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Southern hospitality

Dear Hurricane Katrina Evacuees:

I am writing to tell you that we here in Michigan are only too happy to be able to reciprocate some of the warmth you've shown us over the years. Goodness knows, us Northerners love to fly south for the winter -- and it's not just the warm weather we go after, but your legendary hospitality that you are known the world over for, too. We spend a week or two, getting filled up on the great Southern cooking, bask in the glow of our Southern tans, and then come back and tell our neighbors who didn't fly south how great we were treated while we were in your care.

So it's only fitting that we should return the favor. Of course, we came down to see ya'll by choice -- we might have claimed the snow 'forced' us out, but ... nothing like what you Katrina survivors have had to endure. So please, put your feet up, get ready to enjoy what we're known best for, because the fall colors will be arriving shortly! And if you feel the need to be near a big body of water, why, Lake Michigan -- known around these parts as the 'Big Lake' -- fills the bill quite nicely. It ain't the Gulf of Mexico; but I'm guessing ya'll have had your fill of that anyway.

I'm secretly hoping that you'll forgive us for not moving faster, though. See, here in the United States of America, we pride ourselves on being autonomous. We pride ourselves on *ahem* not needing anyone's help, no matter how hard times may get. Perhaps that's partly because some of us have realized the beauty and power in being independent; to not have to rely on others for our resources. So when we witness hard times befalling our neighbors, we expect them to pick themselves up by their boot straps like we do, but ... this time was different, and it just took us retards a while to get that. Will you forgive us for being stupid?

Ah, but I think -- I hope -- that we're starting to realize the error of this kind of thinking!! I myself am just learning it. There's no such thing as a "self-made" man or woman. Anyone who's gotten ANYWHERE in life had help along the way, and to deny that or make it seem otherwise is foolishness! Think about it: if you're reading this and you consider yourself to be 'successful', or on your way to whatever your definition of 'success' is, can you honestly say you did it alone??? Maybe the help you had came from unexpected sources, but I'd be willing to bet you GOT help!

Just like I did. Just like anyone who's gotten anywhere in life did. We do not exist to live alone. That kind of thinking will not get you far, and will cost you friendships ... and aren't friendships the spice of life? Is there anyone who would disagree with me on that one? Friends are there for you after your parents abandon you, after your lover abandons you, after your employer abandons you, friends share in your moments of joy, let you lean on them in your moments of grief...

...after religious fanatics destroy everything you cherish, after a catastrophic hurricane wipes out everything you own. What's left?

YOUR FRIENDS.



I don't think anybody who's survived 9/11 would have thought that a hurricane would come along and do the same kind of damage, to a different part of the country, in less than 5 years time. That might also partly explain the country's sluggish response to helping the survivors of Katrina: I think people were like, oh big deal, hurricanes are pretty crummy, but we'll get through this one too. Nobody expected Katrina to do what she did. Nobody expected to have to re-live the emotions that 9/11 brought on, so soon again ... and so close to the anniversary. It seems like more than one can bear.

But we will bear it. We'll get through this too -- together, like we were meant to do!

I must say, Evacuees, the hospitality of West Michigan has humbled this author. I've been harshly critical of living in the state of Michigan in recent years. I've not had an easy time making friends (although it's so clear to me why now, and the problem is NOT other people, the problem is me), and I have just generally not had good things to say about this place. Michigan has a LOT of problems.

But Michigan has a lot of good points, too, and now you're about to be treated to Michigan's finer side, the West side of the state! Oh, the East side's not bad; the North is really the best, if you don't mind the cold. But there really are some good people who live here, as you are finding out.

Anyway ... we hope you'll stay as long as you like. There are no hurricanes up here, and the snow's all right as long as you bundle up. Besides, I'm willing to bet having so much Southern personality this far north ... maybe ya'll will keep the snow at bay for a while. ^.^

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