Thursday, August 30, 2012

We interrupt this broadcast....

And once again, the "Cover post" gets postponed. This time, I like to think I have reasonable excuse, though... Hurricane Issac. Right now, I am roughly 1800 miles from Casa Cerio, in the mountain town of New Paltz, NY, staying with relatives.

It's difficult for outsiders to understand the mixed bag of emotions that comes with living in a storm-prone city like New Orleans. In fact, the question I get asked most often during evacuations (right after "is your house still standing") is "Why do you stay?". I hate getting this question, particularly from Californians, who live in a region where the ground is actively trying to kill them with little or no warning.

The fact is that we as a species actually have limited tolerances for the disasters our planet throws at us... our bodies don't handle extremes of temperature, wind velocity, or moisture very well, except for having brains big enough to create protective technology like houses for our fragile forms. If we only chose our living conditions by where the weather is most hospitable to humans, chances are all 7 billion of us would still be living on the African savannah, running from lions. Let me tell you, this fat guy would be the fastest man on earth if that was the case. Ain't no way this guy is going out as lion chow.

As a species, we are explorers by nature. This is primarily because we have learned over the past ten thousand years or so that new lands open up new possibilities in our lives. Outside of Africa, a bounty of natural resources awaited us. Beyond the oceans that divided our planetary land masses, still more splendor awaited the first humans to find it. It's really a romantic notion when you think about it... The first Humans in the gulf region were probably in awe of the fertile soil, the variety of wild game, and the ample building materials. In many ways, the citizens of my adopted hometown still are. For many of us,it's why we return and rebuild after a storm. There is something unique about New Orleans that makes it worth the occasional setback.

Soon, the debates will begin once more about the futility of living in a disaster prone region, with many suggesting that we clear the Mississippi delta region of human habitation for their own safety. They will say that the profit exceeds the cost of keeping a city like New Orleans safe, without having lived there or experienced the things that make living there such an incredible experience. During these talks, no one will suggest evacuating the cities on the San Andreas fault, Tornado alley, or the blizzard prone cities of the great lakes.

Disasters happen, and always will. It is the Human will that allows us to rise above them that should be our focus in the coming months, not our Human stupidity.

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