October 2005 - Volume 10, Issue 3

Editorial - Prudent Leaders

By Rev. Mark Connolly

The Buck Stops Here

Weeks and months have passed since the terrible tragedies caused by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. No normal person will ever forget the images brought to us by television of the floating bodies, of the homes totally engulfed by water, the plight of thousands in the Super Dome and the tragic loss of almost all the people in one nursing home. No question, this is a tragedy that surpasses almost anything in American history.

But there is another tragedy associated with what the hurricanes did. It is the tragic lack of accountability for emergency situations of this kind. The FEMA director blames the governor of Louisiana and the mayor of New Orleans. The Mayor and Governor counterattack and claim they were not notified in the proper time. What you are hearing from one federal organization to a local organization is what has been called plain buck passing. Whatever has gotten into some of our leaders when tragedy takes place, they seem to have an inbuilt approach to make sure that the blame does not stop at their door.

Harry Truman had a little sign in his office that said, "The buck stops here." But even at this writing there is no one from the Mayor's office, the Governor's office or the Federal Office who has come forth and said I made a mistake or I was ill prepared. The President came to take responsibility too long after the incident and the tragedy that had taken place.

All of us know that four years ago 9/11 became a major tragedy in the life of the American psyche. Senator John McCain called this attack a sucker punch. In other words, a punch that was totally unsuspected and never anticipated. We are four years from the tragedy of 9/11 and even tough the site has been cleaned, architectural plans have been drawn up, I think in four years the average citizen expected more to be done.

Today because of terrorists, because of all they can do, because of nature and all it can do, our lives for these enormous tragedies are in the hands of our leaders, whether it is local, state or federal. I think each one of us has an obligation to write the Mayor or the Governor or the President concerning these life threatening situations that can be around the corner in our lives. We all know that bureaucracies, local or federal, can be stymied and prevent the progress that should be made in times of tragedy. What each one of us has to ask God for during these uncertain times is to bring forth leaders who really can lead, who can motivate, who can direct in time of great tragedy. There is no reason why planning and planning and planning cannot be done to anticipate these tragedies. All we know is that bureaucracies stumble over each other.

For you and your community, you have to ask God to bring forth leaders at the local level that can act prudently and swiftly without waiting for a signal from some other organization. Yes, we can learn a lot from the tragedies of Katrina and Rita, but in the meantime we have to work to bring forth leaders that can act in such a way that your life and my life will be saved.