Ohg is out of commission. He lives in one of the midwestern cities that has been hit the worst with the latest ice storms. The picture at the right is about two blocks from his house. He is without power, huddled in fron of his fireplace for warmth, trying to decide whether or not to stick it out in his cold, dark house or head to a friend or relatives place to wait out the aftermath.I did talk to him on the phone today, though, and we had an interesting chat about desperation. We have large family systems and we have plenty of resources ourselves to get through a crisis. Dad could just go to a hotel. He could eat out for every meal (currently, he is living off of cold turkey sandwiches and a case of root beer), or he could take one of the many offers to go and stay with someone. Ohg is a blogger, though he is not hasty to admit it, so his schedule is flexible. His kids are grown and only depend on him for four or five hours a day, so he has some options.
But what about those that are less fortunate. Hurricane Katrina brought them to the forefront of our collective consciousness. Some people have little choice but to make decisions for the moment. The situation in the mid west, with ice and power outages, will get more desperate every day. Some will resort to craziness, like finding whatever sources of heat and food that they come accross. We will see irresponsible uses of propane and charcoal, panic about food and water, and things will escalate as hours turn into days, and possibly a week. If you feel like you are out of good options, you will start working on the not-so-good options, then you will get cold and hungry and desperate. And that is a scary combination. Broke, desperate, and stupid are like brothers; they always seem to go together.
As the middle part of the country recovers from a series of bad storms, the response is critical. There are efforts to alleviate the stress of the storms and restore people to their lives, time is the factor that seperates hardship from crisis. Let us hope that we only encounter some hardships, and that the heartland is spared from serious problems, like desperate attempts to find food and heat.
Good luck, Dad. We are waiting to hear from you.