A Cloud That Just Won’t Leave

 

gfWZUb.jpgThere is always a calm before the greatest of storms. The birds are singing their careless and wonderful tune. The kids are playing without a care in the world. The skies are clear as if there was no impending storm. A serene environment, an atmosphere and scene that makes you think everything will be OK, that we are just fine. The eye of the storm gives you the last glimpse of an old life.

Suddenly the skies have rapidly turned dark. A clap of thunder in the distance indicates the brutal storm that is to come, then the winds and rain begin. 20, 40, 80 miles per hour to start. Pounding, pounding, pounding against the walls of every house, every building in the city. Trees uprooted from the intense rain and winds. 100, 120, 140 miles per hour. Houses are exploding from the immense pressure of the storm.

Suddenly things don’t seem as calm or as good as they used to seem.

Houses crashing all around, streets made useless by extreme flooding and rain. Cars, homes, schools, entire cities are shut down from the destructive storm. People are afraid; afraid that their lives may change forever.

What about after the storm? After the rain stops? After the flooding is gone and the water is drained? How will people unite to overcome a horrible tragedy?

The dark cloud has not disappeared. The rain may have stopped. The winds may have calmed. But there is still something different. Rather than helping those in need, people are taking advantage. Shops are being stolen of their goods, homes are being picked apart for valuables. Neighbors are threatening each other at gunpoint.

“In the past, disasters in this part of the country have brought out the best in people. But not this time.”

The storm still has not gone. The South has been pitted in darkness, not because of rain, not because of inundation, not because of the hurricane that has since passed, but because its people are broken apart. Its people refuse to help one another, help each other through such a tragic disaster.

This is the story of hurricane Katrina, one of many that had witnessed not one but two storms at once.

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A police officer threatens looters with death in storm devastated New Orleans. 

It was clear that Anaheim was going to be inflicted with a similar storm.

A calm and sunny day in Anaheim. The wonderful white bellied sanderlings tweet their jubilant tune as the hum and buzz of the city continue below. Parents and adults driving home from a long day of work as  children come home from school. Another seemingly normal day in Anaheim. Another eye of the storm.

The turmoil began after school, when a group of young students were walking home. Everything seemed fine until the kids passed by the home of an LAPD officer who was infuriated by the fact that the kids were walking on his front yard. The off duty officer, acting in fury, grabbed one of the 13 year-old boys by the arm and refused to let him go. After a couple of minutes of talk between the detained boy and his detainer, one of the boy’s friend decided to take action in a sticky situation. He tackled the officer, hoping to free his friend and get away from what would surely be a great danger. Instead, the officer tightened his grip on the boy and took out his firearm. In a flurry of events, the officer takes aim and fires.

A clap of thunder. Bang! In a completely unnecessary gun fire, the man scatters the kids who run for their lives. The 13 year old remains detained as the police are called to the scene. In a stroke of luck, no one was hurt or injured. A horrible act of violence, only to end in the arrest of two boys who just wanted to get home. An blatant injustice had been done that day in reaction to a string of shocking decisions made by not only a middle aged man but by an authority. Still, no one was prepared for the storm that would follow.

Streets were made useless. Cars wrecked and houses destroyed and vandalized. Buildings with shattered windows had words reading “Kill the cops!” written on them. Things were no longer calm in the city of Anaheim, the happiest place on earth. There was an unsettling and violent storm blowing through the streets of the city.

“In the past, disasters in this part of the country have brought out the best in people. But not this time.”

As used before by Alice Jackson to describe the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, this quote shows how instead of uniting peacefully to create change, civilians made a bad situation worse with their actions. A single people uniting and co-operating to overturn a tragic and terrible event is a beautiful product of solidarity and democracy. A rioting crowd looking to inflict pain and destruction is a product of uncontrolled anger and irresponsible behavior. The storm of rioters had grown to be so threatening that riot police had to protect the home of the perpetrator because of attempts to break in his home. The storm rages on in Anaheim.

Cooperation, resilience, and love. Change is brought about by these elements.

Last year, Haiti was hit by Hurricane Matthew, which destroyed many of the schools, homes, and properties of the impoverished civilians, but this didn’t spur hate.

“Noula!”

Meaning, “We are here.” A wonderful report told by “Compassion”, a movement to end child poverty, that tells of how the people of Haiti came together to get through a horrible crisis. Many of these people, who before had so little, now have nothing. Their already small homes destroyed, many are left with no place to live, but instead of resorting to violence, these people work together to help each other out of this storm. Schools are rebuilt. Churches are fixed. Ruined classrooms, laptops, and desks are recovered and moved to safety. The children laugh on, the adults hug each other and thank God for giving them life. The cloud has lifted over Haiti, where unity makes strength.

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No tears. No pain. Unity and love. 

A lot can be learned from Haiti. In Louisiana, where violence and crime plagued the region for weeks after the storm. In Anaheim, where protesters resorted to violence to corrupt such a great cause. In the rest of the world, where people struggle for justice and freedom in unproductive and degrading ways. The only solution to such a problem is fraternity and peace. Love and cooperation. Unity and strength.

How can protesters create change? With solidarity and peaceful collaboration. A force of a united people who want change and justice by peaceful means cannot be stopped by authority, force, or injustice. Any crisis or struggle can be solved by one people, united for a single cause, with only pure and just intentions.

L’Union Fait La Force.

 

 

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