Sunday, September 04, 2005

In the Wake of Katrina, What are We Going to Do?

I am profoundly moved by the events of the past week concerning Hurricane Katrina, and its impact on us as a nation. I have wept over the destruction of property and lives, but I have also been greatly dismayed at the blame and division so many have been fostering and propagating. The right of free speech carries with it an enormous responsibility.

Ted K. gave the sermon in our church meeting today. He opened with a story about a lesson he learned when he was 14. Some ladies at the church were “passing around” a baby for everyone to hold. Someone passed it to Ted and as soon as he took hold of him, he smelled “the mother load.” He promptly returned the baby to its mommy for a changing. As poop can be, it was a rather strong smell, and it lingered even after Ted had given the baby back. Even after he went outside, he continued to smell the poopy baby, and when he looked down at his shirt, he realized why. The baby had leaked a little onto his shirt. The lesson he learned from this was simple: “If it stinks everywhere you go, it’s probably you.” People that blame everything on someone else maybe need to look at themselves.

It’s human nature to blame. In Genesis 3:11, we find Adam answering God about eating of the forbidden fruit. Adam responds to God, blaming the only 2 other people he knew; Eve and God. “It’s not my fault. You made the woman and she listened to the serpent.” Even Adam passed the buck, rather than taking any personal responsibility.

“When we start blaming, we cut off the flow of solutions.” – Ted

In John 9: 1-5, we read the story of Jesus healing a blind man. This is the story from The Message Bible:
Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, "Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?" Jesus said, "You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world's Light."
He said this and then spit in the dust, made a clay paste with the saliva, rubbed the paste on the blind man's eyes, and said, "Go, wash at the Pool of Siloam" (Siloam means "Sent"). The man went and washed--and saw.

When we try to place blame on others we become blind to what God can do. When we become blind to what others are doing, we can focus on what God can do.” – Ted

Notice Jesus’ answer: “You’re asking the wrong question…” Jesus told his disciples that trying to figure out “why” or whose fault it was didn’t matter. The real question is looking instead for what God can do, and to energetically get to work while it was time to work.

In the case of the wake of Katrina, there has been a lot of blame being thrown around that is extremely counter-productive. It is dividing the people of this great nation who really need to come together, putting aside our political and philosophical differences and work “while the sun shines.”

Who cares who’s fault it is? It doesn’t matter anymore.” –Ted

What’s important now is not what has or hasn’t been done, but what we can do as a nation now. It’s time to heal, time to work together, and time for us to console the grieving and give what we can to help the victims.

This disaster was natural, not man-made. The aftermath of the disaster is what we choose for it to become. The destruction Katrina left is a wound on our nation. We will all feel the effects, both short-term, like paying more for gasoline, and long term; economically, spiritually, and emotionally. We still have the power as a nation to make a difference for the good of all. Petty animosity, blaming political leaders, and name calling isn’t going to heal our nation. Prayer, hard work, and stepping out of our comfort-zone will; but only if we, as a nation, are willing to put aside our politics and hatred.

If I saw someone drowning, I would not stop and ask their politics before extending a hand to rescue them. I wouldn’t even care. I would just try to save the person, even if it meant putting myself in danger. I am of the opinion that taking care of what needs to be done first is more important than discussing why it happened and trying to put the blame on someone. I am committed to doing whatever I can to help heal our nation. Spiritually, I must pray. Economically, I must give what I can. And practically, I must roll up my sleeves and volunteer my efforts, my home, my car, or whatever it takes. I am going to do my part. I implore us all to do the same.

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