Tragedy and Promise

I’ve been a little silent lately, because it seems that there isn’t much to write that trumps the suffering people are enduring in the South right now. That, and I’m going through a difficult time myself, which I may or may not post more about later.

In the midst of bad news, though, you can get some good.

I went to a wedding on Saturday. It was a very uplifting wedding, even enough to lift my spirits; as Tami could tell you, that can sometimes be quite a job. During the wedding, the best man’s wife delivered their child (not at the wedding, obviously), with no problems to speak of. And at the reception, my brother called to let me know he was engaged, to a wonderful woman he met after moving to North Carolina. Tidings of good news, even if most of it didn’t really concern me, has a way of putting life in perspective.

It seems that the news of the hour centers around someone getting blamed for incompetence in their handling of the Katrina aftermath. Not surprisingly, the targets of criticism could all have been predicted a month ago, with Democrats yelling at the White House and Republicans castigating the Democratic governor of Louisiana and mayor of New Orleans. Unfortunately, both sides seem to have too much material to draw from.

Some of the criticisms have been good, in that they have pointed at specific problems that we can do something about. The rest have been, well, damaging. Not to their intended targets–real damage to those people won’t be seen until the after-action reports come out months from now–but to all of us, and most importantly to the people who are suffering. Firing Michael Brown or impeaching Kathleen Blanco may make us feel good now, but will the additional command-and-control confusion save lives? Not likely.

My brother wanted to propose to his girlfriend at a lighthouse on a small bit of land off the Carolina shore, but there’s a new hurricane in the Atlantic, and it’s there. He could have thrown a fit and blamed the boat captain for interfering with his best-laid plans, but he didn’t. Instead, he proposed on the beach, and everything worked out well despite the circumstances. It may be callous to compare a minor setback for a romantic scenario to the deaths of many thousands, but it is no less so than to press our leaders to pay attention to their reputations instead of the people that are still dying. Maybe we in the chattering classes need to learn a little flexibility, and a little perspective.