It passed us by and we became neighbors
Just walked in my garden, sun shining, light breeze in the air. Although the city has experienced power loss in thousands of homes as a result of downed power lines, my house has electrical power, no damage to trees at all.
Rita spared Houston, just brushing us with light winds and barely 1/2 inch of rain. It’s a strange sensation to be facing death and destruction one moment and then to suddenly realize that there is no danger at all. Awake most of last night, there were times when I was not sure that I was awake. It was midnight, then 2 AM, and yet there was no rain, no hurricane winds. Just calm. Eerie. It did not seem right. And yet it was. It passed us by.
Friends and my partner’s family in Port Arthur and Beaumont, Texas were able to evacuate but our hearts are with them as they ponder returning to flooded devastation.
For the most part, there was consonance between what the local media was reporting and what we were living. It’s not only the fact that there was not a single commercial announcement (not a single one over the course of days). It’s that with non-glitz demeanor, respect, and clarity, reportage lost its fatuousness and had simplicity, weight. It was a vehicle of community.
Not so for national media, which I hardly watched. What became clear to me was that local media was human because the management and employees became neighbors to those they were covering. How could they not be when it was their friends and neighbors who were displaced, hungry, suffering deprivation and powerlessness. “Who is my neighbor?” Media can be guided by this question as they cover the war in Iraq, genocide in Darfur and poverty in the US.
Yesterday I kept thinking, “I just want this to end.” That phrase of lamentation will probably stay with me and my media work for a long time.
I’m going to sleep for a long time now.