Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Evacuation Tragedies

The devastation in, and now total evacuation of, New Orleans is nothing short of horrifying.

The connection between this evacuation and the recent evacuation of Jews from Gaza has tempted some to consider this a divine punishment. While the attempt to find significance in this seemingly meaningless tragedy is commendable, there seem to me to be no reasonable midah ke-neged midah connection at all between the two events.

However, perhaps one message to extract from this incredible tragedy is how bad things can really get. Being forcibly evacuated from your community for political reasons with which you disagree seems to me to pale in comparison to being forced by overwhelming floods to climb to the roof of your house, watch your entire community disintegrate for no apparent reason, and hope that an army helicopter can rescue you from your rooftop before you die. The evacuation of 9,000 people from their communities to inadequate housing facilities, while heart-wrenching, is not quite the humanitarian disaster of tens of thousands of people currently living in shelters and even a sports stadium. Let me be clear that my heart cries for all those who were forced out of their homes. I am thankful that I don't have to choose between either types of evacuation; but if I did, the clear lesser evil is having the opportunity to pack all my belongings and leave with dignity.

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