She give me love, love, love, love, crazy love
Lucy Lawless loves New Orleans. Which is awesome. And very very welcome. Sure, there’s some random craziness in there, but a kick-ass lesbian super-hero without a little crazy is like a beignet without powdered sugar. I couldn’t find a permalink to her message, so I’m including it after the jump.
Ohhhh, New Orleans! How I love you.
It was wonderful to see the pulse quickening down in the French Quarter, but it is certainly an isolated island in a sea of darkness come nightfall. There is no electricity in many areas, which is hampering rebuilding. My N.O. friends tell me that while single folk are starting to get curious about returning, families won’t start coming back till January and truthfully, for thousands and thousands, there is nothing but toxic waste to come home to. The heavy metals deposited by flooding have covered miles with poison mud, now dried to a thick dusty crust. Bulldozing kicks up a lot of mercury, arsenic etc. which is an added hindrance to recovery.
Today a Louisiana native came to stay with us till she gets on her feet. She’s relocating to LA. She has lived here before and did not love it, but she is strong, talented and resourceful and she’s going to make it.
The police and emergency services begged me to keep talking about New Orleans. They feel so alone and they fear that everybody has forgotten about them. I’m afraid they might be partially right. I am just sick at their isolation and their vulnerability. Any kind word of support just makes them melt. Forget any stain of corruption or rats jumping ship. These officers and emergency personnel have remained at their posts through thick and thin. Their marriages are under awful strain, their children are living far away. In many, many cases their houses are destroyed and some have lost family members to the flooding and the pestilence that followed.
The wealth of a nation is not about having a Walmart at every off-ramp. It is not about a free clothes iron with your mail-order vacuum cleaner. It is about the quality of caring between strangers. Last year, I visited Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries on Earth, where 80% of usable land floods every year. I have seen poverty, and more pernicious inter-generational poverty, which destroys the fabric of caring even to the point of mothers throwing their 4-year-old children on the roofs of trains just to get rid of them. I understand now that even the mother-child bond is eroded, destroyed or never develops where survival is threatened. What hope then for the bonds between strangers?
Hurricane Katrina has lifted the lid on our own dirty laundry. The poverty that we have too long ignored, the ecology that we have undermined further stressed inadequate infrastructures for the above and blasted out of the water the hopes and dreams of hundreds of thousands of people.
It seems a bitter joke that, like Blanche Dubois, New Orleans natives have come to rely on the kindness of strangers. But to me this care is the glue that binds us in a social compact. You cannot have civilisation where there is no trust/respect between strangers. It proves the strength of a nation. This is Unity. It seems to me that this is something the United States should know something about. This holiday season we could forgo the latest gizmo and pledge a gift to a stranger in our community, or in New Orleans or even overseas. Every time we do this we add a thread to the fabric of care that binds all beings on this planet far more securely than all the political manoeuvring in the world.
Let us be Conscious.