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.

The similarities and differences between euthanasia and murder

Having read The Deadly Choices at Memorial, I am shocked by the scenes that happened in a hospital under the circumstance of hurricane. When I read to the part of doctors and physicists giving euthanasia to some patients in the 3rd D.N.R. series, a question comes into my mind: the border between euthanasia and murder lies in what place? There are two points that the two actions share, which makes the border ambiguous. First, both euthanasia and murder are illegal in most of the places around the world. If one decides to carry out either of the actions, the person will understand that law will investigate the self until an appropriate decision is made to the “killer”. A person that has clear mind will react as what Richard said to Mulderick: “Euthanasia’s illegal…. There’s not any need to euthanize anyone. I don’t think we should be doing anything like that” (Fink, page 14) Second, the process and result of euthanasia and murder are almost the same: A person chooses to use an object for killing another person, and acts out till the person’s death. The two sharing points can lead to many wandering or complex law cases in reality, as the arresting to Pou in the article (Fink, page 26).

The two actions differ in their motivation: Due to a kind of humanistic characteristic of people – one should leave being tranquil and painless – the physicists have the power to treat the patients with euthanasia, and the power can be positive and reasonable. Adding the risk of being charged of law, the situation brings ethical dilemma for the executers, which can be proved by the action of Gremillion: crying and grabbing his arm, while saying “I can’t do this” (Fink, page 18-19). However, a murder in general often initiates because of hatred or disappointment, which are negative emotions of human kind. Although the killers with such mindset may hesitate before execution, the power keeps working to make them commit the guilty. Another difference can be the person’s purpose for taking the action. Because of the irreversible illness and the triage policy, it was almost certain that some patients in the Memorial Hospital is going to be treated to death. If the physicists act out euthanasia, the purpose will be reasonable, because they consider both the victims’ and the hospital’s situation, even facing with the law’s punishment. Therefore, it is different from murdering, whose purpose can be gaining something valuable from the victim to support the murderer’s self. Thus, one can know that the murderer does not consider either the feeling or benefit of the victim.

If people face complex cases as what happened in the article, the differences between euthanasia and murder can be the key points that help solve the problem.

Fear of Discomfort

In the play, By the Water, written by Sharyn Rothstein, Marty Murphy presents his love and compassion of the house he owns in Staten Island, New York by ignoring the comments and opinions of his closest loved one’s. Marty Murphy is defensive about leaving this house behind because of the many memories and history that have been developed over the past few decades. Even though this is a very obvious response of Marty Murphy’s feelings towards being asked to leave, is there a chance Marty does not want to part ways with this house because of his fear of discomfort?

I believe many humans live a life following a fixed program. Everyone wakes up in the morning, brushes their teeth, eats breakfast, goes to work or school, etc. Society has made humans become used to the idea of repetition, which gives people a sense of calmness. I believe Marty Murphy has reached an age where people become too comfortable with this repetition. Ultimately, when the house is inflicted by the storm, Marty becomes agitated and afraid of altering this comfortable lifestyle he has become accustomed to living. This agitation and fear are viewed when he says, “this is where we belong, Sal. This is where everyone knows us: We’re Marty and Mary Murphy. We have history here. Besides, we’ve survived storms like this before” (Rothstein, 12). Marty finds a deep affection for living his life in this house because he has spent his entire life accepting that this is the position he will be in for the rest of his life. Marty expresses his fear of leaving and accepting a different future while saying “This is where everyone knows us.” He fears the idea of leaving his past and becoming no one. He finds a purpose because of the decades of his life he has spent living his comfortable life. As a result, Marty’s discomfort of visualizing a life without his house, conveys his fear of losing a particular lifestyle filled with his particular daily routines. I believe Marty is not worried about losing an old house passed down from generation to generation, but is scared of losing a life of comfort.

Wicked Water

In the play “By the Water” by Sharyn Rothstein, we are introduced to a family who lives near the water in Staten Island, New York and they have just been affected by Hurricane Sandy  which has destroyed their entire community by the water. The whole family gets into a heated debate over whether they should stay and remodel their house by the water or if they should move because a hurricane like this will probably happen again in the future. Sal, the son of Marty and Mary, wants them to leave, while Marty is set on staying because this house and location by the water has sentimental value and Mary is stuck in the middle. It is because of the fact that they live by the water that they are having this debate in the first place. In the end, the couple decides to move somewhere new, but it is ironic because they want to live somewhere by the water still.

After reading this play, I began to question why Rothstein chose the title of this play to be “By the Water.” Why wouldn’t she choose a title that highlighted the destruction of the family and their community? This is when I realized that in every sentence I have written to summarize the play, I have mentioned the words “by the water.” In fact, the fact that Marty and Mary are located by the water is what dictates everything in the play. For example, because they live by the water, the water caused the destruction of their home, which in turn caused Sal to come back to help his parents which started the argument to move, which led Marty to reveal that he had put the house in Sal’s name which led to further blame and arguments in their family which led to Marty finally realizing it may be time to move, move to a place by the water of course. The use of this title in fact ends up highlighting the destruction of the family and their community because it is the water that causes all the destruction in this play in the first place. On a lighter note, being by the water is also the place that makes the family happy and, thus, is why they don’t want to move away from their home or to a place far from the water. If they hadn’t lived by the water, this play wouldn’t even exist because there would be no storm and thus no story to tell. Therefore this title is perfect for this play because it was entirely dictated “by water.”

Relationship with a House?

In the play, By The Water, by Sharon Rothstein, Marty, the father of two, is in a dilemma where the whole community he lives in wants to leave because of the destruction of Hurricane Sandy. Marty however, wants to stay in his town and not leave the home he has started his family in. I will question what Marty’s house symbolizes to him?

I think Marty’s house represents a toxic relationship with a girlfriend. What I mean by this is that whatever happens or no matter how big of a fight (the house getting ruined) they get in, Marty always comes back even though he should not. He thinks about all the good memories the house and him had together. For example when he is talking to his wife, Mary, he explains to her all the great times they had together in that house. He states, “I was a kid here. We started our family here. How many mornings have we had, walking down to the beach, the sun coming up, looking out over Brooklyn, thinking ‘Brooklyn. What schmucks.’ I’ve been the luckiest man on the planet” (23). Even though Marty has had a lot of great times in his house, there becomes a point where he has to move on like one would have to do if they were in a toxic relationship. One can not keep coming back if they know that they are going to get hurt. Marty has to stop coming back to the old house because he knows that there is going to be another storm that is going to cause more problems in his life like a toxic girlfriend would.

Tragedy at Memorial Hospital: Were the right decisions made?

Looking back at the tragedy at Memorial Hospital, it is easy to criticize certain actions. For example, I was wondering if there was a possibly to evacuate prior to the storm, or make sure the hospital had a functioning generator that would work for an extended period of time. Now, let’s say none of those options were viable. Did the medical professionals and staff members make the right decision when deciding who got evacuated from memorial?

I believe the answer is yes. Given the circumstances, Dr. Pou and her associates acted with composure and tried to land on the best possible outcome. Due to the fact that there was not sufficient help and resources, it was inevitable that some might not make it out. According to Pou, she was “trying to do the most good with a limited pool of resources.” Although I recognize the outage from those of the deceased victims, the magnitude of this disaster was unlike any other in recent memory. Traditional triage systems call for the patients in the worst health to be evacuated first, while the healthier patients wait. This is the opposite of what happened. Given the severity of the situation, it was likely that they severely ill patients would not have survived the trip to the new hospital, let alone the horrible conditions. Additionally, when initially making this decision to evacuate patients with a D.N.R last, it was still believed that every single patient would be evacuated. However, this turned out not to be the case. According to Dr. Diechmann, the doctor who initially floated this idea, “I believed they should go last because they would have had the ‘least to lose’ compared with other patients if calamity struck.” I think this reasoning is valid, because the doctors were trying to ensure that the least loss of life occurred. This is similar to Dr. Pou’s statements following Katrina. She said, “No, I did not murder those patients. Mr. Safer, I’ve spent my entire life taking care of patients” (60 Minutes). This shows that the doctors were just trying to make the best decision based on their judgement of the situation. I believe they were successful in doing so, as there were over 2,000 people who needed to be evacuated, and a high number of patients survived the transport. I recognize that difficulty of this decision, but ultimately, I think the decisions made by the doctors in Memorial Hospital allowed for the best possible outcome in this awful situation.