Poor Decisions in Flint, Michigan

A central authority is an important element in a country or a state. However, sometimes holding power over an entire community can be very dangerous. For example, every decision a president or governor makes can impact millions of lives. Therefore, a mistake could potentially cause severe harm towards the general population. An example of poor decision-making by the authority that led to a great damage would be the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The state of  Michigan decided to stop buying water from Detroit and change to a different water system that involved getting their water for the Flint River. This decision led to a disaster because the water from the Flint River was contaminated with high levels of lead. Immediately, the civilians noticed a change in the water because it was brownish, had a bad odor, and caused illness to people as well as animals. The reason the state resorted to make this drastic change was because they wanted to save money on water for cost cutting measures. Essentially, the state of  Michigan was going through a financial crisis and they assembled emergency managers in order to find a solution. These managers believed it was very expensive to buy water from Detroit and therefore they chose to cut the connection with Detroit and save money by using the Flint River. This makes me question did the intentions proposed by the emergency managers justify the consequences caused from the Flint Water Crisis?

Changing the water supply from Detroit to the Flint River produced severe health issues. According to peditraition Mona Hanna-Attisha, “the percentage of children with high blood lead level increased from 2.4 percent to 4.9 percent” (Anna Maria Barry-Jester). This statistic is important because at time the state officials did not want to make this health problem known to the general public. Hanna-Attisha took it upon herself to make this problem by informing  several news journals. She made it clear that the government was hiding the water crisis. After reading “What Went Wrong In Flint” I learned that the state officials claimed they did not know about the lead poisoning in children until Hanna-Attisha released her analysis. However, I find this hard to believe because there were other issues revolving the water from Flint River such as the color and the bad odor. In my opinion, it is hard to not make at least the assumption that there is some sort of substance which could harm the welling being of people. Many civilians had already complained about the color or odor. This is important for answering my question because it demonstrates that neither the state officials or the emergency managers wanted to take responsibility for the harm caused by the Flint River water. Hanna-Attisha exposed the government when she told the community of Flint Michigan that this information was being released solely in press conferences when it should have been publicitized to the general public through the form of news journals. It was a severe problem that young children were being poisoned and the people who caused this problem did not take full responsibility. Therefore, my final answer is that there was no justification because innocent children suffered severe health issues and no action was made towards preventing the water crisis. Avoiding to address the water crisis proved that the people in power were not acting morally correct. Although the purpose of changing the water supply had right intentions it provoked consequences to the entire community in particular little children. If the government would have admitted their mistake and looked for new solutions to help the victims it would have been more likely to be  justified. However, this was not the case because the state chose to hide the issue and continue generating money leaving the public to suffer. Overall, the lesson to take upon is that while authority is essential in a country or state, holding power requires a great responsibility that one must be willing to assume in the best and worst scenarios.


Caring From a Distance

In the play By the water by Sharyn Rothstein, Marty and Mary Murphy find themselves in a jam when they need money to pay off the mortgage against their own house. In addition to this financial crisis, Marty and Mary’s house was just destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. However Marty made his son, Sal,  the owner of the house so the debt is really in Sal’s name. Sal decides to pay off his family’s debt which has its consequences. He states, “It’s gonna push back Jen’s plans but, if we dig into our savings”(Rothstein, 48). It is peculiar how Jen is willing to make this sacrifice for Sal’s family, yet she is not there to help them with the destruction of their house or during this financial crisis. This lead to me to the question, does Jen help Marty and Mary out in an attempt to control her distance from them?

I believe Jen allowed Sal to buy out his parents debt for the purpose of distancing herself from them. If Marty and Mary decided to leave, they could potentially move closer to her and Sal which I do not think she wants. In a conversation discussing Jen’s opinion on Sal paying off his parents’ debt, Sal states, “At first, Jen was supportive. ‘Your parents are in need, we’ve got to help them’ ‘She really meant it, too.'”(Rothstein, 46). The diction that Rothstein uses in the word “meant” indicates that Jen does not feel as passionately about helping his parents as before. Also, this quote is another example of Jen showing her empathy towards Sal’s parents, but she is still not there. In conclusion, I believe Jen allowed Sal to buy out his parents’ debt to keep them away from her and Sal.

“Raised On It” – Sam Hunt

During class while we were reading “By the Water” by Sharyn Rothstein, we had a conversation about the significance of living in a community that is located by the water. Therefore, the question I will be addressing is: what is the significance being a part of a waterside community?

Sasha discussed the signficance of the water itself in her last blog post which I found to be very interesting. She pointed out that everything that happens throughout the plot of the play is in someone connected to the fact that they live so close to the water. For example, the fact that the hurricane happened to begin with, and then as a result of this, everyone in the family ends back up at the house together. Getting the family together is essential to the story as we see their relationships unfold in very deep and real ways. Ultimately, everyone has a different opinion about staying in their house by the water as a result of their own experiences there.

As someone who actually lives in the exact kind of community depicted in the play, I think I can definitely understand the appeal and struggle of living by the water. I’m not sure if its the water itself, or the tight-knit community by the water, but I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else to be honest. I don’t blame Marty for wanting to stay in his home, I even sympathize for him.  Bad things happen all the time, which is why its so hard to leave the places that bring us the most comfort. In 2012, my own house was badly damaged as a result of Hurricane Sandy. After being evacuated from our house, I was truly scared not knowing if I would ever call that house my home again. It was never about the house itself though, it was always about the memories. To have to leave the house and even the neighborhood that built you is beyond frightening.

Furthermore, in terms of living in a waterside community, there is no other community that is as close or as intimate. I’m not sure if its the seclusion of the neighborhood itself, or the similar lifestyles we live, but my neighborhood has truly contributed to my life in significant ways. My neighbors helped raised me, babysit me, two of them are my Godparents, and I may or may not have dated the boy next door. I might be a little biased, but there’s nothing quite like living by the water, and I don’t think its something I could ever let go of.

The Disaster That Rebuilt

In the play By The Water by Sharyn Rothstein Hurricane Sandy does major damage to Staten Island, the area in which the characters in the play lived. The question I pose is, even though the storm ruined the homes and merely all the property of the families of the Murphy’s and the Carter’s, did it also help rebuild the relationships of the families?

Sal, a very successful and wealthy man who is married and living in the city, had distanced himself from his family over time. However, after the storm, Sal went to go visit his family and offer his support. He developed a history of qualms with his brother in the past, but we see the brothers work out their difficulties. After three years without talking to each other, they are forced to deal with their struggling relationship. On page 52 Brian says to Sal, “You know I never really thank you, for what you did. Mostly ’cause I fucking hated you, so a thank-you never really felt appropriate, but… (Sal nods, takes it in. They sit in a moment of silence.)” Because the storm provided a setting for the brothers to reunite, they were able to squash their hate. The love that Brian and Emily had for each other in high school is rejuvenated. On page 42 Rothstein writes, “(He pulls her close to him. Emily takes a deep breath.) My mother’s gonna kill me. (Brian smiles. He kisses her.)” Would they have re-found this love for each other without a storm? A third relationship strengthened through these troublesome times is the relationship between Marty and Mary. When debating whether the couple should stay where they are or move, Mary finally stands up to Marty and asserts her opinion and says, “You’re gonna do it, or you can stay here in this, this nothing, all by yourself. ‘Cause I’m leaving. I will leave you… Hearts are broken all over the place. What’s one more?” Mary standing up to Marty cause him to come to the realization that he’s been tunnel visioned to his own agenda. He then treats Mary with an equal level of respect and her voice is heard.

All these relationships would never had been strengthened if a storm hadn’t come. As it says on the back cover of the play, “BY THE WATER reminds us that the very powers that tear us apart can also bring us together.”


Digging Deeper

Initial impressions of someone or something can be drastically altered once you go beyond the surface and figure more out. This is evident in the play “By the Water” by Sharyn Rothstein.  Marty Murphy, one of the main characters, is first presented as a family man who loves his small town and home on Staten Island. He is described in the character list as, “a community man with a fierce sense of loyalty and of the way the world should work,” (Rothstein, 5). He is immersed in the community, owning and working at various grocery stores in the area to provide for his family. His home is destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and struggles trying to convince other residents to stay on the island. When the class was asked which character we each sympathized with at the halfway point of the play, a majority answered with, “Marty.” However, when asked this same question after finishing the play there was maybe one person in class that had answered with Marty again. How did a few pages cause such a drastic difference? My answer is: we dug deeper.

During the second half of the play, a reader uncovers all of Marty’s hidden secrets.  As you continue to read, it can be found that Marty was financially unstable. There were subtle hints at this during the first half of the play, but never the full story. He stole money from the government to fund his grocery stores. Due to this, Marty covertly puts his house in his son Sal’s name. Marty did this because Sal was obviously more financially stable, but Marty did this without telling anyone including Sal and Marty’s wife Mary. Marty claims his excuse for doing this was to give his boy “a gift,” (Rothstein, 45). This was clearly not Marty’s true intention as his house would have been taken by the government if he kept it in his own name. In addition to this, Marty was already behind on the mortgage. As one can see, flipping a few more pages can change a person’s whole perspective on a character. You uncover something you never would have expected. In Marty’s case in “By the Water”, a family man becomes a fraud. Once you dig deeper, there is no going back. A true impression lasts forever.