Friday, September 2, 2005

New Orleans Destroyed

This is the headline I was waiting for after visiting the city during Christmas. Just like The Big One is always on the mind of a Southern Californian at some level, the final Category 5 hurricane that would drown the city was on the mind of those I came in touch with in New Orleans. They were spared that, but I guess a Category 4 was good enough.

After I'd gotten back and was enchanted by the mystical sinking city and did a little research on it. I read the city was plannning to better protect itself from a large hurricane with higher sea walls and whatnot. I wished at the time that they would stop planning and start doing. I liked New Orleans and I hated the idea that it might one day disappear into the ocean.

Now that that day has finally come. Though the city remains, I'm heartbroken to think that all those beautiful places I visited less than a year ago are now either under water, or filled with refugees and rotting bodies. When I see names like River Walk and other areas I strolled along, the difference between my sunny mental image and the current war zone-like conditions is beyond my comprehension. I imagine the floor of the convention center, no different than any ordinary floor I've ever seen, now stained with feces and bodies. It's like when someone says there are over one thousand of something. My mind doesn't truly understand that. It just knows it's bigger than ten and that ten dead people is too many already. The best I can do is go through my gallery and view the photos I took of New Orleans one by one and imagine it submerged or destroyed.

What the most disheartening news of all isn't the extent of the distruction, the appalling conditions, or the thousands of deaths. It's the fact that when there is so much destruction and suffering, when people need each other the most, there are individuals who are roaming the city, raping, pillaging, burning, and shooting at each other and even hospitals. Every close friend I have can tell you of my obsession with post-apocolyptic stories, for example, the movie 28 Days Later. Basically, anything about the end of the world -- not existance, but of normal civilization. I am so obsessed with them because they reflect my worst fear about humans. I completely believe that humans, when reduced to the most basic level, are merely over-glorified animals and will behave accordingly. I WANT PEOPLE TO SEE THESE STORIES in the desperate yet futile hope that at least some can recognize this in themselves and, when the time comes such as now, fight and rise above it. My hope is all but destoryed to see that, just like in every story about the end of the world, it's not the aliens, zombies, hurricanes, or earthquakes that are the true enemy, it's humans, ourselves.

The stories coming out from New Orleans, the REAL stories, disgust me. I am ashamed. Those who are shooting, raping, destroying, desserve either to be shot on sight or to live a very long life full of pain, agony, and suffering. They deserve the worst this world has to offer. Those of you who believe in a benevolent God or believe humans are somehow superior, take a long hard and cold look. Then look in the mirror and smile. See those sharp canines in your mouth? They're meant to kill and tear flesh from your victims.

That said, for the vast majority of you still in New Orleans who are decent and just trying to survive, I send my best wishes. I know expressing my sorrow, indignation, and well-wishing won't do you any good, but I hope my donation does. Hopefully, with enough time and effort, New Orleans can be reborn as a new and equally beautiful city as the one I left not so long ago and hopefully your lives can be mended just as well.