I wasn't going to blog again tonight, I really wasn't. Then, I was introduced to a right wing radio host, who I'd never heard of before, named Glenn Beck. He hates the New Orleans flood victims, really hates them, and also pointed out that he hates some 9-11 families
. I had to know why he'd hate the victims of calamity. I just had to know.
Well, he hates the New Orleans victims because, when FEMA started handing out $2000 cash cards at the Astrodome (uh... I bet most people lost more than $2,000 worth of possessions, not to mention the future income they've lost because their jobs are under 20 feet of toxic flood water) they... kind of freaked out a bit about making sure they all got cards. They didn't riot, by, the way, they just kind of all freaked out. Let's keep this in perspective. If I'd just lost everything I owned, and the government had failed to provide a timely rescue, and that same government offered me a cash card worth a fraction of what I'd lost but which might provide me money to, you know, let my loved ones survive another day... I'd freak out to get one.
But Glenn Beck, who I have to give his full name for on every mention so that he's not confused with Genius Beck (the musician) says that it's like a buffet! They never run out of goodies! Okay, for one thing, buffet food almost always sucks. For another thing, if the government that had just left me suffering in toxic sludge for a week were running the buffet... why in the blue hell would I believe that they wouldn't run out for $2,000 cash cards? And, hell, beyond that, given the conditions that many New Orleans survivors are living in, getting $2,000 wouldn't even be much relief because I'd wonder what the hell our stingy and incompetent government would muster once that ran out.
And... I don't have a family. I don't have a wife and two kids. But, I do live in the modern economy and, as a denizen of that, I say that $2,000 is some nice relief in hard times, but that it can go pretty fast, even if you're single and being frugal. Look, I think it's great that the government is pretty quickly giving $2,000 to people who have been entirely displaced. It's a good start and a good thing and it gives people some leeway to figure out another way to exist. But it's only the start of what people deserve and it's barely a fraction of what's needed to make people whole. It's survival money.
This loser, Glenn Beck, is criticizing people who have nothing for freaking out about survival money.
Well, Glenn Beck sucks and he doesn't have the grapefruits to deal with real hardship.
My response is that everybody displaced had better get one of those cards and then, through a combination of insurance and government, they need to be made whole.
I've said this in almost every post and in almost every word I've written about New Orleans, but I'll say it again: Society exists, in its most essential part, to protect us against hostile environments. I really believe that it is the primary reason that people banded together. It's harder for tigers to eat us if we're together. We can make floodable land habitable, together. Hell, we can go in orbit, or to the moon, two places that would kill an individual in seconds, if we marshall our skills and resources together. That's freaking why we're together, in an evolutionary sense... it lets us expand! When people ask me why there was a city below sea level and people living in a flood zone in the first place, I always tell them that it's because humanity was gifted with reason and community. Those tools let us make dangerous place habitable. That drive, to populate the world, has its problems and we can have anb environmental discussion some other time, but at the root of it is the fact that society lets people live in places that might otherwise be unlivable. That's part of life, by the way. All species expand to maximum capacity. We have courted some dangers and suffered many losses, but that's who we are, fundamentally.
But, if that's what humanity has evolved into, a loose social collective that gathers skills and reasons to live in sometimes dangerous spots, then to do anything less than to give our full support to victims of the 2004 tsunami or 2005's Katrina, or to 9-11, or to hurricane Andrew or San Francisco's many earthquakes or the LA Riots... well, to do less is a denial of being human.
Part of being human is being social. Being social protects individuals from nature and each other. Those are fundamental needs of our species and we only exist because, throughout the billions of years that our planet had existed, we have met those needs to the degree that we can and have survived.
Folks, we are what we are. We are primates with reason and opposable thumbs who have banded together against an indifferent nature that includes ourselves. Know-nothings like Glenn Beck can blab, blab, blab, their vitriol and hatred towards other humans, but in 4.5 billion years of life on Earth and the evolution that came from it, modern humans are the only species who spread so far and with such dominance and I include viruses, bacteria and ubiquitous e. coli in that. We've done it with an evolved empathy and sense of community that Glenn Beck doesn't even know exists. Seriously, if that turd were to somehow read this post, he'd be entirely confused by what I'm saying. He just doesn't get it.
Look around you, look at the strangers, the cab driver, the Wal-Mart checkout clerk, the congressional representative, the billionaire mogul, the guy who jsut offered you his seat on the subway because you look tired, the talking heads, the ex-lover, the guy who stops you from driving down a street where a crane is operating, the cop walking down the street for no reason at all... we're all here for the greater good of the species, even the assholes. We're all together, because without being together, we'd be nothing more than the fossils of pterodactyls discovered by some other species that had been blessed enough by nature to get it together.
I guess I'm annoyed that, in the aftermath of the destruction of New Orleans, I have seen people blame the people in New Orleans. That isn't what made humanity so present on Earth. That is the opposite. That is a herd of kudu stopping to blame the slower one for getting eaten by a leopard, which would result in the leopord eating all of the herd.
See, even kudu know better.
But there's a difference. Kudu can run. Humans aren't runners. We're on two freaking feet! Running kills our backs and knees!
Kudu run. Humans rebuild and manipulate nature, hopefully in reasonable ways, and thus, they achieve the same result as a herd of running Kudu -- most get away to get more.
For 200 million years, a short span to the Kudu running but a long time in the life of most specifes, humanity has been served by banding together against disaster and using reason to prevent it. They run, we reason. That's how it's been for a long time. But the will to reason lies in empathy. You can't just say "Stupid idiots," and turn away. You have to say, "Is there a way to do this right?" If there is, you have to rebuild. That's human. What Glenn Beck and others have said, laying blame on the victims and wanting to run away isn't inhuman, it's antihuman.
Forgive me, by the way, if my definition of humanity is a bit "Star Trek." I'm a geek.
But think about it. A species uses empathy and reason to survive the threats of an indifferent nature. To me, that really sounds like what we're doing.