The Corner

New Orleans

NRO Contibutor and Bench Memos King Ed Whelan e-mails:

Kathryn:

I received the e-mail below yesterday from a friend of mine, a good and

brave man from New Orleans. I think it deserves a broader audience, as

it provides a wonderful example to those of us (me, certainly) who too

often respond to trivial adversity with far less grace. We should keep

all New Orleanians, and others afflicted by the hurricane, in our

prayers and do our best to provide them the assistance they need.

I have not been able to reach my friend to request his permission to

post his e-mail (and would not want to bother him with such a trivial

request), so I have made minor changes to preserve his privacy.

Ed

“Dear Friends,

“I have often thought of my home, New Orleans, as the future Atlantis.

Rome may well be the Eternal City. New Orleanians have the Ephemeral

City.

“And now, the long deferred worst case scenario has come due. The

outlook

is grim indeed. And the suffering that will no doubt be my fellow

citizens’ lot, be it from loss of property, health or life, is enough to

touch the flintiest of hearts. Not to exaggerate the situation, but I

am

doubtful whether the city will ever be the same again. Without having

seen the damage firsthand-and without knowing whether my home or office

even exist-I can’t imagine that the city will soon recover from such a

blow. Our city appears to be filled with polluted water, and assuming

that it could be drained soon, it seems rather unlikely that we will be

going home within the next month.

“Can you imagine a city of this size being vacated for a month? I can’t

imagine it, but it seems likely that I will live it!

“Imagine losing the following:

* Your home

* Your job

* Your possessions

* Your children’s access to schooling

* Your economy

* Your culture

* Your city

“I bring all of this doom and gloom up to make one key point: I am, in

some key ways, better off now than I was before Katrina came to town.

“You see, for years now I have tried to convince my children of one

truth:

The most important things in life are not things.

“I had, of course, intended to emphasize this point from the comfort of a

chaise lounge under the beneficent breeze of a ceiling fan. To my

irritation and dismay, I must now say this without the proverbial pot.

“We shall just have to wait and see whether my philosophy is able to

withstand the rigors of a reality without. Although I shall miss air

conditioning, I have reason to believe that I will pass this test.

“Just this morning my ten-year-old daughter came to me, and with

her voice trembling, asked me “Papa, are we going to be all right?”

“My reply was “Yes, we are going to be just fine. I can lose

everything I have with just a few exceptions, and they are your mother,

you and your sisters.”

“I write these words from the home of a friend in Houston, Texas, with

very

little to my name. I have, nevertheless, wealth untold.

“To those of you who have attempted to call, it is probable that our

telephones will be out for the foreseeable future-New Orleans doesn’t

have

an electrical grid right now, so until they can rebuild that we probably

won’t have much in the way of telephone service.

“I’m grateful for the kindness of friends who have taken us in without

reservation.

“Say a prayer for my city tonight; there are so many others who have lost

the greatest wealth God gives-their own lives. Whether I like it or

not,

my treasure will, for a season, be stored in places where ‘moths and

dust

doth not corrupt.’

“Ys. truly,

[name]“

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