TCS Daily

We Know How This Is Going to End

By Ralph Kinney Bennett - September 4, 2005 12:00 AM

We already know how this is going to end.

The American economy will shiver a bit, stagger slightly, adjust itself and absorb the cost of Katrina.


The miserable scumbags who exploited the misery and interfered with the rescue will be arrested, run off or shot.

CNN may get over its hyperventilating, indignant surprise that food, drink and comfort could not be instantly delivered to those who, for whatever reason, remained in the danger zone despite warnings.


We will learn painful lessons from mistakes and failures that will enable the remarkable rescue apparatus we have devised to work better next time.


Slowly the little stories of personal heroism and common decency in the face of misery and chaos will come out.


As usual, the Salvation Army will have performed its sacrificial work with hardly a notice from anyone. And scores of religious groups, churches, synagogues and other organizations like the Red Cross will have brought the essentials of help, from cots to coffee, to those suffering at the ground level of this terrible disaster.


The grim business of finding and identifying the bodies will come to its slow, painful finish.


The strain on oil supply will subside and gasoline prices will retreat.


The economic power plus personal altruism of Americans, which funneled more than a billion dollars in non-governmental aid to the victims of last years Pacific tsunami, will outdo itself.


Yes, millions of dollars will be wasted, misdirected, misspent, stolen. Politics will be played. The media will yammer endlessly. And yet the necessary relief will be delivered.


Lost heirlooms will mysteriously show up in antique stores and flea markets. "Flood cars" will be refurbished and show up on used car lots all over the country.


The Gulf Coast will build over its scars. The viscera of New Orleans will be repaired and restored but the city will never be the same again. The looted shelves of the Wal-Mart will be restocked. Houses will be bulldozed and rebuilt. The casinos will be back in business. Slowly, mysteriously, miraculously the detritus of the hurricane will be cleaned up, trucked away or recycled.


Within the miracle of the market, it will be rediscovered that, indeed (in the 16th century observation of John Heywood) it is "an ill wind that bloweth no man good." Production of everything from the most mundane essentials to the most effete luxuries will increase. There will be work for those who want it.


We will learn or relearn many things about ourselves -- not all good, not all tidy. It will be remembered that we made this unseemly and unexpected passage with perhaps a little too much self-doubt, a little too much impatience and nastiness, a little too much evidence of how spoiled, how forgetful, how complacent before nature we have become.


Nothing can mitigate the loss of loved ones, nor completely assuage the something that is torn from within when a home, however humble, is suddenly, literally gone with the wind and water.


The whole force of who we are as a nation tells us that this time of disaster and chaos, which now looms so large, will not bring us to our knees, but will join other disasters as a vivid memory and a sobering history lesson.


For more coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, and to learn how you can help the victims of this disaster, please visit our special section Tragedy on the Gulf Coast.

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