Pointing The Finger

In a provocative story in HuffPost we find the Republicans blaming hurricane Sandy for the predicted loss of their Presidential candidate. Instead of talking of the devastation and suffering the storm has caused, or the likelihood that this storm is the first vivid sign for a great many people that the planet is in fact in danger, the talk instead in the Republican camp — especially by “Republican strategist” (read “mega-doner”) Karl Rove — is about how the storm halted their candidate’s momentum. Consider Rove’s comment:

“If you hadn’t had the storm, there would have been more of a chance for the [Mitt] Romney campaign to talk about the deficit, the debt, the economy,” Rove said. “There was a stutter in the campaign. When you have attention drawn away to somewhere else, to something else, it is not to his [Romney’s] advantage.”

Obviously this comment was made prior to election day. It would suggest that the brain trust within the Republican party was reading the handwriting on the wall and preparing to find someone or something to blame for their loss. It can’t possibly be the result of their man’s inherent inconsistency, his recurring gaffes, his ineptitude, or his proclivity for telling untruths and then denying that they are untruths. It has to be the Frankenstorm…… or something.

I find this story interesting on two counts. To begin with, it suggests that these people are more disturbed about the storm’s impact on the election than on the thousands of people who are struggling to put their lives back together after the worst storm to hit the Northeast in recorded history, or the fact that this storm portends future catastrophes that might in fact dwarf this one. Secondly, it suggests a mind-set that looks for excuses somewhere else: it’s not us, it’s them (or in this case, it). The lack of sympathy for the victims is especially galling. Note the further comment:

Putting all campaigning aside, [New Jersey Gov.] Christie repeatedly commended Obama’s outreach and support in a rare show of bipartisanship — the kind the president has been promising to pursue if he wins a second term. Earlier on Saturday, Politico reported that the Romney campaign was frustrated by Christie’s recent show of affection for Obama, another sign that they felt their candidate had been placed in a losing position on account of the storm.

Again the lack of sympathy for their fellow humans and nothing kind to say about one of their own who had the audacity to show his gratitude to a politician from the other party. Christie, as expected, apologized to the Republican leadership and came back quietly into the fold. He aspires, after all, to be the Republican Presidential candidate the next time around. In any event I don’t yet know who will be our next President. But I sincerely hope it is a man who has people around him who have their priorities straight, who know what is important — that the suffering of their fellow humans is more important than winning an election. And I also hope they are people who are willing to take responsibility for their actions.

Unsung Heroes

The recent “Frankenstorm” that hit the Northeast and left such devastation in its wake gives us pause. We can feel sympathy for the terrible losses in lives and property those people sustained and the suffering they continue to endure. But we can also marvel at the heroism of ordinary people who came together at such a time and exhibited true selflessness. It has been said before and it needs to be said again: the true heroes are the ones we hear very little about. They are the ones like the  medical personnel at New York University’s Langone Medical Center who acted quickly when the storm knocked out the power in their hospital, including the backup generator. They moved 300 patients, including a number “preemies” whose lives depended on the fluids being pumped into their tiny bodies from equipment driven by the electrical impulses that suddenly stopped. None of the lives was lost, due to the determined and selfless actions of a group of people who quietly save lives every day. And there are the dozens of volunteers who are currently taking meals door to door to senior citizens trapped in their apartments on Staten Island where things are growing more tense with each passing day. There are countless more people whom we will never read or hear about who came forward to help others during the storm and the aftermath.

But there are also small stories we hear about that did not emerge from the hurricane  — like the high school football team in Queen Creek, Arizona who befriended a 16 year-old girl who was subjected to such bullying that she went home each day in tears. As we are told in a brief Huffington Post story:

Players including the star quarterback have rallied behind Chy Johnson, a 16-year-old special needs student who was tormented by kids at school, reports 3TV News and azfamily.com.

The players now eat with her at lunch and watch her back.

Chy is now a happy kid who looks forward to school each day even more than she used to fear it. I like to think I am a realist. But my world view borders on cynicism when it comes to the stupidity I see in my fellow humans each day. I have voiced my feelings on numerous occasions in these blogs. I mean, really, how can this presidential race even be close, for Pete’s sake? And why on earth are we still discussing global warming while the Midwest suffers from serious drought, freakish storms tear apart lives in the Northeast, and the oceans rise as the ice caps continue to melt? But there comes a time when one must acknowledge that there is good in most of us. We just seem to be unable to bring it to the light much of the time. It takes a crisis such as a major storm or the repeated bullying of an innocent young girl whose plight suddenly is seen as unacceptable by a group of her fellow students.

The interesting question is why it takes extraordinary events or situations to bring out the best in each of us. Given the widespread need of hundreds of thousands of people on this planet every day, why do we wait until pushed to the extreme before we allow ourselves to feel sympathy for our fellow humans and take action? These questions will continue to nag at me; but I give thanks that there are a great many people who are compassionate and capable of selfless acts. These are the true heroes and they give us hope.