The events of the past week in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina have truly brought to light everything it means to be an American. A light has been shown on the good, bad and everything between.
So much of what America truly is has come into the open. In the face of adversity, the true nature of a person’s character is meant to arise.
As a nation, that nature has proven to be far from perfect in its response to tragedy and crisis.
Countless relief agencies including the American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity have mobilized to provide aid to the victims of Katrina . Meanwhile, churches and civic groups have begun efforts to collect toiletry and clothing items to ship to those in need. In one of the greatest showings of goodwill, cities such as Houston and Memphis have opened their arms and stadiums to welcome those fleeing flooded and demolished areas.
On the other side of the spectrum, a growing number of affected residential areas have spiraled into a realm of violence and looting that only serve their interests. These actions that often are not a necessity for survival, but a testament to individual depravity, have marred the nation’s relief efforts.
However, those stranded by the storm are not the only ones attempting to benefit from hurricane Katrina by preying on others. A myriad of e-mail and other fundraising scams have appeared to steal money from unsuspecting people trying to help the storm victims.
Although there are hundreds of thousands of people lying on either side of the divide, most Americans seem content to rest in the middle and watch.
The majority of the American population sympathizes with the thousands of homeless, stranded and potentially dead, yet they fail to take action. We prefer to focus their energies on the U.S. national pastime of complaining.
We complain about the slow federal response to the storm’s aftermath, high gas costs and the endless news coverage of hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, this complaining leads to absolutely nothing but more complaining and inaction.
The reality is that we have evolved into a country of inaction and indifference. How many people have not given anything to assist in the relief efforts? How many people have not written to their congressman indicating their opinion about the $10.5 billion dollars of aid authorized by Congress for a storm that has the potential to cost up to $30 billion?
There should not be so much talk and so little action as a nation.
Being a nation of inaction should not be the mark of our country’s true character. America’s legacy of simply complaining without doing anything can and will not end overnight. But we can start the long process of redefining ourselves now before the next disaster or tragedy strikes.
Jason E. Hutchins is a senior business administration from Athens, GA. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org