September 7, 2005
Katrina shows dark side of human behavior
Does the lawless behavior of New Orleans' urban gangsters
mean that American society is one storm away from anarchy
and an even further loss of integrity?
Yes, it does. Looting and robbing are behaviors controlled
by social constraints and laws. Selfishness, cruelty,
criminality and dishonesty are often referred to as the "dark
side" of human behavior. They're held in check,
for most people, by healthy and constructive interpersonal
relationships along with civil and criminal regulations.
Penalties for criminality sustain stability.
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, criminals are using
guns to plunder their communities, intimidating victims.
These are nasty people, but not that different from felons
who are rich and powerful corporate executives convicted
and sentenced for fraud and malfeasance. High-ranking
individuals from Andersen Consulting, WorldCom, Enron
and HEALTHSOUTH were found guilty of unbridled greed-driven
criminal behavior. They stole money in broad daylight,
using sophisticated accounting practices. Society has
serious integrity issues that need to be addressed, soon:
among the rich, the poor and those in between.
The hideous actions of these thugs, preying upon the
helpless at their most vulnerable moments, have been
made clear by a responsible media. Anti-social behavior
cannot be tolerated or explained away.
Firing rifles at life-saving helicopters, attacking
vehicles transporting medical professionals to and from
hospitals and using the cloak of darkness to rape and
murder are indefensible actions. Tired and frightened,
hundred of thousands of hurricane and flood victims have
no lights, no communications, no water, no food, no police
and little hope.
New Orleans' urban vultures and others in rural areas
along the Mississippi and Alabama coast have seized the
moment to plunder. Viciousness must be universally condemned,
whether looting stores or gouging citizens with outrageous
profit taking; whether for food, water, medical supplies
or gasoline. Bandits come in many forms.
Hurricane Katrina of August 2005 reminds us of the
fragile line between dignified human behavior and the
violent life of the animal kingdom. Lions, dogs, hawks,
snakes, gorillas and sharks hunt for food and instinctively
protect their turf. When humans are frightened, frantic,
thirsty, hungry, or abandoned, then anger and violence
are likely consequences. Dire circumstances provoke dramatic
reactions. Those who choose to profiteer in times of
pain are bottom-feeders.
Before condemning the citizens of a city, state or
region because a small percentage of people are adding
to the chaos, take the time to look carefully at the
faces of the victims.
Listen to their stories. If you are able, then offer assistance.
Encourage prosecution of criminals. Regardless, pray for
the victims to manage their losses and their health, enabling
them to regain hope that integrity is alive along with