Katrina. Indeed, it is such a beautiful name; so unfitting for a storm that left such tantamount death, destruction, and despair in her wake. The devastation of Hurricane Katrina leaves one speechless, which is a lot to say for this loudmouth of an American Muslim blogger. I heard someone say that Hurricane Katrina will be our Asian Tsunami. Well, he was absolutely right. And all I can say is, “Lord help us.”
To see home, after home, after home ripped off the face of the earth; to see age-old trees snap under the force of Katrina’s winds; to see water rise to the level of rooftops; to see cities and towns reduced to heaps of rubble. All I can say is, “Lord help us.”
To see thousands of people stranded on the roofs of their houses; to see human beings – ravaged by Katrina’s fury – herded into a sports stadium like animals; to see looting and lawlessness grow like a cancer, yet remembering that these people are hungry, naked, and homeless. All I can say is, “Lord help us.”
To see a government slow and sloppy in response; to see a President inept and indifferent to this tragedy; to hear a Homeland Security director argue with a radio anchor about facts on the ground; to see an Administration fumble in the face of misfortune. All I can say is, “Lord help us.”
To see gas prices soar fifty cents in 24 hours; to see people shoot at medical helicopters; to see engineers try – and fail – to plug the holes in the levees; to see a President say – incorrectly – that “no one anticipated” the levees breaking. All I can say is, “Lord help us.”
This is a dark moment in our nation’s history. It is a time of deep anguish and despair. There are people dying of heat, hunger, thirst, and disease right at this moment. But they do not come from the Third World. No. They come from the Big Easy; they come from the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth. It is almost too much to think about, too much to put one’s mind around. And all I can say is, “Lord help us.”
Funny, isn’t it, how we have the ability, money, and wherewithal to invade a country thousands of miles away in the desert – for no good reason – to save them from the grips of tyranny and oppression? Yet, “it takes time” to send food, water, and supplies to the southern end of our own country. Funny, isn’t it, how we miraculously found $1 billion to spend per day in Iraq, but we could not find the money to shore up the flood protection for New Orleans? Funny, isn’t it, that our President flew back to Washington in the middle of the night – in his pajamas – to intervene to keep Terri Schiavo alive, yet he didn’t do the same thing for the thousands of stranded residents of New Orleans?
All I can say is, “Lord help us.”
I urge every one of you – including the author – to donate as much as possible to the hurricane relief effort. May the Lord God speedily provide nourishment, shelter, and comfort to every last one of Katrina’s victims. Amen.
Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago physician and writer. He is the co-author of “The Beliefnet Guide to Islam,” published by Doubleday in 2006. His blog is at godfaithpen.com.