I read a diary here this morning that seriously distressed me. Oh sure, s/he's entitled to his/her opinion, but the sheer cold-hearted and deliberate advocation to violate the social contract we all agree to implicitly by living in America is what distressed me. Since I am also entitled to my opinion, too.
Today is the anniversary of the Murrah Bombing, a disaster that brought the nation together. There was never a moment during the rescue and clean-up and after that anyone at any point said "We won't help because their politicians suck", or "They don't deserve help because they live in a Red State" or "They'll just waste the money we give them" or worse.
And I've heard far worse in subsequent disasters.
We, the people of the United States of America, have an understood social contract. It's the same social contract any group of people living in the same geographic area has, any city or nation.
Part of that contract says: When disaster hits, you help one another recover from it. You ignore social levels, and wealth levels, and political leanings, and ideologies to pull together until the disaster is over. Then you get to go back to bickering and back-stabbing.
You don't back-stab your neighbors, your fellow citizens, during a disaster. You don't hold their differing ideologies against them to "justify" not helping them. You don't seek to make a profit off of them until after they've recovered a bit.
Those who do used to be viewed as pariahs. There was always a taint on them. "Carpet bagger" is an insult for a good reason.
We help those who are caught up in a disaster and suffer as a result because, if for no other reason, we might be the ones caught in the next disaster.
Wynnewood, a city off I-35 between Oklahoma City and the Texas border, has a refinery there. From time to time, that refinery blows up. Most of the time, only the refinery is damaged and no one is hurt. But those who do suffer in the refinery's balls of fire get help - no questions.
From time to time, a grain silo explodes. It happens. Those who suffer from it get the help they need.
Tornadoes devastate the midwest (and other parts of the country, too - I've heard of tornadoes in Florida, not a state I associate with tornadic activity - hurricanes, yes, but tornadoes?). Once the tornado passes, we're there, offering shelter, helping clean up and rebuild. Ditto for hurricanes.
I can't begin to tell you the disgust I had for the people who crawled out of the scum of their festering hatred to blame and accuse the people who suffered so horribly in the hurricanes Katrina and Rita, to refuse to help because they were "sinful", and to accuse them of looting when often they were simply trying to survive.
That was the greatest breach of the social contract I'd ever seen in my entire unsheltered and out there in the great big world struggling to get by I'd ever seen.
These people had weathered any number of prior hurricanes without needing to evacuate. Many who stayed were the poorest people, the ones who feared for their jobs, their livelihood if they left, who had nowhere else to go, who couldn't afford to leave. They got trapped. They suffered not just from the disaster, but from the hands and hearts of the very people who should have been right there helping.
Yes, many Americans did go to the rescue, did open their homes and pour resources into the area - but others actively blocked that help -some even placed up road barriers that prevented the helpers from reaching those who needed the help.
What kind of an America is that?
I'll tell you it's not MY America.
In my America, when disaster strikes, we are so there. With shelter, and food, and clean clothes, potable water, medicines and first aid. We are there with chain saws and hard hats, with lumber and back hoes. We are there with what's needed.
We don't question the politics of the people in the center of the disaster.
We don't refuse to help because their religion is different, or their skin color.
We don't deny assistance because they are too poor to pay for the help.
We don't refuse to help because some preacher claims his god told them the suffering were "unworthy".
We don't refuse to help because they might be drug addicts or thieves.
We don't refuse aid because they might be atheists or pagans or muslims or baptists.
I don't want my country to be a country that says we must prove ourselves worthy before we can receive help, and then require us to meet impossible standards of worthiness.
My country has a heart and a soul.
When disaster strikes, we don't ask "Who did they vote for?", "where do they go to church?", "how much money do they have?", "are they without sin?".
We ask, "What do you need?"
We say, "We have shelter for you - and your little doggie, too." (or your 40 cats...).
We say, "We have clean clothes, hot showers, good food, and medicine for your wounds."
We say, "We have volunteers to help you clean up and rebuild."
And we say, "You are worthy because you are my neighbor."
Those people who demand that those caught in a disaster must prove some degree of worthiness before rendering aid - those people are not upholding the social contract we have with our neighbors and fellow citizens. Those heartless, demanding people are the exact reason why our society has become less kind, less forgiving, and meaner. They are not good citizens. They lack good manners.
I know they lack good manners because even during the disaster, as people die, are wounded, weep over lost family members and friends, lost homes and mementos, they say the horrible words no well-mannered person would say.
I say shame on them. Shame on those who would deny aid to people suffering in a disaster and its aftermath. Shame on them for adding to the pain. Shame on them for showing how mean and heartless and cruel they are.
Shame on them.
I truly, truly hope they never suffer in a disaster of any proportion, but if they do, I know I will ignore their cruel, heartless nature to reach out and help them get through the disaster.
May they learn some manners, and may they grow a heart before they experience a disaster of their own.
And dear ghods - keep their fucking mouths shut about the people suffering in a disaster until they grow that heart.