Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A time to think, a time to feel

I was going to leave the commentary about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath to others. There are thousands of people on the Web, on TV and in newspapers giving their opinion about what went wrong and who's to blame. I try to read an equal amount from all sides, disregarding the very extreme edge of each (such as the CIA has control over the weather or that God smote a certain city to punish sinners).

But the more I read, the more it struck me...how differences of opinion are often driven by the difference between thinking and feeling.

God created us human beings with both intellect and emotion, and these are meant to be in a balance. Some situations call for more feeling than thinking, some situations need the opposite. Some, like the response to a natural or man-made disaster, require mostly reason and logic to get through the immediate emergency, and less of the emotion that, while being the basis of compassion, could easily overwhelm our logic. Once the crisis has passed, we need to get back to a balance of reason and emotion when developing long-term solutions.

As you read or watch coverage of the disaster, take a moment to note if what the people are saying is based on emotion or reason. Then take your analysis one more step by ascertaining the possible motives of the people you are observing. And when you form your opinion, are you doing it based facts you believe to be true or what you feel about what you think you know?

What happened before and after Hurricane Katrina is tragic. No doubt mistakes were made. No doubt we will learn a lot more in the coming days, weeks and months. No doubt we have to be better prepared for the next time (there is always a next time).

But when you hear a politician or news reporter or celebrity lay all the blame at the feet of one person or institution or organization to the exclusion of all others, keep plenty of room for doubt in your own mind. Consider their motives, their emotions and their knowledge of the facts.

Think first, then feel.