Friday, November 11, 2005

Keep the lights on

There's no more telling measure of how devestating Katrina was to New Orleans than the darkness. There are whole areas still without electricity. And these areas are not going to get electricity any time soon.

We've all heard that 80 percent of the city was flooded. We've heard that tens of thousands of our neighbors who evacuated remain scattered. But seeing is believing. Or in this case, not seeing.

After dark, the skyline of New Orleans has its bright spots, like the central business district, the Superdome, Canal Street near the river.

But there are large voids, too. Like Carrollton from Canal Street all the way to Lake Pontchartrain. And New Orleans East.

Huge, gaping, black holes, devoid of light and life.

The light of New Orleans lives, however. It burns brightly in the hearts of all its displaced citizens. It beams from their faces whenever they think of or talk about home. It guides us back to the Crescent City, like a lighthouse guides ships to safe harbor.

This is a light that cannot be extinguished. It is a light that cannot be hidden by a bushel-basket. It is a light that can cut through darkness, even the immense and sad darkness that rests on New Orleans for the time being.

Wynton Marsalis knows the power of this light. Of the tragedy that struck New Orleans he recently wrote, "In New Orleans, we have real big roaches, and we have a saying: 'When you turn the lights on, the roaches scatter.' We must keep the lights on."

We must, and we will.

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