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.