A Tale of Two Cities

Together with the rest of the world, I have been witnessing the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Katrina, particularly in the beautiful, historic city of New Orleans. As I’ve watched, I’ve been reminded of the immortal words of Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

That phrase summarizes for me the good and bad aspects of human nature that have been on display the last couple of days. “The best of times” has been represented by the heroic rescue efforts of the brave emergency personnel in New Orleans. Yet “the worst of times” also has been on display, namely through the brazen acts of thievery perpetrated by desperate city residents.

During a visit to New Orleans for a convention, I found the city charming, but for the notable exception of Bourbon Street. So it is with sadness that I see its downtown district awash in waves of water. But it is the human story that I find most disheartening. I can’t help but recall the quote I read of a tourist as she observed the rampant looting of the French Quarter: “I thought this was a sophisticated city, but I guess not.” A tale of two cities indeed.

As I try to make sense of the situation that continues to unfold, I also am reminded of the timeless words of Jesus found in Matthew 6:19-20: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”