Learning from Heroics

Terry H. Schwadron

Oct 1, 2022

The only nice thing that comes from disasters like Hurricane Ian hitting Florida is the outpouring of help — physical help, donations and caring for neighbors. That kind of heroics — and caring — is what has gotten us through storms, fire, floods and pandemics.

No first responder has been stopping a waist-deep water rescue to ask about immigration status first or interrogates what a suddenly homeless person’s sexual orientation might be or even spend a second thinking about race or identity.

Disasters are the immediate unifier and call forth our humanistic spirit.

Even arch political rivals like rightist Gov. Ron DeSantis and the far more liberal Joe Biden find themselves on the same side of providing federal aid to a state, waiving much of the usual red tape in the name of exigency — moves that Biden now is extending to other states where Ian was hitting.

The New York Times reminded us that as a congressman, DeSantis had actually voted against such storm aid for northeastern states hit by Hurricane Sandy, but that was states other than his own, and from a different office, when DeSantis was not seeking reelection or to be considered a valid presidential candidate. You know, the same DeSantis whose concern for humanity is so high that he was sending migrants on a wild goose chase to Martha’s Vineyard last week?

Likely a Short Break

Let’s hope that all the state and federal agencies can drop the hypocrisy to focus on the work at hand, now in multiple states and Puerto Rico, and stop the bickering.

The open question is always the same: Why are assured that it is all temporary, that by next week or next month we will drop our shared humane values for partisan in-fighting and clannish protectionism for our own?

It feels only a short time ago — though it is a decade — that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was so roundly booed by fellow Republicans for embracing then-president Barack Obama for providing the same kind of federal aid that we take for granted is coming to Florida. And the image of then-president Donald Trump showing up for a few hours after Puerto Rico’s hurricane to toss out paper towels before proving to be recalcitrant about providing continuing aid.

We should celebrate the hurricane heroes — but then demand from our politicians and ourselves that the heroics continue to color our views on a pluralistic society, on recognizing our basic shared human values, and on recognizing that the climate is changing, making these hurricanes and storms yet more fierce.

Just maybe the pols could think twice about the billions of dollars for the inevitable rebuilding efforts for coastal development that subject to the same cyclical devastation all over again. Just maybe they could use the humiliating lessons of nature to think anew about sniping at each other for partisan gain.





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