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It's time for us to take care of our own 9/18

September 18, 2005|By David Bussard

For the past week or so, I've been in a world of my own. Unpacking boxes, buying groceries and settling into my dorm room have been my top priorities. There have been an ample amount of distractions occupying my time, such as staring out my room window at the Empire State Building, or doing some shopping in SoHo.

But sooner or later, it had to catch up to me. I've finally started to develop a routine, and that routine includes checking the news that I have so neglected in the past few days. And I've returned only to find the worst disaster since Sept. 11 on American soil.

From my dorm room, I've read reports of looting and rape. From the lips of people passing through Washington Square Park, I've heard stories of family separation. And from a war protester in front of the Kimmel Center for Student Life, I heard about our inadequate National Guard response.

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At first, I brushed this last point off as mere rhetoric. Admittedly I do have a more liberal leaning, but you can't always blindly trust the rants and raves of a protest organizer. I returned to my new home, sat, and read the news. Yes, the National Guard response has been slow. And yes, the federal government doesn't seem to be responding as quickly as we all know is possible.

Shortly after the tsunami disaster hit South Asia, we saw a great outpouring of money and time and raw manpower. Where is that now?

As we stand today, the United States reminds me of a person with so many outward commitments that he is unable to handle his own internal ones. We've stretched ourselves too thin, being the protector, policemen, care-giver, invader, and sometimes foundation layer of so many developing and developed countries. It's finally time to say enough is enough.

We've had many opportunities to band together as a country. For the most part, we've fallen from any sort of grand national unity we ever had. Now is the time for our country to stand together and realize the mistakes of the past, admitting openly that our past incursions into countries for the sake of the "War On Terror" has been out of fear and desperation. It's time to stop fighting and take care of ourselves.

We are the greatest country in the world, yet people in New Orleans are living in third-world conditions. Citizens are living in filth and squalor, waiting desperately for someone to come save them, while people were raped and beaten and the police stood idly by. It sounds much like Iraq, pre-invasion. Or post-invasion.

This has to stop. And it can only stop with you. You have to be brave enough to say that we, as a nation, have made mistakes. You have to ignore partisan politics and look at issues from a national perspective. You must ask yourself, "What decision will push this country toward peace and unity?" Patriotism has been shoved into a false light thanks mostly to the current administration. We must redefine it. The only way to bring about change is to think civilly and act accordingly.

If there's one lesson I've learned here in New York City already, it's that change is a constant. When the entire class of 2009 was gathered together, New York University's president talked about how the school began with the idea that education is for everyone, no matter what impediment may stand in their way.

Albert Gallatin founded this school for the sake of change and as a nation, we must now be unafraid of change. People are dying due to the lack of ability of our federal government to help them.

Typically, I try to end my columns with some sort of funny quip or little witty line. I think that this time, quoting the mayor of New Orleans is more appropriate. Mayor Ray Nagin expressed the enough is enough mentality best when he told reporters that he said to President Bush, "we had an incredible crisis here and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice... I have been all around this city and that I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshal resources and we are outmanned in just about every aspect." Everyone has the ability to help, so please help in any way you can.

David Bussard of Clear Spring is currently attending college in New York City.

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