I read one of the most thought provoking and powerful letters posted on Anderson Cooper’s 360 forum, which was written by Tom Foreman who is a ‘360’ correspondent. I ask those of you who read this column to go read his letter. Many journalists post their thoughts on various forums, but this one was as riveting as it was sad. It also spoke to my heart and hopefully yours.
In several columns, I have touched upon how we as a country respond to these natural disasters and asking if we are prepared as I did in my previous piece concerning earthquakes and volcanoes. I do so with hope of getting those in Washington, D.C. to care. Then again, if the plight of a people is not being paid attention to by the paid pundits and writers, who am I to think that the lone words sent out by me will be noticed? But, write I do.
Like many other Americans, I too have written letter-after-letter to these leaders hopefully to get their attention and all one receives back is a form letter if they are lucky enough. Like others, I do so in order to get them to care about the home front when such natural disasters strike or the un-natural such as the economic disaster we are all still facing. Like others, I have joined in with my fellow Americans to call these leaders attention the plight of a people as they face ordinary problems in their everyday lives.
To our fearless leaders and I use that term sarcastically: Do you even bother to read our letters? We are speaking to you, and do you even listen to we the people? I know that sounds populist in theme. Quite frankly instead of receiving a form letter back which I suppose many round-file, I would be correct in saying, actions speaks louder than words.
As folks view senate and house committee debates or other official proceedings on C-Span and other networks, I know why folks fall asleep. They are all just words. Case in point, if our elected leaders are dealing with infrastructure, instead of words going back and forth in any chamber, send the heavy equipment into our communities to start dealing with pervasive problem. In 2007 we all witnessed a bridge fall into the river in Minneapolis: Which is the next one? How many lives can be lost as we go forward as words are just spoken in these chambers? The same can be said of a whole host of problems we face as a nation.
Getting back to those who feel powerless, in these instances, these ordinary, yet extraordinary Americans most likely feel as all hope has been lost. Who can truly blame them as they see their problems ignored by those they sent to Washington to represent them. Due to the economic disasters still unfolding before our eyes, those who are feeling powerless has multiplied. Think about it, five million have lost their jobs, millions have lost their homes, and 50 million who still have no health care. Why, why and why?
We are often referred to as the most powerful nation on this planet, but how can we be so given the examples above? How can we be so when so many are still suffering? We simply cannot.
I do not know if those who moderate Anderson Cooper’s forum will publish my response; so I shall share it with you, my readers.
Your letter is by far one of THE most thought provoking and powerful letters I have read in a long time and an issue that I have brought up consistently as I write my columns. We spend trillions of dollars in our war on terror, and never think of the terror that can befall any victim of a natural disaster. Instead of compassion towards our fellow citizens, it has been replaced by a selfish creed of “not my problem” for the most part. If we were to empty every disaster-prone community within the United States: Where would people go to live?
I think this “not my problem” creed stemmed from the utter failure of the Bush administration in handling Katrina. I call it the discrimination of victims.
In a previous piece written on Dec. 11th, 2006, I wrote: "On April 28, 2006, Bay Buchanan who is one of the most hateful pundits was given air time and stated on CNN’s ‘Situation Room’ “I think Katrina has worn its welcome.- I think the American people are tired of it." Now let me ask you, what would have been the reaction coming from any listener of that broadcast had she said the same of those who suffered after September 11th?"
To tie Tom Foreman’s wonderful letter, and this “not my problem” creed together, is to go back in our recent history. Bay Buchanan by citing that opinion could have led others to believe as she did back then. Clearly, we must realize it as this: Who gains our sympathy and who does not?
Whether you are a journalist paid or unpaid, a pundit, an elected leader sent to Washington, D.C. to serve at the will of the people or the American people: All need to understand that we are all Americans, and no one should be treated differently when disaster strikes.