this is something many churches found out as soon as they opened up as a shelter, but let's look at our lives, not just our church buildings. Where are we living?

Through moderation, national crises in gas prices wouldn't affect us so much. I heard a ton of people complain about the gas prices, but not many willing to buy a scooter [only one or two friends of mine]. We need to face it: cars are a status symbol and we as a country need to let that go in hopes of reducing oil consumption/waste and to break the corporate greed that surrounds many oil companies. When I inquired of a friend of mine after the first hurricane how she felt about her family essentially living off [her husband works for a gas company] the money made from this, she simply replied, "We don't talk with our mouths full." She wasn't eating anything at the time she said that. Indeed, biting the hand that stuffs your mouth with things you don't really need can be very problematic. We, as a country, need to let this status / pride / whatever associated with gas consumption go so that we can be free from this recurring drama.


Elise said...

On the car thing. . .yes cars are a status symbol, but I don't think me and my soon to be 3 kids will fit on a scooter with groceries and all the stuff I need to cart around for the Greenhouse. We have essentially no public transit in our town either. What I can do is plan errands and trips wisely and economize where I can.

On the oil and gas industry. . .sure there are people who are gladly profiting from this disaster, BUT I would wager that the average oil/gas industry employee will not see a larger paycheck for quite some time IF at all. My dad and brother are both in the oil biz, but neither one of them is getting rich off of the hurricane.

These issues are good to think about, but be careful of rushing to judgment.

Drew Caperton said...

On the car thing: the central question isn't "do you have an SUV?" it's "are you spending your gas/money/time in moderation?" Driving a big car for kids is a status that is earned, not bought. Your needs are different than the mom-dad-child family of three who drives an SUV when they could easily drive a sedan and use 1/4 of the gas.

On oil: the problem with pointing the finger at "oil" is that there are tons of people involved who don't see a dime of it, like you dad and bro. The situation is problematic because the system is very screwed up and even though your dad and bro "aren't getting rich" from this, they are still very connected to [because they're in the biz] inflated gas prices when there's a scare. I'm not calling out everyone with an oil company badge to repent, I'm saying we need to overhaul an unchecked system. Get some federal regulations, use less gas as a country to remove some power, something to get us away from being SO dependant on the price of oil. I believe it was Exxon/Mobil [or Chevron/Texaco, not sure] that reported a 30% increase in profits during the "hurricane" quarter. I can't blame them for making money, but I can and will demand a change in the system.

On rushing: I think waiting two weeks after Rita and almost five after Katrina isn't rushing. I've read up on both sides of the issue and took my time forming an opinion and making a judgment.

jnthn said...

regarding elise, the problems that you have of carting kids around with all kinds of stuff has become a problem because of the kind of city structures that we have allowed to spring up. The problem of urban sprawl has caused people to directly tied to their vehicle. They can't even walk to store to buy food, because the not so super super-market is miles away.
if you look at how communities are built in other countries you will see people living much closer to everything, even in the small country village.
We need to get away from our manifest destiny mindset and really start living sustainably.

for drew's talk of the welfare state, I would agree with you. There are definitely problems with welfare, but it really stems from a larger issue of the explotation of the wage laborer. How is someone supposed to work when the only job they can get is McDonalds where they will have to worry about making less than their welfare check plus worrying about childcare, transportation, and many other worries that come along with it.
There are the lazy that just pull in a check without the care of taking care of themselves. But there's also to poor widow with three kids without a car that just flat can't find a job that can pay her enough to provide for herself let alone a family.

Drew/Elise, you both have good points. I just wanted to point out larger underlying issues for each that I'm sure both of you are aware of.