Katrina: Change creates opportunity

The disaster caused by the hurricane, Katrina, is actually so huge that it is impossible for me to comprehend at a personal level. The families lost, split apart or injured can only be compared, I think, with the tales of families torn apart in the American Civil War.

9/11 pales by comparison. That disaster was quickly consumed by politics and politicians who still, today, cannot create a consensus in this country. The subsequent war, like the war in the 1960’s, likely will cause our population economic hardship for decades, if not totally bankrupt us. “Johnson’s war” almost did bankrupt us. Only history will tell whether Bush’s decisions will be worse for us.

I listen to those who say Andrew even pales by comparison to Katrina.

Now, we face the challenges created by Katrina. At least as of this early date, everyone can agree that the people impacted by Katrina must be treated, must be helped and must heal before we can again move to a “normal” or “healthy” society, hopefully without so much of the political bickering we’ve experienced in the last decade or more.

And when will that occur? No one knows. Some are saying months, some years and, unfortunately, I believe decades.

There is a book recommended to me that I pass along to you. It’s
“Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America.”

I believe that economics normally governs all of our actions. I am a follower of Charles and Mary Beard who wrote “The Economic Interpretation of the United States Constitution” in the 1930s. Their discourse on how and why the Americas developed is fascinating and very believable (to me). And, thus, I’m eager to read about the Mississippi Flood of 1927.

I suspect that Katrina’s impact will be at least as powerful.

One element, from a practical perspective, to consider is that where there is change, there is not only suffering but also opportunity. Today, I spoke with people whom I coach who live in and surrounding the areas hit by this storm. They are wondering how to build their law practice with such suffering around them.

While not simple, the answer is: Call everyone you know; ask them how they were affected by the storm; ask them if they have family and friends affected; ask them what their plans are in the near future; ask them how they intend to go on and build their business. Listen for opportunities to help them as they speak and respond to your questions. Suggest alternatives to them that they may not have thought of because they are too close to the pain and change. I suspect you will find numerous opportunities to help at a personal level and perhaps without compensation as well as at the same time to build your own law practice further.

Get involved with your local bar association. Either lead the effort or participate in the effort to help those extended families with tragedy. Let the public media know what the Bar is doing and your role in that effort so that they will appreciate the huge value of lawyers to the society and the good work of your Bar …

These and many other ideas are ripe for implementation in this time of tragedy. This could be a time, like the first few days after 9/11, that our contry comes together. Let’s not let politicians run amuck with our instincts to help those afflicted at this time.


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