Ode to the Katrina Dead

The root of all evil is the love of money. Evil also flourishes when people prefer the view in the sand to the view of truth. People died because people in power put their own equilibrium and their love of money ahead of compassion for others.

Most people I know have an emotional relationship with money. They feel entitled; they feel fear; they feel temporary happiness to stave off the bad thoughts; they feel rescued; they feel jealousy. None of these feelings involve compassion or empathy. They're all me-centred. When money or self-interest is the treasure of our heart, then there is no room for people. That's why nursing home operators and hospital administrators focus on their accounting sheets instead of the people under the bed sheets. They give the power of their emotions over to their profit and loss statements. The old lying in a stale bed, lonely, surrounded by others whom they know only through shared sickness, are ignored. If the equilibrium of their emotions is threatened by a looming reality, they'd rather stick their head in the sand so that they can continue to ignore the people they're in business to care for while continuing to feel comfortable in their numbers.

That's how a decision to not evacuate, with all its attendant costs both in dollars and in the potential embarrassment of having over-reacted, comes about. Choose: stock prices, P/E ratios, profits, pride, fear of being attacked for having threatened the profit margin versus saving human lives.

Where your treasure is, there be your heart.

It's easy. Take a calculated risk, just like one does in all business decisions. Then have remorse only when you can no longer hide from the truth because it's on the front page. Then feel the reality of your patients lying helpless in bed, with no strength to get up and flee on their own; helpless as they watch the water seep into the room, crawl over the floor towards their beds, rise up the bed legs, fill the room with the acridity of sewer gases, rise up to the bed rails, wet the edges of the blankets, creep over the top of the sheets, sink down into their hospital gowns, and slip into their lungs.

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