As I learn more and more about New Orleans and the effects of Hurricane Katrina, I keep asking myself, what is wrong with humanity? By definition, humanity is characterized by humanness or benevolence, but how is it humane to knowingly flood a city? (It’s like reading Watchmen, knowing that Adrian Veidt is plotting the end of the world, but also knowing that while it may bring world peace, thousands of people will suffer. Blank isn’t always beautiful, folks.) After all, how is it humane do absolutely nothing when you knew that the levees were breaking and the city was going to flood?
I was in New Orleans for spring break (no, not for the alcohol or sex on Bourbon Street—with streets glowing with neon signs that read “Half Assed Beers,” or the “Hurricane,” culmination of sex, jazz and liquor), but to help rebuild the houses in the 7th Ward.
Bourbon Street, New Orleans on Saint Patrick’s Day. Photograph taken by Qina Liu.
During my stay, I met a man who told me how a group of volunteers from Michigan stole all his belongings, when claiming to help fix up his house.
“Katrina didn’t do so much [damage]. People destroyed my house,” he told me. He who should remain anonymous was a residence of the 7th Ward of New Orleans. Living in community like New Orleans, the man told me that he couldn’t trust people anymore.
I just find it so sad that people would steal in the spirit of helping their neighbor. I mean, how can you steal from people who have nothing? How can you live with yourself, pushing charter schools into the area while many of the people still haven’t recovered from Katrina? Perhaps I am naïve to think that people were fundamentally good and humane, but how can you not want to help humanity and still remain human?
Bourbon Street, New Orleans. Photograph by Qina Liu.