Archive for Thursday, September 22, 2005

Survival, not possessions important

September 22, 2005

Still foremost in our thoughts these days are the deprivations of Hurricane Katrina. The media in magazines, newspapers and television has saturated us with information, everything from the political stance of the present administration to the mishandling of the evacuation of New Orleans to the horror stories coming directly from the people involved.

Blame and finger pointing is at its height, and everyone is still talking about the disaster wherever you go. Once again I am reminded of the awesome power of Mother Nature and of the comfortable illusion that we are "safe."

Years ago I read a book by Leo Buscaglia about his trips throughout the world visiting different cultures. He rode a bike and took very little with him. At one point he found himself in a village where the rains come each year and the villagers abandon their homes to ride out the rising waters. When he hesitated and asked them why they were not taking their possessions along, they laughed and said, "Get in the boat."

He wrote about what a life-changing experience that was -- finding out how much importance we in this country place on possessions and things. I'm sure many families in the south can now attest to the truth of such a story.

Reading news magazines this week and looking at the faces of those who were not lucky enough to escape the brunt of the hurricane, brought to mind the poignant pictures of the great wave of people who migrated to California during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s when they had lost everything to the savage drought and winds of the Midwest. The defeat on their faces and their posture told the story, as did the hollow look of despair in their eyes.

As the stories emerge of the aftermath of the storm, they are too often brought to us through a media intent on eliciting emotion from victims, relieving them of their dignity and making them uncomfortable.

With that in mind, one powerful story written in a recent Newsweek stands out. It tells the story of a New Orleans family -- the Moores -- who were separated and taken to different drop-off points at the time of rescue. Thinking they would all be reunited in one place, they found themselves in three different places. For days, they searched for each other -- the father and mother each with several children and five of the children alone without parents or relatives under the wing of the Moores' oldest of 13 children.

Quoting the piece, "If any kid has the right stuff to survive Katrina, it's O'Neil Moore. Each day in the shelter, he gathered food, clothing, toys and diapers for his young brother and sisters. Somewhere along the way, he acquired a giant blue duffel bag he stuffed with all their belongings."

Theirs is a happy ending with all being reunited on the father's 45th birthday.

Many were not so lucky as evidenced by CNN, where the list of missing children seems endless. As I read last week, all the children, whether separated, reunited or always at their side, were traumatized from the ordeal.

If you have not yet contributed to the relief effort for Katrina, I hope you take advantage of an opportunity here in Eudora to participate in the community yard sale Saturday, organized by Tami Klinedinst and Shari Turnbaugh to benefit survivors of the hurricane.

Once again Klinedinst has stepped up to meet a need and to organize efforts here in Eudora. Come by the high school parking lot Saturday to donate goods or funds and support these two caring women who volunteer time and talent to a number of Eudora projects.

  • Ending this piece on a happier note, I was pleased to see in last week's Eudora News that school-crossing guard Joan Hughes at Eudora West Elementary was honored as a Eudora "good gal."

It was Joan I was referring to in a previous column, noting her cheerful wave to all who pass by her crossing each morning. Not knowing her name at the time, it was fun to open the paper and to see that others have been cheered by her wave and smile as well.

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