FOODCHAIN: A Healing Storm
Thursday, September 15, 2005
POWER IN PERSPECTIVE… The Gulf Coast situation is grudgingly—no, sludgingly—creeping toward whatever it is the battered region is evolving into. As I write this, the scene is still nearly apocalyptic, yet the spirited folks of that area are vowing to rebuild and start over. Many inhabitants of New Orleans are still refusing to follow the mandatory post-hurricane evacuation orders set forth by the city’s leaders, who cited the certain onset of disease and other dangers related to the squalid conditions. Government officials stated they would forcibly remove uncooperative citizens if need be.
A point worth pondering here is: Do normally responsible adult members of a community have the right to place their own lives at risk if they so choose, and to what degree? And is it within the parameters of a free society’s government to forcibly prohibit those citizens from placing themselves at risk? This simply complex question piles atop the mound of questions unleashed by this delicately-named monster.
I’ve seen a lot of stirring national events in my time, yet Katrina may have exposed nerves we as a society have not really had exposed since the tumultuous days of Vietnam, the civil rights movement and the pressure-packed early ‘70s. Society was tearing apart at the seams back then and there was a lot of ugly stuff inside.
I think everyone is feeling some of this, despite the attempts at acting normal (whatever that means). This may ultimately prove to be America’s most important healing crisis (a health term describing what happens when the body is in the process of expurgating toxins, as they often create temporary symptoms of illness).
Firstly, Mother Nature initiated this. I don’t care how we as humans may have screwed up the response—that’s almost to be expected. But we know that it’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature. We really know. Hopefully, and we must all approach this hopefully, the starkness of that horrendous scene along the Gulf Coast and throughout the heretofore forgotten South has engendered a healing crisis on the biological system that is our society.
Let’s face it, bombs and terrorists are not nearly as scary as Mother Nature. Humans can do impressive things, but they ain’t shit compared to a hurricane, an earthquake or a tsunami, or a volcano, or a tornado. A tornado can stop a terrorist attack every time—never vice versa. The point I’m longwindedly trying to make is that we got scared out of our wits by this thing, and like the flood waters filling New Orleans after the parade passed them by, we got it on the back end, while we were sitting comfortably waiting for the usual camera pans of a few knocked-down gas station signs and the mildly peeved reporters frustratingly attempting to find signs of devastation but falling short. Everybody fell short on this one.
Except Katrina. She kicked our collective ass, plain and simple. But it wasn’t enough to level our architectural structures—hell, we could rebuild everything with the help of all those sympathetic insurance companies—no, she had to puncture our spiritual lungs, karate chop our collective conscience and stomp on our self-proclaimed superiority. This was a first-class ass whoopin’, no two ways about it. And like with any ass whoopin’, we’re going to come out of this changed. It’s not like 9/11 where we can get all huffy and go beat somebody up. This is like the stark realization you get when you’re a child and you intuitively know that you are dependent on your parents for your very life.
Hopefully, and we must begin to become hopeful, the shift in mass consciousness created by Katrina will impact the members of society sensitive enough to grasp its importance, and power their actions from now on. To squander this opportunity for fundamental change is to truly spit in the face of God, or whatever you choose to call the ultimate force that moves the heavens and certainly the earth.
Don’t let the nearness of this monumental occurrence lose its meaning. Please embrace the opportunity for change, for it is only with the expulsion of old, poisonous thoughts and actions that we can make way for new, healthy and life-asserting thoughts and actions.
Meanwhile, there is much work to be done. Trying to imagine the logistics of the post-Katrina efforts is difficult. Extrapolating beyond the region’s most immediate needs almost seems futile at this point. There is so much human effort to muster, so many resources to gather, so much suffering and struggle still to come.
KATRINA BENEFIT PARTY… As you would expect, the great and selfless members of our own community, led in this case by our chefs and hospitality industry, are doing what they do best—hosting a big party to raise a bunch of money for the relief effort caused by Hurricane Katrina.
At the time of this writing, after a two-hour meeting at Tarpy’s led by Hullabaloo’s Todd Fisher and Wil Reynolds, along with Montrio’s Tony Baker, plus about 20 other heavy hitters from the area, we had scratched out a pretty good outline for this event at the MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM on Oct. 7. The plan is to create a great Mardi Gras themed gathering of our friends from the Monterey Peninsula and send some healing energy (and a lot of dollars) toward our fellow citizens from along the Gulf.
Please help spread the word. Also, if you have anything to donate for the auctions, or if you have any creative suggestions or ideas to implement, please contact me or any of the other folks involved so we can make this as big as possible. Everyone involved is doing this purely for the feeling of trying to help, for I think we all want to help in some way.
This is slightly different from the many other fundraisers we all encounter throughout the year—not to diminish any of those in any way. It’s just that Katrina has reached inside us all and hurt us underneath our facades of invincibility, smashed through our veneers of vanity.
Not one of us was spared. Not one of us can manage to ignore it. Not one of us will ever be the same. Hopefully, and where there’s hope there’s life, every one of us will use this healing crisis to bring forth a newer, healthier American citizen, one who is a bit more compassionate, a bit more understanding, a bit more tolerant, a bit less arrogant, a bit less insensitive, a bit less greedy. Thanks for stopping by.