We Americans have a history of being resolute when disaster strikes. Like ants, a family of ants, we scamper out after the storm blows through, ready to pitch in and help our neighbor. During the great blackout of 1965 in NYC, good Samaritans were the majority, not the minority. Directing traffic through darkened and eerie intersections; keeping the elderly nourished and secure; and rescuing the thousands trapped in elevators and high-rises- a fine example of our pioneer (immigrant) heritage. Bravo to my fellow Americans.
Last night, Hurricane Charley rushed through our state of Florida, with such “shock and awe.” Tens of thousands of us are now without power -- no cool air conditioning to soothe us from this August Florida heat. No electricity to keep our televisions pumping out information and needed diversion. No cooking, no refrigeration (there goes my favorite frozen yogurt, literally down the drain), no light for evening reading. Driving through our town is a hazard, with no traffic lights and turn signals. If you think some of our neighbors were terrible drivers before -- oh boy! The banks and the ATMs are closed, and millions of dollars of foodstuff are being sacrificed each hour that the air conditioning is off. What a mess!
History is recorded simply to teach us. As a student of the esoteric philosophies, I firmly believe that “there are no coincidences.” There are reasons for everything. So, what is the lesson we can take from this devastation in Florida? Is there a “parallel” to all of this?
Seventeen months ago, another kind of “shock and awe” occurred in Iraq. Millions of civilians were left homeless after being saturated by perhaps a billion dollars worth of America's military hardware. “Smart bombs” were either not so or purposely so, as they leveled Iraq's electrical grid and water purification system, as well as a multitude of private residences. In a region that gets as hot as Arizona, many Iraqis waited months to get that needed air conditioning and safe drinking water -- those, that is, who still had places to call home. Others, the unfortunate majority of that country, are still awaiting the return of the basic necessities. One would venture to guess that, if interviewed about Hurricane Charley, most Iraqis could simply answer: “walk 17 months in my shoes.”
So, there you have it. We can take many lessons from this terrible Friday night in August. We can shake our heads and say “well, its just a part of nature, what can we do?” Or, we can feel the discomfort and the pain of our own inconveniences and imagine it thousands of miles away, amplified to the power of 100. Wars are not just for television viewing and waving flags. Wars are attacks on the daily lives of innocent civilians, perhaps a compilation of one hundred or one thousand Hurricane Charleys. My friends in Port Charlotte were unlucky to be in the eye of that storm. Millions of Iraqis can say the same for being in the path of Hurricane George. One wonders perhaps, what Bush's role model, Jesus, would have to say about that?
P. Anthony Farruggio is the founder of Citizen Activists of Volusia County, FL, a progressive action group. This Brooklyn, NY born, bred and educated (Brooklyn College '74) son of a longshoreman has had over 40 columns posted on progressive sites and newspapers since the 2000 election, including Counterpunch. He can be reached at PAnthonyF@aol.com.
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