Observations on Hurricane Harvey’s Long Term Impact
It seems morally questionable to me, in the midst of a humanitarian catastrophe, to gloat about having been correct with respect to its fundamental causes. After all, most of the victims were not “directly” responsible for the complex of actions over time that led to where the residents of the states of Texas and Louisiana find themselves today and it is not the time for anything other than doing everything possible to save lives and property, and to counsel and console those in desperate need.
Still, it is deeply ironic that the two states bearing the brunt of nature’s fury are the loci of so much of the petrochemical industry so responsible for global warming as well as the loci for so much denial with respect to the role of humans in altering, whether slightly or massively, the relatively temperate climate which much of the world has enjoyed during the past millennium. It’s almost as though, as some have warned, nature enjoys a kind of sentience and is not very happy with our particular filament of evolution, a discordant thread in nature’s tapestry.
Of course a more scientific observation leading to similar conclusions is that actions result in reactions which seek to attain or regain a balance. In either case, collectively, whether as active malefactors intent on maximizing short term profits regardless of the costs to others or passively, as disinterested citizens permitting ourselves to be too easily manipulated in our electoral, political and economic decisions, the responsibility for the world as it is and as it is becoming is ours, especially among countries that enjoy even the vestiges of the verisimilitude of democracy.
We need to change our habits but we also need to hold those most responsible to account in the strictest and harshest manner possible. We need to exercise our cognitive tools to see through the propaganda with which we are flooded in a manner even more devastating than the physical flooding to which our fellow citizens are being exposed today, and to eliminate its sources at the roots. That is, if as a species we are to have any hope of surviving, and thriving, and attaining the just and equitable world our progeny deserves. Very high taxes on those most responsible are certainly, the minimum reasonable reaction, but minimum reactions are hardly adequate.
And who are those responsible? Well, … to start with, most directly, those captains of industry and finance who have stealthily assumed real power over our political, economic and environmental processes, but also their employees, lenders and investors. Next but just as importantly, their tools, the means through which they exercise virtually autocratic control over our lives, using velvet covered iron gauntlets: our major political parties and the elected officials and functionaries they impose over us, the mainstream media, and our “entertainment” industry.
While we are set to fighting amongst ourselves over the symbols of purportedly past de jure slavery, we are kept in the same de facto condition, albeit convinced that we’re free, “free at last” as the emblematic anthem of the Afro-American community during the nineteen-sixties, “We Shall Overcome”, so beautifully prophesized. Perhaps it’s time for that anthem to be espoused by all of us and for all of us; working together, rather than polarized as those who rule over us would maintain us if they could.
Perhaps rather than furious, nature is just giving us a heads up, a warning that it’s time to get our acts together before it really is too late. First, let’s do whatever we can to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey and then recall that there are similar victims of similar tragedies all over the world who also need our help. But almost immediately, we also need to begin the internal changes in our psyches, in our habits and in our aspirations necessary to start the process towards our real liberation and to the attainment of the justice, equity and equality that are essential for our common welfare in a world at peace with itself and with the environments of which we are but a part.
Not likely, I know, we are trapped in amber crystals of our own design, encaged in entropy and perhaps as a species too old to change. But as the saying goes, “where there’s life there’s hope”.
Here’s hoping, … Again.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2017; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen). Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at www.guillermocalvo.com.