Monday, May 30, 2011

Crumbling metropolis

Devastation comes in all forms:
America’s attention has been focused on the towns in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma that have been decimated by severe weather, and rightly so. The resulting death and heartbreaking scenes of utter devastation should move anyone with a shred of humanity.

Yesterday, as severe weather continued to pummel the heartland of America, I drove through Detroit taking photos of a different sort of devastation – the economic calamity that has destroyed entire neighborhoods in a once thriving city. What’s striking about the photos I took is their similarity to the images coming out of Joplin, Mo. and other towns struck by the recent rash of deadly tornadoes.
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What’s the difference if a city is leveled by the weather, or by economics? What’s the difference if such destruction occurs gradually over time, or in a single horrific event? Why does one tragedy elicit sympathy and offers of financial assistance, while the other tragedy is the source of jokes and callous indifference?
That's an easy question to answer, I think. When a tornado or some other natural disaster hits, it is out of our control. When the destruction is caused by our own decisions, by the very system we live in and concede power to, then it's our own fault. We don't want to take responsibility, so we laugh it off, or blame others.

As the gap between the classes continues to grow, Detroit will not remain an isolated problem. Let us treat it as a warning.

3 comments:

Gorilla Bananas said...

Another difference is that gradual economic decline should be easier for people to adapt to by replacing failing businesses with new ones or
looking for work elsewhere

ChrisV82 said...

Of course, you could also say that people in Missouri should stop living there because they get 5-15 tornadoes per 1,000 square miles. That's like walking around nude in a viper pit.

The reality, I think, is that most people can't help where they're born, and they never get out. I won't criticize them for that.

Jai said...

I don't get it. Did a remotely-comparable amount of people die in Detroit from economic tragedy? If not, how can the author seriously ask what the difference is between Detroit and Joplin?

"The resulting death and heartbreaking scenes of utter devastation should move anyone with a shred of humanity. I decided this would be a good time to take photographs of Detroit and lay a loosely-formulated guilt trip on those people with shreds of humanity, while death and heartbreak continues to ensue from fucking tornadoes." That's what I'm reading into this. Then again, I am just changing the subject -- I don't want to think about Detroit. It's far away. I haven't been there.