Too Much Hyperbole

Then Ben-Hadad sent another message to Ahab: “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if enough dust remains in Samaria to give each of my men a handful.”
The king of Israel answered, “Tell him: ‘One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off.’”
Ben-Hadad heard this message while he and the kings were drinking in their tents, and he ordered his men: “Prepare to attack.” So they prepared to attack the city.

  • 1 Kings 20:10-12

Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials.  “And that’s not all,” Haman added.  “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave.  And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow.  But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.”

  • Esther 5:11-13

Then Hannah prayed and said:
“My heart rejoices in the Lord;
    in the Lord my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
    for I delight in your deliverance.

  • 1 Samuel 2:1

The Scriptures speak of boasting.  Ben Hadad boasted, but King Ahab defeated him.  Yes, evil King Ahab won that round.  The evil Haman boasted as he became determined to destroy Mordecai, but the gallows meant for Mordecai was used to rid the land of Haman thanks to Queen Esther’s intervention.

But then there is proper boasting.  Hannah boasted of God blessing her with a son, Samuel.  They focus of Hannah’s boast was her own humility.  Who was she to be granted such a gift from God?  She gave God all the praise, and dedicated Samuel to God’s service in the bargain.

In these days of constant fact checking, politicians continue to lie, with ready made lies in their pocket when they are confronted with the truth.  Whatever it takes to look good.

We recently had a very bad tropical storm/ hurricane, Ida, that hit the Louisiana coast as a major hurricane.  Massive flooding and power loss hit New Orleans and the countryside around the city.  But the storm, now no longer a hurricane, caused flooding and power outages all the way to New England.  I think at last count, more people lost their lives in New Jersey than did in Louisiana where the storm was at hurricane strength.

But then the storm was over, and the politicians had to get in front of the cameras.  While the mayors of Louisiana cities and towns, along with their governor, commended their first responders and encouraged the people of their communities, the mayor and governors of the northeastern states used words like catastrophic and unprecedented.  Instead of using calming words, they escalated fear.  Most people know that the tropical storm season has not reached its midpoint and that in a typical year 70% of the storms are yet to come.  If this was historic, unprecedented, and catastrophic, what happens when the stronger storms hit?

Of course, much of this hyperbole has purpose, and all of it is more about getting reelected than it is about sympathy or empathy.  Politicians cannot even spell those words, much less have it within themselves to feel those things.  Ouch!  Did I just write that?!  Should I add… allegedly?!

But then the northeastern state politicians also say, “We are going to see to it that this never happens again.”  They lift themselves above God.  And the people bow before them.  This is not total hyperbole.  They will ensure that their small group of friends that all live in a gated community will have uninterruptible power supply and the gate will be fitted with heavy flood barrier moving walls to ensure they will never be flooded.  But the common citizen?  They are on their own.  Here I go again … allegedly?!

In the totally allegedly category, I heard from friends in New Orleans about the time of Hurricane Katrina that the area had been granted millions in federal dollars to repair the levee system, but the governor and mayor of New Orleans took the money to build a private boat dock, on the levee, for their yachts.  Allegedly, as I have no proof, only rumors from friends in that area, and a juicy article of that nature might have taken some of the heat off George W. Bush and the media was loving the hot water he was in at the time.

Was the storm historic or unprecedented in Louisiana?  No.  It was catastrophic and by the time this gets posted, people will still be without homes, businesses, etc. in that area.  Was the storm historic and unprecedented in the northeast?  Yes.  New York had never experienced an official flood emergency before.  Many people died in New Jersey, mostly, from what I hear, in flooded basements.  We even had flash flooding in the Pittsburgh area with fast water evacuations within blocks of our church, and there are people using our church to have a roof over their heads.  But the hyperbole was meant to have all the attention turned toward New York City and the tri-state area around the city.

I am quite tired of that.  The heartland of America has down-to-earth people that help their neighbor when times are tough.  They like wholesome television shows, but their voice is never heard, because the population centers out vote them.  I am not diminishing the deaths, but the destruction is no big deal in Louisiana only because they expect it.  They have plans in place and when a monster storm does things you never expected, they roll with the punches, while calming down the citizens with words about how we will all get through this together – heartland of America kind of words. Okay, many of the people in New Orleans are … different, but they seem to find the cameras more than the heartland folks do.

Do the people in the northeast need help?  Sure, they do.  Some of the homes may be ruined for a long time.  Some of the businesses may never reopen.  In our hometown, the bank that our landlady uses may not be reopened for months.  Many of these places have no flood insurance because they had never had a flood like this latest one.  Sure, historic and unprecedented, but those words could have waited for people’s nerves to settle a little. You know, used in a sentence like “Folks, you have just survived and come out the other side of historic and unprecedented times.” Encouraging, not fear mongering.

But ensuring it will never happen again?  Sorry, politician, but you are not God.

And a word of advice to these politicians.  If you go to show your respect to those who lost their lives, do not keep checking your watch.  This time I do not need to type allegedly.  There are pictures.

And as for the weather reporter who I have issues with anyway, he said two things about LaPlace, LA that were not accurate.  (Wow!  That was an understatement.)  He said that the officials were encouraging everyone to not return if they were safe where they had gone for evacuation.  Then he gave his reason for not returning, “There is nothing out here that could sustain life.”

Really?!!?  There is nothing out here that could sustain life?!?!  What are you breathing while giving your report, toxic chlorine gas?  When they had hurricanes a hundred years ago, did they all die because they had to work harder to boil water and dig through the debris to get down to the garden level and dig some more to find the sweet potatoes?  No, they moved on and rebuilt.  Life was sustained.

What the reporter meant by his hyperbole was that there was no electricity or potable water supply.  Some towns were inaccessible due to bridges being out.  Still today, air in LaPlace, LA has oxygen enough to breath, but the grocery stores, if they are not leveled, do not have electricity.  The gas stations may have gas, but their pumps do not work – again, no electricity.  And the air conditioning in your home in LaPlace does not work.  And for you animal lovers, dogs and cats survived before air conditioning was ever invented, it is not animal cruelty to deprive them of such.

But, I wonder if people in Louisiana will die from heat stroke due to the minimal amount of cooling stations and people not being acclimated.  Forget acclimation, they may not be accustomed to working as hard as you must work to muck out a house before the mildew sets in.

The other thing that the reporter said was that the storm did 80% of the damage in that town.  But there were no deaths in the town.  In that respect, the northeast had it worse.  With the relief being shifted toward the northeast based on political hyperbole, the city outside New Orleans that may have had 80% of the Louisiana damage from the storm may wait a little longer and may be forgotten.  Especially when the next big storm hits.

But in the midst of all the hyperbole from the reporters and the politicians, there are many, many people working long hours, many of them volunteers, many from the local churches.  They are feeding people.  They are mucking out houses.  They are, when allowed to do so, cutting paths down tree- and debris-strewn streets so that first responders can respond if they need to, the power crews can reach the houses that need power restored, and the residents can check on some precious memory hanging on the wall to see if it is salvageable.

These volunteers don’t talk much.  Maybe the coordinator thanks the workers on camera for all their help.

Why are they not part of the hyperbole parade?

They are too busy putting words into action – loving their neighbor.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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