Thursday, November 15, 2012

You Must Choose, Brother, You Must Choose

Brothers and sisters, the time has come
For each and every one of you to decide
Whether you are gonna be the problem,
Or whether you are gonna be the solution.
You must choose, brothers, you must choose.

The MC-5 was a Detroit garage band that burst on the national stage with their one successful album. A few years later they were gone. They have been accused of being THE forerunner of punk rock and heavy metal. Whatever their place in music history they were really loud, their stage presence was fueled with way too much testosterone as well as lack of musical talent. My mother wouldn’t let me play that album when she was in the house. When I was a teenager, I really liked that band.

This morning I read two takes on the recent hurricane (Sandy) that hit New York and the Northeast coastline of the United States. One focused on the breakdown of the infrastructure of a great city and the breakdown in civil order that followed. Yes, the power system failed. In a high rise building, no power means no water. No water means no toilets. There were instances of looting, fights over food and gasoline, price gouging and a lot of bad behavior. By all reports this is still going on. The author recommends the Road Warrior solution; stock up on shotgun shells and gasoline. He also has his own natural gas generator and emergency food supply (probably a good idea); satellite phone and night vision goggles (why?). By the way, kudos to a friend of this blog who suggested that keeping a reasonable supply of cash in the house should be a part of our standard operating procedure. No power means no ATM.

The second article focused on what went right in the face of disaster. Restaurant owners giving away free food to those without a stock of Chef Boyardee in the pantry; groups of friends and neighbors spontaneously organizing teams to begin the clean up and rebuilding process. A bar owner managed to round up enough customers to load up 4 school busses, six cars, and two off duty policemen to run a convoy supply system to one of the hard hit areas. The article observed, “No receipts, no tax deductions, no cameras, no politicians, no news.”

The author of the second article noted the importance of churches and synagogues. He also observed areas that lacked such institutions did not fare as well as those with religious communities. It seems that when the chips are down religious organizations come through, doing what they should be doing all of the time, being salt and light in a dark and tasteless world.

So that brings us back around to the MC-5. You must choose, brother, you must choose. Every day we have to answer the question, “Are you going to be the problem or are you going to be the solution?” We make choices. Do they make us a better person? Does our presence make the world a better place?

Did we just curse or even cause the darkness or did we light a candle to help our brother find his way?

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