Wednesday, January 17, 2007

N.O.: Stay or Go

By Steve White

“Do I live in a sterile environment & possibly die of boredom. Or do I return to the city I love so much & possibly die at the hands of a ‘Child of the Night?”

How hundreds, maybe thousands, of people answer that question will determine the outcome to two large and inextricably linked riddles: how will New Orleans resurrect itself and what can done to stem rampant crime? You can’t have one without the other.

A friend of mine (someone I used to room with in New Orleans more than a decade ago) posed the question above, in response to a recent Chris Rose column entitled "Fear and Firepower." Rose, a comic wit who found his mature voice in hurricane’s wake singing humorous love songs to the city, now seriously questions the sanity of staying in New Orleans as bullets rain down.

My friend, whose family is considering a return, responds in kind. They are the kind of people New Orleans needs. He’s a health care provider, she an active mom, both with deep ties in the community they left before the hurricane to pursue a job opportunity in Florida. Now they want to come home and be a part of the rebirth.

There aren’t any easy answers, of course, so let’s ask that age-old question: what would Jesus do. In this instance, we actually have some guidance. In the lead up to his own crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus goes to the Garden of Gethsemane and seeks counsel from God, expresses fear and hesitation at what is to come, is betrayed by a loved one and ultimately atones for the sins of the world through his own sacrifice and suffering.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating sacrifice for others (as I sit safely on the sidelines), nor am I a macho proponent of the No Pain/No Gain school of thought, but I do believe that God answers all our prayers if we go to him and then sit quietly and listen. The answers are there; they just aren’t always easy, or simple, or what we think we want or need.

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