Howard's Way 8 September 2005

Contributed by editor on Sep 08, 2005 - 11:17 AM

HOWARD'S WAY.... a weekly column from Michael Howard MP

I have visited New Orleans twice.

The first time, over 50 years ago, was at the end of a debating tour of American Colleges and universities which I had taken part in under the auspices of the English Speaking Union. I spent time in the French Quarter, listened to the jazz and enjoyed its very special food.

The second time was decades later when I was Water Minister. There were thought to be some lessons to be learned from the way in which the city handles the supply of water.

What a bitter irony in view of last week’s tragic events!

I found it difficult to reconcile my enjoyable and nostalgic memories with the terrible scenes which we have, once again, seen on our television screens, night after night.

Like last year’s Tsunami, this latest natural calamity reminds us of the frailties of the human condition. But there are differences.

The fact that this time the area affected is part of the richest and most powerful nation on earth somehow increases our bewilderment. And the possibility that the still unknown but obviously enormous number of casualties may have been contributed to by the inadequacy of the initial response – in the United States, of all countries – give rise to many questions.

No doubt there will be lessons for all of us to learn.

But behind it all has the fundamental fact that, despite all mankind’s achievements, we remain pitifully vulnerable to forces far beyond our control.

And, as we feel for those who have lost loved ones, and those who are still waiting to hear, that is something we forget at our peril.