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Jack Simpson - Rain dances are fine, but do we have a fallback plan?

I was not there, so I can only imagine how some of our early Americans reacted to drought. In my fantasy, I can see a gathering of American Indians along a river bank where the water level has dropped and the foliage on the shrubs and grass is in distress. Crops need water and a rain dance has been suggested as a way to call upon the spirits for assistance.

Representatives of the Creeks, Arapahos, Commanches and Cherokee have put aside some of their differences to dance together for needed rain. The colorful dancers join in a circle and gaze toward the heavens, beating their drums and chanting as they pray for lightning, clouds and a storm. Are the spirits listening?

Rattles shake, feathers are waved and all proclaim their good standing among the tribes, the earth and God. It is the natural world that ensures the wellbeing of the people.

I also was not there recently when Gov. Sonny Purdue and his followers gathered to offer prayers for rain. Unlike the American Indians of yesteryear, the governor could hedge his bets and take advantage of scheduling his prayer day at a time when local weathermen predicted showers. Timing has a great deal to do with a rain dance. Pray the day before rain is predicted and you will have a pretty good chance for success.

Since Georgia is in a serious drought, prayers certainly can't hurt - be they prayers from medicine men or governors. No need to ridicule a well-intentioned governor, even if he isn't equipped with feathers and rattles. After all, he probably is sincere in his belief in the Almighty and the power of prayer.

Maybe he feels prayer is the least he can offer, since his administration has not taken a strong stand on overdevelopment, easy loans for people who can't afford to pay them and water conservation. Why not seek God's beneficent providence?

Some say we are in a "man-made disaster" and the blame does not rest entirely with the Army Corps of Engineers or the states of Alabama and Florida. Georgia has not been controlling its rapid growth and building up its infrastructure. A United Nations panel says climate change is "the defining challenge of our age." Has Georgia made its contribution to the resolution of the problem?

Georgia farmers learned early in their careers that raising a healthy herd of cows depends upon not placing more animals in a field than can find food, water and shelter. Farmers did not add to herds without planning for their care. Prolonged drought requires more planning.

So, prayers are good, but if Georgia does not also control rapid growth, stop depleting its resources and encourage wise leadership, how can the burden be shifted to God to solve the problems?

I wish the governor well. I trust his rain dance is successful, and that he works to strengthen his stewardship of the environment and state government.

Each of us can join here, shake our feathers, rattles and roll our drums. We can fall to our knees, fold our hands, look to the heavens and pray to the Almighty to guide us out of this drought. Yes, but I have heard it said that "the Lord helps those who help themselves" and that "faith and hope are eternal."

As we await answers to our prayers, let's plan ahead and conserve our water. We do not want to join the mussels as an endangered species.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author, and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Sunday.