On the Other Side of Despair is Hope

Our troubled world is mired in natural and human inflicted catastrophes that test our collective ability to see past our trauma.  With courage and hope, as countless generations before us have demonstrated, we can and will prevail over the oppressive forces that threaten our future on this day, and into the future.

Barbed wire was invented in 1867 as a cheap, quickly installed fencing material to contain cattle.  In fact, this innocuous invention was instrumental in “taming” the USA west.  This taming was presaged in the late 1800s by the range wars that resulted in the fencing of all open range lands.  One of the consequences of this fencing was the “Big Die Off” of 1885 which decimated cattle herds by blocking their natural migration away for blizzard conditions.

The use of barbed wire made the leap to human containment in the 1899 Boar War, WW1, and WW2.  In the 1930s through 1940s, the Nazi’s also electrified the wire to limit escapes from their concentration camps.  Since then, artistic representations of barbed wire have become symbolic of oppression, the denial of freedom, and human torture.  A most powerful image if this is Jesus Christ on the cross wearing a crown of thorns.

​Copyright 2017 michaelrkrozer
All rights reserved.


The world is full of lightness and ease.  The world is full of hardship and misery.  Which side of the spectrum you find yourself on depends on preparation, circumstances, and luck.

The collision of lightness with hardship and ease with misery is no more evident than when nature befalls destruction upon our communities.  While deployed with FEMA disaster recovery, I recently stood in the shattered remains of a home with an elderly couple in their 70’s.   Having limited financial net worth beyond their home, and at their advanced age, they found themselves removing mold ridden wall board, flooring, cabinetry and furniture.  This done, they now faced the challenge of reinstalling the same.

“Fortunately,” the man said, “we have our health, but this is very, very hard.”  He paused for a moment, his eyes scanning the room, finally settling on his wife, “This is all we have,” he said quietly.  “We have to do this.  We will do this.”

This couple and many like them who are trying to recover from a natural disaster are also faced with other daunting challenges; mortgage companies who will not temporarily suspend monthly payments; insurance companies who try to shirk their commitment by undervaluing damage estimates and depreciating replacement cost to the prices of materials when the home was originally built, then depreciating for usage; ever present roaming vandals; contractors who see a high demand market and quote exorbitant prices; material suppliers who also see a windfall opportunity and jack up prices; home flippers descending upon communities to buy homes out from under desperate owners at ridiculously low prices.

Federal, State, and local organizations like church groups and charities provide critical resources like funding, temporary housing, food, clothing, furniture, spiritual support and voluntary labor.  Many reputable local contractors also work at cost or for free to help their neighbors and community.  This action is truly heartening to see.

It is also sadly true that disasters provide the opportunity for fraud in the form of monetary theft of federal and state funds by unscrupulous disaster survivors and service providers.  For some recovery professionals immersed in this environment over long periods of time, a level of cynicism begins to creep into their attitude, displacing the compassion for survivors that brought them into relief work in the first place.  Maintaining a focus on the plight of the overwhelming majority of humanity in their purview should be their first priority, not politics or administration.

A disaster is the crucible that tests the morality and compassion of a society and its individuals.  From my experience, despite what is wrong with the delivery of relief, what is right in tough times is truly astonishing.

Copyright 2017 michaelrkrozer
All rights reserved.

Copyright 2017 michaelrkrozer.  All rights reserved.

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Take a look at our NEW web series, As The Kro Flies.


The Other Side of Despair is Hope.

The Meaning of Compassion.  The crucible of disaster.


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