MountainWings       A MountainWings Moment
#5248              Wings Over The Mountains of Life

Watch the Hoodlums

Many of you have heard newscasters say that Katrina is the worst
U.S. disaster since 1906. The San Francisco earthquake and fires
were in 1906. The MountainWings issue, "Heroes and Hoodlums"
included an excerpt from a Navy Lieutenant detailing the mob
that looted saloons and became so drunk and disorderly that many
men and women died in the fires that destroyed the city because
they were drunk.

They refused to help unless they were paid forty cents an hour.

People may think that when disaster strikes that humans sink to
their lowest levels of morality and behavior. Not so.
You find both heroes and hoodlums in disaster.

You will notice one common factor in the 1906 San Francisco
drunken mobs and the 2005 New Orleans group causing trouble.

The New Orleans group has a large percentage of blacks.
The San Francisco group was all white.

Race was NOT the common factor.

It was not religion.
The dominate religion of both was Christian.

There was no hip-hop music, no TV, no heavy metal music,
no crack cocaine or other modern drugs in 1906.

But there was a common factor.

From the Lieutenant's report, "this poor residence district..."
"The most heartrending sights were witnessed in this neighborhood."

The common factor was poor neighborhoods.

Both groups felt oppressed, deprived, overlooked, misused, and
mostly abandoned by society. You have to be in the situation to
really understand the emotions that feeling oppressed can breed.

It doesn't just last for a few days either. Often you are born
into it and realize that most likely you will die in it.


When the earthquake hit San Francisco 99 years ago, some took to
the streets and looted saloons and got drunk.

When Katrina hit New Orleans some took to the streets and took
items they thought were of material value.

The thing that most don't see and that the news does not
emphasize is that it is NOT most of the people, only a minority.
Most of the people from the neighborhood in San Francisco did
not loot the saloons, only a portion, but it was that portion
and minority who got written up and talked about in the
Lieutenant's report because they were out front causing trouble.

Some would not help others unless they were paid because they
felt society had been robbing them all along and they weren't
going to help "those" folks unless someone paid them.

I don't condone what either group did, but I can understand how
feeling oppressed, misused, and abandoned can create pent up
hostility and resentment.

I sold newspapers when I was a boy in both the rich and poor
neighborhoods of Atlanta. I had the ability to feel the spirit
in the house the minute the door was opened.

There was joy and depression, good and bad, in both rich and poor
areas but economic strife born of oppression and hopelessness
adds an extra layer of stress that multiplies problems.

Perhaps the real disaster was neither Katrina nor the earthquake.
It was the conditions that created such neighborhoods in the
first place while all around them was excessive wealth.

Perhaps that is the real disaster, and perhaps the real hoodlums
don't live in poor neighborhoods. The real hoodlums don't use
ghetto guns. They don't shoot at helicopters; they own them.

There is nothing wrong with being rich. But there is something
wrong with getting richer and exploiting others to make yourself
wealthier beyond what you will ever need or spend.

Tell me if you don't feel robbed when you fill up your car.

Tell me if you don't feel robbed when you get your heating bill
this winter and it is double the high bills of last year.

Tell me if you don't feel robbed when you can't afford the gas
to get to work or to take your child to baseball practice.

If you can't afford the gas to get to work, guess which
neighborhood you are headed to?

While you were watching people wade down the street with a few
purloined items, did you notice that YOUR wallet was much lighter?

A real good pickpocket takes your money, and you don't realize
he's got it.

It's called the art of distraction.

So sit back in your easy chair, and watch the hoodlums.

Heroes and Hoodlums

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