Saturday, September 09, 2006

Right vs. Wrong

Link above -
It doesn't take a genius to figure out what's wrong with New Orleans. It's a long and formidable list with deep, deep roots. Loren Feldman has posted what he sees as the problems that face New Orleans in the future. He may not know that those were the same problems that we already know and that have faced us in the past. Many who visited New Orleans before Katrina probably did not have any idea that our educational infrastructure was fractured, broken, and on its last legs (leading to an uneducated populace trapped in a vicious cycle), that corruption in local government was something we got mad about but really don't know how to control (hoping the next guy or girl will be more honest and forthright and transparent than those before him/her), that the insurance commission has tried to help with unscrupulous and unethical insurance companies for years, that black on black crime (and all crime) is a plague that our city cannot seem to figure out how to combat, that leadership in New Orleans means bringing in tourists and putting a happy face to the rest of the world. And this is but a fraction of the real problems. It is my gut feeling that many people choose to ignore because when you love something as deeply as people tend to love New Orleans, you accept the good with the bad. You wish she would change, but if she changed she wouldn't be the same as the city you fell in love with. Some things may annoy you, but you can deal with it. New Orleans makes people feel alive from the depths of their soul. How do you explain that through a blog or a 10 minute video on youTube.com? (This, to me, is one of the more difficult things I contend with - A city that makes people feel so alive is teetering on the brink of death. I know the good people there are trying desperately to resucitate the city. I think I speak on behalf of a lot of people when I say that I hope they succeed and more.)

To those who live in New Orleans after Katrina, those problems have a chance to be righted. But only if safety and security can be assured for its residents. How can anyone (and why would anyone) bother to make massive improvements to anything when the future is so uncertain? Just because I am a teacher, I think about it this way. The school system was in shambles; the state had taken over most of the schools in Orleans Parish. How do you go about rebuilding a broken system? Do you build and staff schools all over the city again? Do you just build and staff schools where children are? What happens in 5 years when people come back? Do we plan for the future or do we simply manage with charter schools? Do we try to build with a plan for the future or simply the current reality? If there are no assurances, all a person can do is hope that the future will even exist. This model can be extended to virtually anything going on in New Orleans now. Home building? Hell, home gutting. Water and sewage? Streets and roads? The Regional Transportation System? How do you know what you can count on now that the thing has happened?

To an outsider, those problems seem to be the root of all the bad things in New Orleans. They may be. We know we have lots of work to do. We don't like being told what to do. (Does anyone, really?) But we like to agree and smile and nod. Then, when the people telling us what to do leave, we go back to doing things the way we want. Loren doesn't have bad points. He really doesn't. But he also doesn't quite get it. None of those problems matter if there are no levees, no wetlands protection, and no assurance that these things will be fixed. If we aren't here, those issues aren't here either. To me, that's what he doesn't get.

To Loren and the other 1938Media, blogheraldeers, etc.: Thank you for coming to New Orleans. Thank you for your reporting. Thank you for your insight. And thank you for presenting our problems to your readers. The world needs more people to come down to NOLA and talk to people to find out what's really going on. Reading blogs is one way to find out information. Writing a blog is a way to disseminate the same. Looking and pictures and reading reports and watching video is another. But visiting New Orleans firsthand and giving your account should be acknowledged as something positive. Fight the good fight. Report, post, and opine. The world needs to hear our story.

1 comment:

saintseester said...

This is a good article. People keep saying things like, "they are crazy to rebuild" and "taxpayers shouldn't have to pay" I just cannot figure out how to explain the death of a city to people, to help them see that new orleans matters. I think so many people are used to the modern american city which is interchangeable with most other modern american cities. Why continue to try to fix it when you can just move? It is so frustrating, and I don't even live in new orleans anymore.