It's easy to cast us as immoral or lazy or welfare dependent, but it's not as easy to admit that you are in the same social class and economic boat that 75-80% of New Orleanians were on August 28,2005, which means you are equally prepared for disaster. It's not as easy to go on about daily life once you know that the insurance companies you paid for coverage will leave you out in the cold too when you need it but that you better keep working hard to pay those premiums anyway because you'll lose your home if you don't. It's easy to ignore the fact that lazy, dependent people wouldn't be here working full time jobs and then going home at night to fix their houses themselves because they haven't seen a dime of insurance money or the phantom $110 billion Bush swears he sent down here. It's easy to blame local government officials for ineptitude and not so easy to understand that they too are awake at night trying to figure out how to afford insurance premiums and how to come up with the local 10% match for FEMA funds that the federal government has waived in every other disaster except this one. It sure as hell ain't easy to enjoy life knowing that even though the U.S. Corps of Engineers published several hundred pages admitting the levees failed because of them, the feds aren't obligated to compensate you for the losses they caused. It's easier to say "they should have known better!" than to admit that most Americans live in disaster-prone areas and to not believe those who protect you when they say you're safe. It's easier than being here to say from way over there that we're not doing anything to reopen schools when you've never met the superintendent and school staff who are on their 19th month of 4 hours of sleep each night, or the parents who trek their kids across town and back because their neighborhood school is closed, or the parents who get their kids to school regardless of how far away they had to live -- this week, or the cafeteria and maintenance workers who catch a commuter bus 1.5 hours each way everyday to get to work.
It's not easy to feel helpless with the knowledge that the death rate here is still 50% higher than it was pre-Katrina and that it ain't crime that's killing them (unless you count the price-gouging, insurance fraud white-collar type of crime). It's a hell of alot easier to pontificate from on high than it is to open the daily paper to find that 19 months later your fellow Americans in the New Orleans area are still dying from the stress of losing everything they had and from spending every moment worrying, rebuilding, and fighting to stay out of another bout of deep despair. And let me tell you, lazy and dependent people don't feel that level of stress and fatigue.
I guess if I lived somewhere else, I'd sleep better too if I didn't let myself understand that horrible things happen to good, hard-working people like me and that the world is not at all fair or just. God knows it was easier for me to get through the day when I thought that living right, working hard, paying taxes, and being self-sufficient and moral all but guaranteed me a secure existence.