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September 9, 2005

What Will Be Our Response?

Derek Shackelford

There has been - and continues to be - countless hours of news coverage on the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe. For those who have not witnessed the destruction first hand, the only means of identifying with this ordeal is through the print and visual media.

Some of the pictures have been very detailed and graphic - to say the least. The media has control over what pictures we see and what readers digest.

A big problem arises from the coverage when all one sees are people looting, when this is just a small percentage of what is really happening. This coverage diminishes the pleas and cries for help that is needed in that region.

There have been countless deaths reported - as many as 10,000 - and the shame of this is that this is just the beginning. In every situation there are a few who take advantage of a situation and misuse it for selfish purposes. But for the media to play into this is unfair.

There are too many people who are hurting and needing great assistance. What could be used to generate larger discussion issues and humanitarian efforts have been reduced to reporting the misery instead of human decency.

Views from the aerial perspectives are depicted, but those taking the pictures and voicing the background commentary display no human decency by dropping off food and water. Cameramen and reporters canvass the areas to bring the stories to us live while people are suffering.

Somehow, someway human courage and courtesy has to intervene to make a better story.

There has been criticism that the federal government has been slow in responding to the needs of the people. These individuals are not refugees, as reported by the media. People have been displaced from their homes and they are tax paying citizens.

The fact of the matter is many are black, brown, and poor. So to some degree, in this country we continue to denigrate the poor. One can only consider what the response would be if only an affluent part of our nation had been struck by a natural disaster, but that is a story for another time.

There is enough blame to go around, but the key to this dilemma is not what the media is going to do or the federal government is going to offer, but rather what we - as individuals - are going to do about helping people who are family, friends, and neighbors.

Some things in life call us to serve and to challenge a generation to step up to the plate. This is our generation's calling card, sort of a call to fulfill.

That is why I borrow a line from my favorite hip hop group Public Enemy, A rebel with a cause. A cause to help, assist and forget about individualism. Most of all, a cause to help the greater good.

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