Week 35 started with a national crisis after Hurricane Harvey slammed into Houston, Texas. This event created havoc in the southwest coastal areas of Texas. On Facebook, I posted the statement Place not Prayer will save Houston. Several folks wondered what I meant (and I suspect many felt I was insulting their religiousness). Here is what I “meant:”
Houston created its “place” through cavalier planning that historically had no zoning laws; city and environmental planning created a “place” defined solely by greed and profit; Texas is controlled by climate change deniers who publicly claim “big government” has no “place” in Texan’s lives; Houston is “placed” smack on the loci of dozens of rivers and watersheds that feed into the Gulf; those with money “place” themselves on higher ground (literally); to get from “place to place” walking and public transportation is the least supported infrastructure means—leaving ever expanding concrete jungles for the single occupant car; the “place” for wetlands is seen as a “place” for profit not the greater environmental good. Today: politicians and super-rich preachers are asking for prayers and government assistance.For 1,000s of years people have relied on “thoughts and prayers” in time of crisis. While prayer may make one feel more involved, express caring and deepen the bond between an individual and his or her belief system—it does nothing to make a “place” co-exist with the changing environmental and natural systems; it will not alter the greed and denial that created this in first place; it will do nothing but make the helpless feel better. The phrase “Thoughts and Prayers” is, in my humble opinion, simply one’s way of expressing love and empathy. It does not supplant action.If Houston wants to make a better “place” that is in harmony with “god’s” (choose your own god from the current list of 7,500) creation then get off your knees and start changing policies that made this “place.”
Kate Marvel has an excellent post on the “On Being” website: “We Should Never have Called in Earth.” Finally, the narratives that emerged are fascinating in what they want to “expose’ as the boogey-man for the disaster. Each narrative is carefully chosen, of ouches, to emphasize a socio-political bias. Between the two stories that are link below lies the middle ground—the likely place Houston will end up. Fascinating narratives—but to me, density and public transportation are are the core of the answer—not justifying what is done by “lower priced homes” and “every city is the same as Houston post 1950.” This may be true but it is NOT the answer.