I spent much of my typhoon day last Thursday glued to various Internet news sites, reading about Hurricane Katrina and her aftermath. While Taiwan overall safely weathered its latest typhoon, with many that trudged back to work on Friday stepping among downed trees, I was struck by the difference in situations back in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
The tragedy arouses many emotions in me: shame, from the government's glaring incompetence, particurlarly in light of its promotion of the American model abroad; horror at the looting, shooting, and overal ugliness of human nature; and urgency, as I myself don't really stock up for typhoons. Mostly, though, it makes an uncomfortable gumbo of questions and thoughts: about why, as an American, I choose to live abroad. Of disgust with a government I did not vote for. Of believing in the system of democracy, but also wondering why I seem to think so differently from the majority of the American population. Is the U.S. becoming a place I would not want my own children to grow up in, with values that I myself do not hold?
Richard Haass, writes in Slate, "In the end, American power is a reflection of the strength of the American economy and the cohesion of American society."
What does Hurricane Katrina reveal about American society?