Friday, September 02, 2005

In Their Shoes

TRP is calling for silence.

Scalzi is calling for competence.

CPF is calling for order (scroll down to the "Asshat" entry).

I'd like to call for something else: empathy.

Most of us have means to avoid a natural disaster like a hurricane. But I would like most of us to try on someone else's shoes for a moment. I'm an actor and I do this all the time, so allow me to help.

Imagine that you are poor, perhaps even disabled. All of your wordly possessions are crammed into a 2-story 750 square foot rental home that you share with your diabetic Mother who has had both legs amputated below the knee. You have no car and rely on public transportation to get from home to work to the store. You hear on the television that a hurricane is headed toward your city and is steadily gathering strength. But you've been through storms before and are not too concerned. But then the order to evacuate is issued, and you have no means to get out. You think you can get you and your Mom seats on a Greyhound bus, but you learn that Greyhound closed its doors on Saturday. Today is Sunday. You start to batten down your home as best you can: boarding up your windows and doors, gathering up what food and water that you can get your hands on, and some medicine for your Mom. You hear one of the TV people say that if you are going to ride out the storm you should have an axe so you can cut through your roof if necessary. That stops you cold, and the realization that something very bad is about to happen washes over you like a cold tide. You tell your Mom you'll be right back and not to worry, and you get on your telephone to call 911. All circuits are busy, and when you finally get through to someone they can offer you no help but strongly urge you and your Mom to get out of the city. By this time, the storm has arrived and it is more powerful and terrifying than you ever imagined. The wind. The water. The ferocity. After what seems like forever, the storm begins to abate and you and your Mom and your house have come through reasonably well. There's no TV, no telephone, and as you frantically find your radio you realize that in your rushing around to prepare for the storm you forgot to get fresh batteries. You snap the radio on. Nothing. That cold tide that began washing over you a few hours ago is now colder and darker. And then the water comes. And keeps coming. And keeps coming. Your street now looks like a swollen creek that has overflowed its banks. You move your Mom up to the second floor and start to move the food and water that you have accumulated. The water keeps coming. It's now lapping against your screen door that has somehow survived the horrific winds. It opens and closes in time with the water, banging against your front door that is groaning under the weight of the water. While the front door groans and the screen door bangs you realize that you left your axe downstairs. You arrive at the top of the staircase and look down in horror: your first floor is submerged under almost a foot of water. You charge down the stairs, trying to remember where you put the axe after the TV people told you to get one. There it is! On the kitchen counter. You grab it and slosh back upstairs, the water continuing to rise...

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Please spare a moment to empathize with the people of the Gulf Coast.

Please donate whatever you can.

Thank you.

3 comments:

John B. said...

Tommyspoon:

CPF is calling for order and donations...but he is beginning to come around to your thoughts that the government might not be moving fast enough or well enough to help in the aftermath.

Empathy is a great word that you use for this situation, and few of us probably truly realize the depths of desperation these people are undergoing.

lemming said...

Beautifully done, Mr. Spoon.

TeacherRefPoet said...

Again...I'm calling for silence so that we can get to empathy. If we're shouting to protect a political party, we're not working towards empathy.