Things You Shouldn't Think About at the Beach
I'm beginning to think it's personal. Chicago and Northern Illinois has been hit with a series of storms, but we escaped before the worst passed through on Thursday. Never fear, though--the rain has found us at the beach. We had a nice day on Friday, but this morning we woke up to thunder and drizzle. I took a look at the doppler radar, and the storms seemed to be spontaneously generating right on top of us. That's not what we expected, but it's giving us time to do some things we might not otherwise have done.
One of those things was to watch the first half of Spike Lee's excellent documentary about Katrina and its aftermath in New Orleans, When the Levees Broke. This dredged up all the outrage, frustration, and helplessness sparked by the storm, but it also made me take a look at Katrina's place in our larger society right now. A major American city continues to struggle back to any sense of normal life, and it's really nothing more than a footnote in the failed presidency of George W. Bush. When it comes to anything that the disaster should've taught us about the larger state of our domestic infrastructure, we've closed our ears and eyes. Levees that can't withstand the pressure aren't particularly different than bridges that collapse, and neither of them will be isolated events as everything else in this country continues to age without any updates or improvements. But this isn't a conversation we're interested in having. We got a bit of lip service in the presidential sweepstakes after the bridge fell in Minneapolis, but for the life of me, I can't remember if anybody said anything worth paying attention to. The mainstream media is having too good of a time playing politics with whatever slight the Democratic frontrunners declared most recently or watching the smearing of the latest national figure to suggest that maybe keeping troops in Iraq indefinitely isn't the greatest idea.
We seem to slowly be sliding off the rails with no one in sight who can take charge and inspire change. Our troubles are large enough that every now and again people will stop and think, "Something's not right," but they're not so large that we can't build an intricate wall of denial to wish them away. We refuse to examine anything we don't want to know about, so whatever rot is setting in can slowly spread until there won't be enough left to salvage. How many more bridges have to collapse? What happens when the next American city is devastated by natural disaster--tornadoes, flooding, an earthquake?
But we don't want to think about such things. Especially while we're at the beach.