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My Postcard Confession

2 · Sep · 2006

Yesterday I watched the full four acts of that documentary about Hurricane Katrina. For the first time, I finally felt what so many other Americans do: anger, frustration, and disillusionment with our government. It made me think that if I were going to send in a secret to Post Secret, it would be


(artwork by Faction18)

You may remember that in the 7th grade, I wanted to be President of the country. And all my life I have stood by the belief that one person can make a huge difference in the world, that the government is basically good and that truth will prevail. But lately, I feel swindled and defeated. Believe it or not, I can find excuses for the war. If you've ever worked for an extraordinarily large corporation, you know how important things can get lost in the shuffle. That was most of my excuse for Bush after the first 6 months into the war.

Then I gave him some slack because he's a Christian and sometimes Christians believe it's their job to "save" everyone. He's not an evil person, I told myself, He thinks he's helping. It's not been as hard as you think it would be to stand by Bush. I can also blame his staff and the press and the ignorance of the general population regarding matters of peacekeeping.

But yesterday I really thought about New Orleans. I couldn't deny the lack of help that was given to those people. I watched newsreel after newsreel of Bush saying help was on the way. But help did not come. He was the President of the United States and he did not do his job. When the President of your country does not do his job, you are really screwed.

I'm a "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" kind of girl. I'm not big on handouts and I sure as hell am not big on helping people who don't help themselves. But there were plenty of people trapped in New Orleans who couldn't walk, could not speak, and did not have access to the resources to get themselves out. Grandfathers, grandmothers, disabled, babies, children, new mothers, weak minded. They simply could not help themselves. Yet they lay in the hot sun or wadded in the bacteria ridden waters. They waited in the disgusting pit of the superdome with no working bathrooms, no diapers, and no medicine.

It reminded me of what Ceauşescu did to the gypsy orphans. He left them to die, providing only a veil of care and resources.

We cannot really imagine what it was like in New Orleans during the immediate days after the levees broke or what it's still like now. We cannot combine the sights, the smells, the heat, or the physical and emotional pain that engulfed such a large number of people so that we might come close to understanding why those communities have come to hate and distrust our government. The film lies. It reveals only a fragment of this crime of humanity.

It's hard for me to accept that in 2000 my friend Dave Hoerman and I eagerly awaited the win of George W. Bush. We had chosen to support Bush as a result of Dave's makeshift scorecard that consisted of major issues of the time and every available candidates opinion. We took the quiz and saw that the results lined us up closer to Bush than the others. I even went so far as to sport a campaign bumper sticker and worked the polls election day.

Still, I believe that the full responsibility for New Orleans or the wars cannot fall to him alone. If there is one thing I learned from those corporations, it is that the chain of command is LONG. But what is supposed to make America different is the direction of that chain. Who is pulling George W's strings? I've heard so many Bush haters say what a pawn he is, that he is dumber than dumb, incapable of speaking intelligently, let alone making decisions. So we blame Cheney? Or the oil companies? Or single minded politicians? Or the old Louisiana rich who wanted to rebuild New Orleans without the poor black community? We have a saying, "The buck stops here.” As I continue down the line of blame, I reach none other than myself.

"We the people..." It is not enough anymore to be a taxpayer. It is not enough just to vote. It's not enough to wait it out until the current regime is gone. If I blame anyone for the embarrassment that is George W. Bush, it's people like you and me who complain yet do nothing to create change. Back in 2000 I did a fraction of my part and last year Mike and I sent supplies and a cash donation to New Orleans. But since then I have been sitting back, watching the stories unfold; a shocked expression on my face and a tight fist around my wallet. I haven't been to an anti-war rally. I haven't written a letter to the President or a soldier. I haven't had the balls to speak politics among my friends or family. I haven't begun to research who I should vote for in 2008. This is our country. Shouldn't you and I be leading it? Isn't it about time one of us ran for local office? Shouldn't we get together and plan ways to enforce our ideas?
Stand yourself up next to the present leaders--- Are you really so unqualified next to this bunch?

I am weary of hearing myself and my friends say that someday we will get more involved. It sounds the same to me now as if I were looking as those helpless people in New Orleans at the height of their despair and saying, Someday I will help you. Or I'm sure help is on the way.

Posted by Penny Rene at 10:22 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack