By Donna Williams
America’s TsunamiI’m terribly sorry these things are happening in the US. Australia is called a country of drought and flooding rains. We have bushfires every year. In Ash Wednesday we lost many towns, villages, rainforest, animals and some lives. In Cyclone Tracey it flattened the city of Darwin completely. I lived near Worcestershire in the UK when Worcestershire was hit but flash flooding and shops and homes were a meter under water and the road into Worcester passed not through fields anymore but through two massive lakes that stretched on and on. I was in a flash flood that hit my own city, not at all like New Orleans but we were all in an exodus walking out of the city for miles up to our waists and chests with rushing water suddenly gushing fast down side streets and all our trams halted so it was walk or nothing. Back at my flat, mine was ok but my friends was lower and under water and we all pulled together and helped where we could. Another year I was in a library during a gale that blew the roof off the college library and everyone upstairs ran down with umbrellas soaked and the computer room had no roof and electricals popped all over the place, so I can imagine how scary this must be if its like all these things put together.
Many people in the world think of America as able to take care of itself (we have a saying which goes ‘you’re big enough to take care of yourself’). But what does a country do when it has a president that has spent so much of its budget and manpower being involved in other countries it reserved too little for major disasters in its own? Whilst many people may have no time for the president of the US, George W Bush, it is not him who is suffering right now, it is real people, the poor people of New Orleans without a car or enough money to evacutate in time before Hurricane Katrina hit and left them in a lake that once was a city, a lake filling with sewerage in a place where people have begun killing for access to food and water, in the absence of social structure. For them it is the end of the world, their world. The lucky ones got out but tens of thousands are still trapped there, babies and infants, the elderly, people with disabilities, men, women, now threatened by disease, by hunger, by violence, and the water, animals among them, not merely the four legged kind but the armed gangs who have seized guns and are shooting innocent people.
So when you think of America, think of these people and the lucky ones who got out, their homes and jobs gone, nothing to return to, many of whom have only strangers to turn to in places they’ve never even been before. If you think America is the enemy, look at these faces. They could so easily be your own. There have been times they were the faces of those in your own countries who saw a kinder face of America when it was on the other end of food parcels, clean water, tents and rescue equipment, medical treatment units, not guns and bombs. And that kinder face is what America’s people are looking for right now; those in New Orleans and every American who looks on with compassion and empathy and pleads ‘where are our resources now we need them? Can we not do more?’.
The Red Cross is an international organisation which gives aid in times of natural disasters like this one, America’s Tsunami. If you want to make a statement to America that you care about people, without predjudice for its country’s politics (and almost 50% of American’s did NOT vote for Bush and many were unable to vote), its people’s race or nationality, then help these people as you would help your own. After the rhetoric, beyond the mindsets through which we see others we think of as foreign, perhaps irrelevant, we are all the same, mirrors of each other and who we might, in different circumstances, be. The website for the Redcross is www.redcross.org
Thank you for taking the time.
… Donna Williams *)