"If we cling only to that which we know, then we'll only know that to which we cling."  

Hurricane Katrina sent a not-so-gentle reminder to all of us here in the lap of complacent luxury that, despite all of our intellect, our technology, or our affluence, we are not in control. We see how, very suddenly, everything upon which we rely is, in itself, unreliable. Our advancements are never so important to us as when we need them most. The automobile, paved roads, fossil fuels, electricity, computers, medicine, etc. are at their zenith of usefulness when, of necessity, a loved one is rushed by ambulance to a hospital and is the recipient of these wonderful innovations in an effort to save his life.

It is after successful open-heart surgery that we comment and testify about the inventions and technology that has saved us. We marvel and are grateful that we live in such a time as this that we might have such benefits. We do not often hear gratitude about the ease at which we venture to the corner grocery store and purchase milk from a container -- and not a cow for miles!

Our technology, as convenient and wonderful as it may be, is really there for improving the conditions which preserve and prolong life. Clean water, sanitation, disease control, safety, shelter, etc. -- these are what modern innovations provide. It just so happens that it's not only easy but somewhat expedient that we make the transition to include personal convenience to the list of preserving and prolonging life. So when disaster strikes, where is that safety net?

The disaster wasn't so much Katrina as it was what the winds of that hurricane exposed. It exposed the Great Society and the welfare state for what it truly is... a people who cannot weather a storm. It showed the mighty oak toppled, exposing the shallow roots of lethargy. It showed what results from the long abuse of the narcotic-like social programs and the subsequent atrophy of self-reliance.

We saw several categories into which the victims of the storm were aligned:

  1. The truly indigent. The real victims helplessly trodden under the heavy foot of natural disaster. These are primarily the elderly or the very young, they are the crippled and the ill. They could not change their circumstances without external aid.

  2. The thieves. Common thugs and robbers taking full advantage under cover of the storm. These are the opportunists who seek the unlocked door or the car with the keys left inside. Always out for the easiest score.

  3. The physical addicts. Those who are dependent upon the chemical crutches of drugs and alcohol to meet the challenges of every-day life. People who have not learned through long practice how to dig deep and find hidden strengths. They always looked to blame external forces for their circumstances... And now when called upon to show their mettle, they had none, believing, after so many years, that they never possessed it.

  4. The social addicts. Those whose lives and financial circumstances have become, over the years, the responsibility of the general population. They now believe that they are owed a debt by society. They have learned to reason that those who have things had some advantage. They see only two groups, the have's and the have not's. To these, a rags-to-riches story is one wherein a person has won the lottery or inherited money.

  5. The gluttonous. Image after image depicted the inactive and the obese trudging through the flooded streets. Years of physical neglect and over-indulgence making it so that one is no longer simply unwilling to help him or herself, but now wholly incapable of it.

Life is a struggle, it is meant to be. We are offspring of the Great God of the Universe and He desires that we are happy and have joy in our lives. He has prescribed the ideal practices that will ensure our ultimate peace. We are to labor daily, to be kind and forgiving, to love one another, to turn the other cheek, to incorporate the Golden Rule into our lives. In other words, we are to keep others in mind, to sacrifice ourselves for the benefit of those around us.

Fortunately we have the ideal place to practice these techniques. We can begin within the walls of our own homes. We can also belong to a church and can practice on our acquaintances there. We can be selfless to those we encounter in stores and on the roadways. I personally get a lot of practice on the roads, learning to be patient and forgiving when rude drivers abound is almost beyond my capacity! :) This goes beyond simply being nice to just to nice... it is essential for our own happiness.