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Beyond The Blame


James Robison consoles a family devastated by the hurricane.

It has been said, "When you squeeze a grape, you find out what it's really like." Under pressure, the juice inside a grape comes out and the taste is either sweet or sour. Until a grape is squeezed, you don't know the truth about it.

America is being squeezed. The unfolding disaster in my neighboring state has squeezed this country in a way only matched by the terrorist attacks of 9/11. But instead of unifying the country, this natural catastrophe has brought out a lot of sour grapes.

Some call it the "blame game," but it's far more serious than that. The insane rush to point fingers and destroy people as they try to cope with the difficult recovery that lies ahead is disgraceful.

Blame the citizens of the Gulf Coast for not evacuating. Blame the mayor of New Orleans for not getting everyone out of harm's way. Blame the governor of Louisiana for not being prepared for the aftermath. Blame the president for not moving in quick enough. Blame the oil companies. Blame the rich. Blame white people. And on and on...

While we need to learn from this calamity in order to better prepare for the future, the slash-and-burn mentality of some politicians, reporters and so-called "reverends" is as putrid as the water flooding the streets of New Orleans.

I went to Mississippi last weekend to deliver aid to those in need. What I witnessed with my own eyes was as inspirational as it was devastating. While those on the sidelines of the hurricane bicker and lay blame, those caught in the storm reacted in ways that merit praise.

In the town of Picayune and other small communities about 40 miles from New Orleans, churches took the lead in caring for people. Even if they lacked supplies, they offered manpower and emotional support. I heard several people curse the government in one breath and thank the pastor in the next. Across the country, churches continue to provide what government cannot -- prayer, counsel, and a personal touch. In a dozen states, churches and faith-based ministries, like our own LIFE Outreach International, are currently helping to shelter families seeking refuge while sending in supplies to support those people rebuilding their lives.

Even two former presidents from opposing parties, Bush and Clinton, have unified in their efforts and pledged support through local churches. In this time of crisis, the church is proving itself to be the pillar of American strength that it has always been. When the faith-based community was squeezed, a sweetness poured out that will heal many hurts and inspire real hope for the future.

Another notable presence in the ravaged areas was private business. Wal-Mart was the only store in the area with electricity, gas and groceries. The company flew in generators and trucked in ice so that people could access the necessities to survive. Other companies -- from large corporations to mom-and-pop shops -- donated time, money and goods and delivered it quickly.

Non-governmental organizations, like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, funneled money generously donated by individuals and groups worldwide to meet the needs of the hurricane victims. Without their help, the Gulf States would have spiraled deeper into hopelessness and chaos.

Our focus should remain on the positive reactions to the disaster. Certainly, everyone involved in crisis management will assess their performance, cite areas of improvement, and plan better in the future. But all of the "Monday morning quarterbacking" serves no constructive purpose.

Speaking of quarterbacking, the National Football League opens its regular season this weekend -- even as the New Orleans Saints search for a new home after the destruction of the Superdome. The first game of the season features the three-time champion New England Patriots. This is a team that has mastered the game of football. Yet this is a team that still makes mistakes and loses a few games. 

One thing you never hear from the Patriots after a loss is a bunch of badmouthing and blaming. The quarterback doesn't trash the defense. The linebackers don't blame the running back. And nobody -- NOBODY -- calls for the coach to resign. Instead, they unite as a team, assess their needs, revise their strategy, and come out stronger the next week. The teams that degenerate into dissension always doom themselves to a losing season.

America could use a few Patriots. This is the time to unite, not divide. On the football field, there is not black or white. There is no Democrat or Republican. There is no rich or poor. There is just one team.

If we will appreciate the great things we do have in this country, be thankful for the aid that has come to those in need, and build upon the foundations that made this country strong, we will become champions once again. If not, then Hurricane Katrina was just the beginning of the real disaster.

Author: James Robison

Word Count: 816

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, an international humanitarian aid ministry; host of the television program, Life Today; and author of The Absolutes.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, randy.robison at

Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.



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