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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Wallowing in the depths of self-indulgence

Bruno Baltodano Special to The Spokesman-Review

A bsurdity is everywhere these days, but perhaps the worst happened at San Miguel’s Tacos in Moscow late last Friday.

The owners of this exquisite, yet humble, eatery put up a sign informing their diverse clientele that they would donate 30 percent of their sales on the following Wednesday to Hurricane relief funds.

As I stood ordering my usual fare – sopes, horchata and quesadillas – a young couple stood next to me openly complaining about their aborted vacation plans. It seems that they had made arrangements to visit New Orleans last week and they had to cancel them because of Katrina.

One poignant matter for these people was the fact that they may never get the chance to see The Big Easy the way it was before the storm.

The dead and dying are mounting in New Orleans, and all we can do is complain about the rising cost of gas, our aborted vacations and our broken down dishwashers.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd asked the perfect question: “Who are we if we can’t take care of our own?”

The answer is morbidly simple.

It’s a byproduct of our lack of empathy for the poor and, no matter how shocked and outraged we may appear to be, it is a deficiency that we constantly fail to address.

It is not a complete lack of care; but rather a part of basic human nature.

Our personal behavior is directed toward homeostasis; some seem inevitably beholden to the pleasure principle at the expense of compassion.

We drive through Overtown to get to South Beach; we leave behind the shanty towns and the stench of Kingstown to get into our gated resorts in Jamaica; we drive around the edge of the favelas to get to the carnival in Rio, and we disregarded the Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood in order to party down in The Big Easy.

Meanwhile, we are too busy smelling the proverbial roses to take time to smell the stench of social inequities.

We never look into the eyes of despair. In fact, we look right past them, as if the condition of the poor is somehow their rightful place.

We soothe ourselves in the veil of righteous dogma. “The meek shall inherit the earth,” the good book says. There is a place and time for each of us in God’s plan.

Complacency affects us at the individual level, from the resident of a subterranean dorm in Perham Hall to the resident of the ostentatious house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Well, good lord almighty I am tired.

Robert Bly made the perfect remark: “Tell me why it is we don’t lift our voices these days and cry over what is happening.”

I am tired of ignorant warmongers stripping more than 60 percent of requested funds for hurricane and flood relief programs in New Orleans last year only to sit in front of Diane Sawyer, ingenuously stating, “I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees.” Is he really that impenetrable?

I am tired of indolent individuals more concerned with self-satisfaction than with the apocalypses in the Bayou. Is our skin really that thick?

I am tired of imprudent Sunday sermons proclaiming intelligent design in irrational chaos. Is this supposed to be Sodom or Gomorrah?

But most of all I am tired of myself, for complaining to anyone who cares to listen about the $89.75 it took to fill up my truck for a trip to Spokane to pick some peaches while squirming when writing a check for a similar amount to the victims of Katrina.

Is it just me or do you feel the same about yourself?


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