October 22nd, 2005


new orleans or bust

So. Most of campus has already left for fall break, and I head out to NOLA tomorrow. I can't believe I'm actually going. I'm scared shitless.

These last few weeks I've been feeling like I'm not a good enough person to go on this trip. I haven't raised a dime (we were given three weeks to raise $200), I've missed two mandatory meetings, and I've done nothing but criticize. There are all these amazing, hardened medic/lifeguard types with multiple certifications for emergency medical training, and all these mules who can carry hundreds of pounds of supplies day after day, and all these drivers who are going to go hundreds of miles without sleep, and all these activists who are insanely good at getting shit together--and me, I'm just dead weight. I've contributed nothing to the group so far--all I've done to prepare for this trip is complain a lot and buy my own personal supplies. I haven't done as much as lift a goddamn box. Am I even remotely ready for such a difficult and noble undertaking? Better people than I intentionally put themselves in the way of anarchy and violence when they do not have to. Better people than I put themselves through backbreaking labor and excruciating stress for little or no personal gain. I'm one of the teeming masses, man. I'm one of those guys who watches disasters on TV and shakes his head and thinks nothing more of it. I can almost hear my parents telling me scornfully, "Don't go, Kevin. Don't go. That kind of thing for saints. You think you Jesus? 這麼小的孩子去這麼危險的地方? 不尊!" My secret hope all this week was that Common Ground would tell me they didn't need me, and I could just stay in Talcott and chill like everyone else--fool myself into thinking that I've stressed myself out enough over midterms, and somehow deserve a rest.

Fuck, man, even now I can't help thinking only of myself.

There's some crazy shit going on down there. The news makes it sound like it's all back to normal, but our coordinator Arthur Richards, who came back from there just a few days ago, insists that it isn't true. Anarchy still rules the streets, and after so many months a lot of the hardest hit areas still haven't received any relief whatsoever from FEMA or the Red Cross. Common Ground was raided several months ago by rogue cops with shotguns--they called out one of the volunteers, arrested him for taking a cooler off someone's lawn, and drove him away. He was found in a 4x12 cage in the makeshift prison several law enforcement agencies had set up by the Greyhound station, severely beaten. Claimed that while he was in the cage there were red dots on his head and his chest, and that if he moved the dots would also move. Was released without charge and brought back to Common Ground the next day, seriously in need of medical attention.He had been beaten as he was being arrested, he had been beaten at the prison. He was only sixteen.

If you're thinking, "Wow! I wouldn't be brave enough to go down there after hearing about that," rest assured that neither am I.

But no. There is no turning back now. Anyone can stay at home and do nothing. No one can be blamed for staying at home and doing nothing. It's only human. There is only so much the average Joe can be expected to do--tragedy or no, we all have our own lives to live. But there are people down there who don't have that option. People who have been left with nothing, with no homes to take for granted, with no complacency to return to. If there's no way I can go down there for me, I have to go down there for them. They want outside help. They're asking for outside help. And I could let someone else do it--there's always someone else to do it--but this time there is the opportunity for that someone else to be me. And I figure I'm only going to be this young once, and I'm only going to be this strong once, and I'd better put me to good use before I'm not so useful anymore. Life is too short to waste on yourself.

So I'm going. But there's nothing noble about it, for the only things that are driving me into this are raw momentum and a tragically misguided sense of civic duty. And if I'm not strong enough to do this, may the Holy Spirit carry me. For only God has the courage to voluntarily walk into hell.

May God have mercy.
  • Current Music
    Senses Fail - Save Yourself
  • Tags