Who Is Us?

The news is flooded (yes, that’s the right word) with news of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Horrors pile on horrors, and at the same time, the relentless efforts of people all over the world to help, to save, to mitigate, and to relieve tell us something about how we care for one another.

Betty Dudley wrote a superb comment to this post.

She says, in part,

When I see people starving and without water in New Orleans, I wonder what would happen to me, or how I’d behave in this situation. Would anybody share food with a fat woman when resources are this scarce? I look like I could survive, but as a diabetic I’m not sure for how long.
I saw a fat woman being carried in a harness. She was smaller than I am. Could they have taken my weight? Would someone like me be too afraid or too ashamed to even bother trying to be rescued?
Maybe feminism wasn’t of immediate concern to anybody in the Superdome while women were getting raped, but it should have been.

We thought of Betty when we saw this news photo.

There are fat people in the ravaged area. And tourists from around the world, lumped into the underclass regardless of their financial status, because they didn’t have cars when the evacuation orders hit. And diabetics who believed their insulin would spoil if it wasn’t refrigerated (this is a very common myth). People who speak English and people who don’t. People who will rape and murder when there is no law, and people who will do anything they can to protect others from harm.

If you’re in the zone of destruction, then who you are is incredibly important. Your color, your class, your size, your accent, your access to a car, all of these things will have an enormous impact on your choices.

If you’re outside the zone of destruction (as thankfully, we both are), then by our lights, it’s not about efforts like this one. It’s about helping those who need help, concentrating first on the people who get hit the hardest: poor people, women, children, old people, sick people, fat people, you name it.