Our country has a strange way of showing love to its citizens and especially certain segments of the population, especially in times of crisis. In fact, in times of crisis, such as the damage left behind by Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, we get to see what’s really important to those in power. We also get to see how the point-one percent — the ruling class — really think.
Incidentally, when the flag is waved we don’t wave just a certain section of the flag; we wave the whole flag. We don’t emphasize just the red or the blue parts. We don’t separate the stripes for adoration, nor do we heap extra attention on the stars.
At special days to honor the country, we honor the stars and stripes. We never mention stars without stripes, nor stripes without stars. So why, when it comes to aiding certain parts of our population, does the government act as if they are not as important as other parts?
I read that in certain parts of New York the people were greeted initially by people with guns rather than people with food. If we lived in the kind of society we claim to live in, when disaster strikes the very first thing we would do is rescue those who are still in need of rescuing and bring food and water and temporary shelter for those who are most impacted. So why did the government send in guns first?
Some might say, “Well, of course they had to protect the people, because folks will begin to victimize one another.” But upon closer examination it’s not consistent with the facts.
In disaster after disaster, the first response of practically all the human beings nearby is to reach out and aid their neighbor — not exploit their neighbor — especially in the first 72 hours. Even thieves’ initial response is to help their neighbor.
So why are the news folks, when they finally arrive on the scene, always sure to remind us that there was some stealing going on, some looting taking place? Incidentally, when people are trying to survive, grabbing goods they need is not looting but surviving. And no doubt after things get a bit settled there is going to be some stealing.
In an imperfect and fallen world there is bound to be some criminal activity, but the initial response of working people is to reach out for one another. So the so-called looting is always miniscule compared to the more touching and human story of people reaching out to aid one another, which is always much more prevalent than criminal activity.
The news folks are quick to point out the negative activity in a crisis because they are told by their bosses to look for it. And because they, too, have been programmed to believe and thus look for the worst in certain segments of the population. And of course if that’s what you are programmed to look for, you are sure to find it. That negative activity serves to reinforce the propaganda that the “powers that be” seek to impose on the minds of everyday folks, which is that, “Your neighbor can’t be trusted,” and especially certain neighbors of a certain hue.
This is done to continue to keep us divided. So the guns and the reports of folks stealing are designed to reinforce negative stereotypes, which in the end serve to reinforce the slow government response to the crisis of regular working people.
By any reasonable measurement, the response was slow, especially considering this it the United States we are talking about, the richest and most powerful nation on the planet. The response was slow when you take into account how quickly the country was able to deploy troops, weaponry and other equipment to Iraq and Afghanistan when it was decided by the government to go to war.
To be fair, the government, through FEMA, is finally coming around, but the Hurricane hit weeks ago. Ironically, if it weren’t for a group of radicals calling themselves Occupy Sandy many people in Brooklyn and Far Rockaway would have found themselves in far worse shape.
Rumor has it that FEMA folks were sending people to Occupy Sandy-aide stations to get help. Occupy Sandy had the foresight to even set up first-aid stations, which the government agency failed to do.
In a society in which we have all paid in, in some form or another, in some way or another, the least we should be able to expect is that when we as citizens are in a crisis this government would supply us food, water and emergency shelter. If the government cannot or will not do this, then it’s time to rethink why this particular government “really” exists.
Mel Reeves welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.