at the time of hurricane katrina, to be honest, i felt very detached from the tragedy. i've never been to new orleans, i don't personally know anyone who was affected by the storm, and other than what i absorbed from glimpses of the news and my parents or friends telling me, i did not know much about it. i do not watch the news often. i don't know if that is due more to a willing ignorance about current events or lack of time. actually i think it's partly due to the way in which news is delivered. i am never especially shocked or moved by things i see on tv, until there is a first-hand account. learning facts about horrible events from relatively calm and collected newscasters is completely different from hearing and seeing the raw emotion in someone who has really been affected by an event. once i see and hear that, it's like i suddenly realize that the pain of that person is multiplied by however many people were involved in and impacted by the tragedy and the tragedy becomes real to me. then the immensity of all the grief and suffering hits me.
perhaps that's why "when the levees broke" brought me close to tears (i probably would have cried, if i hadn't been in class). for the first time i saw people telling their own stories instead of hearing them repeated as statistics and cold data. i could not remain distant from their experiences; their sadness and anger engulfed me. i guess i try and maintain a pretty sunny view of the world, and yet i'm not unaware of all the terrible aspects. i just try and shut them out sometimes, because otherwise i don't think i could function. that's probably a pretty human reaction, but it doesn't make you feel too awesome about yourself. so finally understanding the devastation that hurricane katrina caused was painful but compelling.