“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters” – Epictetus
Epictetus was a Greek sage and philosopher who lived about the time of Christ. It’s hard to believe he said it exactly thus. Somehow the above language seems a little modern. One web site quotes him slightly differently … “When anything external distresses us, it is not the event which causes us pain, rather, our response to it… … and this we have the power to revoke at every given moment.”
Either way, the idea’s the same.
We’re in the season when both political parties get to live this truth to a special intensity, in multiple ways.
One small cloud right now for Republicans? Tropical Storm Isaac.
It’s early days yet, and Isaac is still in the Atlantic, east of the Caribbean. Its intensity or degree of organization five or so days from now? Anyone’s guess. The same goes for the forecast track. But as of this writing, the forecast track, though highly uncertain, shows Isaac possibly making Florida landfall as the Republican Convention, scheduled for August 27-30 gets underway in Tampa, Florida.
This is just the kind of scenario that gives event-planners, emergency managers – and weather forecasters – fits. A hurricane making landfall in Tampa is trouble enough under ordinary circumstances. But human affairs create not just locations of special vulnerability, but place-time windows that are particularly problematic.
The Convention would seem to qualify. There’s the matter of flying all those people into what may prove to be harm’s way. Folks coming in early, for preliminary events, or maybe because they’re charged with getting things ramped up? They shouldn’t have any problem getting in. Many are there already. But what will conditions be like over the several days of the convention itself? And what kind of welcome awaits the late arrivals? What about any aftermath?
Isaac could dissipate. Its track could veer. As events unfold over the next several days, it may well be that all the players will wind up breathing a collective sigh of relief. We hope that’s the case!
Or what’s now only a bit of a muddle could become a snarl, or a tragedy. Let’s pray that we dodge that outcome.
But channeling Epictetus, what 300 million Americans really want to see is all the actors bringing their best game, with leaders at every level and of every party, regardless of role, balancing the need for safety with the need to give priority to an important milestone in our quadrennial political process… and balancing attention to the needs of those who claim Florida as home with the special requirements of their distinguished visitors. We want to see measured preparation, matched to the threat as it ebbs or grows. An effective emergency response if called for. A swift and complete recovery if needed. We want to see the Florida public and their guests at their very best.
And those in our community very much hope that the new director of the NOAA/NWS National Hurricane Center and his staff; NWS employees from the forecast desk in the local offices to the headquarters in Silver Spring MD; the broadcast meteorologists and all the companies providing weather services to the public; and all their partners in making Tampa, Florida, and the nation weather-ready acquit themselves well. May they bring honor to their calling and their community.
As they develop their forecasts, may they recall other words of Epictetus:
“First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.”
And may all those in the Caribbean and along the U.S. coast who might find themselves in harm’s way recall his observation that
“The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests. ”