Chapter One

Get in the Boat

Be compassionate. And take responsibility for each other. If we only learned those lessons, this world would be so much better a place.

Morrie Schwartz1

I saw the same images you did: rooftops barely exposed above water, bodies floating in rivers, the Superdome overrun with people and trash, the crush of humanity trying to escape the floods and the shelters. Looters, soldiers, politicians, residents, and journalists reaching their boiling points, often on television.

When I got to New Orleans a few days after Hurricane Katrina blew through in September 2005, telephone poles looked like mangled fingers from an underground monster. Tops of trees were shorn off. Steel beams from unfinished structures bent as ...

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