Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Hurricane Sandy - Losing the Disaster Lottery
I don't have cable or dish TV, so I Googled last night to find live news feeds to stay updated on the hurricane. It was emotionally draining to see and hear of the stories of devastation. I stayed up too late and when I finally slept, I dreamt of disasters. I was tired all day trying to work. But I kept on looking for those updates throughout the day. I crashed after work, sleeping for an hour or so and waking up disoriented.
It feels so strange that so many of us can just have a normal, even perfect, day, when on the other side of the country such havoc reigns. And, in fact, the storm is not over. Strong winds and heavy rains still cover a huge swath of the country and up into Canada now.
I guess I should appreciate my good fortune and be grateful I was not a victim of the disaster. But it's hard for me to look at it that way. I keep coming around to the thought, it could happen to me and my loved ones. I do appreciate that our government has programs in place to provide safety for people during the disaster and then help to rebuild infrastructure. I take some comfort in that.
It got me thinking about all the huge debate over government disaster assistance and it struck me that this is not unlike the healthcare debate. On the one hand, some say the government has no right to take my money to help others. Donations to help should be voluntary. Others say we have an obligation to help our fellow men, and individuals and charity organizations alone are sometimes not enough.
One thing I firmly believe, it is not right that some are wiped out by losing in the lottery of a natural disaster or a devastating illness. I cannot join with those who congratulate themselves that they have not suffered such things and who would do away with safety net programs. Out of simple human caring, I think it's right to pool our money to provide some sort of insurance to help those who find themselves victims of such events. And we should do what more we can individually as well.
But then, I am a bleeding heart liberal.