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Katrina: Was It Really Needful To Exploit?
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Post Katrina: Was It Really Needful To Exploit? 

Like any other national or international catastrophe, there will be the vulnerable who will be displaced, uprooted, and also socially and economically drained and disconnected from everything and everyone that we too often take for granted in our personal lives. And, it is those victims that are usually always preyed upon by famous ego-gratifying vultures who use the devastation and unbearable pain of others to boost ratings for their television news programs and variety shows.

It sickened me when I saw people like Oprah Winfrey and Tim Green rush in with their camera's only to exploit these people and selfishly strip from them - even further - of any dignity that they may have left within while they are trying to cope in their most private moments of grief, pain and despair. What's even more tragic is that Oprah used all or most of her celebrity buddies to help her. Do I think they really care? Hell no! It's just another form of public exhibitionism of celebrities who have nothing better to do in the existence of their over-pampered boring lives by using a national disaster to boost their own miniature egos by getting in the way of those who are really there to help, such as the various police forces, National Guard and Red Cross. Their presence, within it self, is a tragedy. Because, whether the average American wakes up to realize a known fact that, celebrities will always feel, deep within, that they are better than the average American. But, of course, they will never admit it - not publicly anyway. And, their life-styles testify to that fact, especially when you see the list of outrageous tedious demands they legislate whenever they make an appearance someplace.

As these self-serving celebrities exploit and further diminish the dignity of Katrina's victims on national television for ratings sake, I can't help but be reminded of whom the real heroes are?

Images of "Mother Nature's" wrath keeps taking me back to the man who took a small severely battered fishing boat and waded through waist-deep water while he rescued his neighbors to safer ground. Not knowing what happened to his own family, he still had a heart much bigger than his own desire to find refuge, just so that he can save others. Tired and hungry and soaking wet, he struggled through waist-deep infested water, trudging back and forth, to save also strangers - people he never met before. In too many places where race still matters in America, his passengers crossed all racial and social barriers.

I also cannot forget the image of the wonderful lady in Atlanta who opened up her home to over 20 people, some family members and others, strangers. She did not have a multimillion-dollar estate to claim in Malibu and another lavishly furnished condo in Chicago. Nor did she have a huge private 8000 square-foot mansion in Connecticut filled with a staff of servants to bow at her beckoned call. She only have a small meager over-crowded home with two small bathrooms and loving neighbors who understand the true concept of "neighbor-helping-neighbor" who also pitched in and helped her prepare meals for her unexpected guests.

I still have the image of the two little boys who sold lemonade on the side of the road in their neighborhood and raised over $42.00; and with enthusiasm, gave it all unselfishly to the Red Cross Caresource Center in Atlanta.

The images are still fresh of the many people who stayed up all night and all day on their feet toiling arduously and tirelessly working in kitchens, administering first aid, handing out clothing, supplying transportation, and setting up cots and bedding. And, they still continue to serve charitably standing on their feet for days now with little rest.

And, what about the ones who were there with just a hug, or a word of encouragement, a touch on the arm or hand - doing all of these and many more acts of human kindness without any camera's rolling. They are the real heroes. They are the "unsung" heroes who had no time to worry about who was watching or what they might gain from it all. They didn't wait for cameramen to come. Their only thoughts were simply that something had to be done. And like soldiers armed for battle, they immediately went into action with the little bit that they had.

Their bountiful benevolence reminds me of the religious principle in the Bible that tells the story of the time when the people came and gave alms. Many of the rich of that day gave millions, as well. But, there was one old and very poor widow who gave only one penny. While she was belittled and mocked by those who were financially more fortunate to give more, Jesus stepped up the plate and reprimanded all who mocked her and informed them that she gave more than all of the rest. They looked at Jesus in disgust and amazement and wondered, how can that be? After all, that poor old widow only gave a penny. But, Jesus - in His infinite Wisdom - told them, "... even though you gave of your riches and gold, she gave me all that she had."

The massive display of hypocrisy continues every night on the Larry King Show on CNN which included Sean Penn, who flew into New Orleans with a camera crew, allegedly, so that he could be seen on film wading through hip-deep water pulling a boat of about 2 or 3 people; while the real rescue hero's followed behind out of the camera's sight. Can't you just see it? Hollywood coming out, in about 3 or 4 months from now, with a major motion picture about the tragedy. I wonder who will play Sean Penn? Oh, I forgot - his ego is much too large to leave that opportunity to anyone else. He would most certainly play himself. And, who do you think would capture the role of Oprah Winfrey? Now, let me think. Oh, maybe that would be Eddie Murphy in drag. And, who do you think would be the best character to play Chris Rock shaking hands with people who he really don't give a rat's behind about? Now, that's an easy one. That, of course, would be Ted Danson in black-face.

I almost forgot about the website that the celebrities set up for people to go to and register to offer their homes up for shelter for the victims of Katrina. What about them - our do-gooder celebrities? How many of our well-intentioned celebrities do you think opened up their luxurious well-manicured estated homes to any of the victims? Let me guess. None! Because, they expect the poor and the middle class to do that. After all, for a celebrity to open up their private homes to another human being in need, is totally beneath them and against everything they represent.

And, allow me slap myself on the forehead. How stupid of me to think that they would allow any of the victims of Katrina grace the grounds of their multimillion dollar lavish estates - while the blatant exploitation and hypocrisy continues.

Stan-Joseph Jennings, Author/Columnist

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