I am an American, and truly believe that as a whole we’re a good bunch. With all my flaws I am by no means qualified to say otherwise, but since I don’t want my words to be misinterpreted, I happily begin by complimenting my fickle countrymen for their basic decency and kindness.
As we look back to the recent presidential election, I can’t help but sense that an election fatigue has set in. Going back to when the Republicans had what was close to a football team on the debate stage, till the final contest in which the incumbent President Barack Obama defeated his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, the process has been so long I truly believe many are happy it is over. Even those on the winning side.
The good thing about the timing of the election was that it came just in time to help deal with Disaster fatigue. Please forgive me if this comes across cynical. That is not my intention. I do not believe that most people who felt bad at the peak of Superstorm Sandy no longer feel bad. I do however feel that many are less fascinated by the news reports than they were in the immediate days that followed.
All these stories not only continue, but they continue to be important and relevant. The presidential election in of itself is not as important as what gets done moving forward. Everyone knows we have a big mess on our hands and that the President, together with the Senate and Congress need to move into action and get things on the right track. But enough about the election now. It’s old news.
Hurricane Sandy in many ways is two stories. The first story was the immediate storm and the drama and serious impact it had. The second story, the more serious one, is the story of the people who have suffered and still suffer as a result of the storm. This is a story that unfortunately will continue for quite some time. People are homeless, hungry and cold. They are frustrated and despondent and will be needing help for a very long time. But the story of the storm itself, the floods, fires, storm surges, well that’s old news now.
Gas shortages and long lines is becoming old news as well. Unless of course fights break out while people wait in line. Then the news becomes exciting again. We are a sensationalist society and when the story loses its sensationalism the public loses some interest. That doesn’t mean we become uncaring. There are so many good people, people better than me, who give so much time to help those in need. It’s just that unfortunately people’s suffering is never really news. It doesn’t go away and being that it is a constant, loses its headline status.
Part of the biggest challenge facing us is to see to it that when these stories lose front page stature they don’t lose their importance. It is incumbent on anyone with any audience, even a small one, to seek out and find the stories of those who need help. That way we can continue to be the sensationalist society we obviously and honestly want to be, while not turning away from those who truly need our help.
If any of you have stories of people in need that you wish to share, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sometimes the greatest help starts from the most unlikely source.