I have been avoiding TV coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation of New Orleans. I can imagine it far too vividly just from what I read in newspapers and on the web. I do not dare to look at the desolation reflected in the eyes of real people.
What haunts me is not the disaster itself, not the storm, the wind and rain flooding and destroying a vibrant city, not the people driven from their homes or the destruction of so many things. Nature is capricious. Such things do happen, and they are tragic.
What truly haunts me are the stories flying northward now, carried over wire and air and fiber-optic cable, stories of further devastation caused by humans.
Looting I expect. I do not care about looting. If people need food, fresh water, blankets, in cases like this, it is better in the hands of those who need it than stocking a store shelf waiting for a recovery that may never come.
Darker stories there are than of theft.
People are fighting, killing each other, raping each other. A sniper stood shooting people trying to evacuate a hospital. People have stolen guns and are trying to shoot at the police, the National Guard, and the emergency medical personnel.
I have no answers. I do not know why this is happening. A part of me points calmly to events in history, studies in sociology and psychology, of what happens when terror and stress take control of people who have nothing left. Another part of me recognizes this as evil and cries out in fear. And yet another part is kindled to bright fires of anger, but all of it together is confusion, wondering what I might do to help drive back this darkness of souls which threatens.
Because, you see, if it happens in New Orleans, it can happen anywhere. The fury of the storm itself will play out and end, every time. The descent into madness, though? Of that I cannot say.
Today where I am, the sky is a pure bright blue, the brightest blue of bright September. And yet it still seems dark today. The world is not what it was.
Abundant light and ordinary civilization are locked in battle with desperation, somewhere many miles to the south and in other cities all over the world.
And this is why I cannot watch the TV news. Hand me a sword and I will battle bravely, give me light and I will shine it, bring me those who are hurt and I will do what I can to comfort them. But I cannot bear to see the raging of those darkened souls reflected in those eyes.