Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More Than Any Marriage Can Survive?

This morning I was listening to a radio interview set in New Orleans. It was of a young couple whose lives have unraveled because of the Gulf Coast oil spill. He's a 4th generation shrimper. They've been married 7 years. They have two boys, ages 2 & 4. He was employed by his uncle's boat, and they had one week of glorious shrimping when the fields opened back up in August, but then the winch broke so he lost his job.

Without a job, they have lost

  • the house they rented
  • their vehicle
  • their phones
  • nearly their marriage.
While I was listening I felt vaguely sympathetic but still very far removed from the situation. And then the interviewer mentioned that this young man is a veteran. He served in Iraq. His wife described him currently as someone she doesn't recognize. He was more himself when he was getting shot at every day than the man she sees now.

Post Traumatic Stress from an oil spill?

Well, do the math -- since they've been married, they also experienced the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

Fishermen and shrimpers are, to quote one of the experts, the last of the hunter-gatherers. They have a tremendous self-reliance ethic, and they don't want to accept help from anyone. This young man has been stripped of everything - his work, his family, the security of a home and vehicle and because of the devastation Katrina caused in the social fabric and because of the ethic of his culture, there are very few back-up systems to get him help.  
Ironically, this photo is from a site offering employment.

It makes me think about the multi-generational reliance on welfare that we hear about all the time. All this young man (age 27) wants is to WORK. If he can get work, he can regain self-respect and the other things will follow. If we could transplant his attitude to the ones who feel a sense of entitlement, and help him see that to accept a hand for a while is not a matter of shame, we'd ALL benefit.

Any ideas on how to strike that balance?

3 comments:

EG Wow said...

I guess we still haven't heard the last of the oil spill, have we? Such a sad story!

quilly said...

So much is out of whack in this world. I just call out to God because I don't know what else to do.

Robin said...

How devastating. It must be all they can do just to get up and keep breathing each day.

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