I have been increasingly impressed by the support rallied on our campus for the Katrina victims. Students have organized relief efforts, contributed money and donated their time and talents to raise awareness and aid them.

Throughout our country, citizens have united around one common undertaking – the relief effort for Katrina. People have not only donated their money, but also their time by going to New Orleans to assist in the reconstruction.

Yet, in light of all these labors, we are still bound to see the selfish attitudes of mankind emerge. It might come as a shock to you, as it did to me, to learn that some victims have been the ones to abuse this abundant benevolence.

Currently, the federal Disaster Relief Fund and the Red Cross is distributing debit cards with a $2,000 spending limit to the families that have been most affected by the hurricane.

Intended for necessities such as food and toiletries, victims have been spotted making a few of their own therapeutic purchases.

Is it a shock that a woman in Houston, Texas, purchased a Louis Vuitton handbag?

What about the man who decided to stop by a few strip clubs on his way through town? And this is what my tax dollars are going to?

Somehow, this does not come as a shock to me. It seems I often hold the general character of mankind on somewhat of a pedestal, expecting the best of people.

The amount of altruistic assistance that has erupted across the nation due to the Katrina Disaster certainly affirms my natural inklings.

It is situations such as this that cause me to believe the best about people.

And then, on occasion, something quite different occurs. Something discouraging. Some pervert in Houston is abusing my tax money to ogle exotic dancers.

Yet it seems that my reaction may not be widely accepted. The bartenders at these strip joints, sympathetic as they are, have condoned the exploitation of these debit cards. Forget that my tax dollars are paying for it or that I have actively supported fundraising activities that have supplied the money.

My reaction to this situation is not due to a lack of sympathy. It is due to my shock and dismay at the character of a person who, in her most desolate moment, decides that a pair of $700 Manolo Blahnik shoes are more important than respecting the source of their new found income.

Is my initial notion regarding humanity incorrect then? I think not. Despite the devious decisions of a few individuals, I still believe that the Katrina relief efforts have brought out some of the finest qualities humanity possesses.

Ricketts can be reached at aricketts@campustimes.org.



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