Rosalie begins baking her Christmas Goodies well before Halloween and so for a while the kitchen is filled with classical music from the radio until Thanksgiving, when another station begins All-Christmas-Carols-All-The-Time until Santa’s visit. Since Rosalie is up to her elbows in flour, sugar and all those other necessary ingredients, she cannot change stations or adjust the volume and so any walk through the kitchen is accompanied by radio music of one sort or another and anything else being broadcast such as commercials, interviews, and news.
As I sneaked through the kitchen on Halloween morning hoping to find an unattended (and uncounted) pile of cookies, a few of which I could “liberate for the people,” I heard a news broadcast that shocked me to the point that I forgot about the cookies.
Here is what I heard, as verbatim as I can recall:
“And so the Mayor is quite disturbed, having very little of her city back to normal. Her constituents are very displeased at the slow pace of the work, and she is very upset by the powers that be. Water, the most elemental commodity supplied by government, is still in the individual bottle stage.”
And I thought, how is it that we are taking so long to fix what has happened in Pueto Rico? These are American citizens who have suffered so much, have waited so long, received so little – they don’t even have water to drink.
However, that is not where my shock came from. Truth be told, like you, I have become accustomed to the news of how poorly we are treating our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. We shake our heads over the monumental inefficiency and lack of responsibility and move on to other things.
What shocked me was what came next in that radio news story:
“How long do you expect this to continue, Mayor?” And the Mayor answered: “As long as the Federal and State governments continue to treat Flint as if we are in another country.”
Yes, the city being discussed was not San Juan, the city so hard hit by the hurricanes that flowed over Puerto Rico, the city being talked about that had no water the citizens “trusted” was Flint, Michigan. In one sense suffering an even greater catastrophe than San Juan which was torn apart by a weather event difficult to accurately predict and impossible to protect against. Flint was devastated by completely preventable graft, corruption, theft perpetrated by its own elected officials.
And so Flint, just like San Juan, continues to await our help, continues to await their fellow Americans doing what Americans are supposed to do –– what we are so quick to pat ourselves on the back when we do what is expected of us.
I’m avoiding the sarcasm so available here, drawing the easy parallels between the citizens of Flint and San Juan and the similar disinterest each city is experiencing from the rest of us.
I’m so lucky to be here on the mainland of the United States of America, in Douglas County, in our kitchen surrounded by all these gifts, knowing that nothing like Flint or San Juan could ever happen here. Right?