I have more half-baked thoughts swimming around my head in the wake of the response to Katrina. I can’t help but think, what happens when breakdown of society is nationwide, or even global? How will we survive when there is no one to bring us aid?
When it comes to survival under duress, when infrastructure has been destroyed, capitalism is an abstraction that gets in the way. When society breaks down, no one will care about $100 bills, credit cards, expense accounts, fancy cars with no gas to operate them, or cavernous mansions with no food or running water. What will matter is not marketing degrees, but rather real ability to survive, to find and procure food and water, to build shelter, and to defend yourself and your loved ones.
This pacifist is in a quandary about whether or not violence is justified to defend oneself, one’s loved ones, one’s community, in the chaos of a disaster. Normally I will eschew violence. But I cannot say what I would do if someone threatened my family, my child, in the course of a disaster (or in any other context for that matter). Given this, can I truly call myself a pacifist? Even Buddhist monks learn to defend themselves. The larger question: Is violence and taking advantage of the weak part of human nature? Or is it an artifict of oppression and/or capitalist slavery? My first thought is that there are more powerful tools, in the long run, than firearms. It seems to me that my best bet for survival is to shine my light bright and not fight, unless absolutely necessary. And even if I do find a need to fight, it should be from a place of compassion, as the person picking a fight with me would clearly be doing so because of suffering.
Is the US response to Katrina informing The Terrorists(tm) about our weaknesses in the event of a catastrophic attack? Let’s take the BuShites at face value, and assume that there are thousands of Evil Terrorists(tm) conspiring to bring down America. Well, I’m sure they are watching and chuckling at our pathetic and scatterbrained attempts to help our own people in their time of need. If their goal truly is to kill as many Americans as possible, I’m sure the US government’s response to Katrina is most edifying to them.
What happened to Donald Rumsfeld’s vision of an agile military able to deploy quickly anywhere on the globe? Well, not if actual Americans are in need… our troops are too busy asserting control over global oil production. In addition, what about the federal funding diverted from reinforcing the New Orleans levees due to high costs of Iraq war?