One of the risks in writing a blog as an adjunct to your day job is that occasionally you get tired or hurried and you leave out stuff. Stuff that matters.
The previous post is a good example. All yesterday, as I’d been working as an AMS staffer helping get our Annual Meeting cranked up here in Atlanta, I had in mind an excellent Christian Science Monitor piece on the ice storm and aftermath here. A friend and colleague of many years, John Knox, a professor at the University of Georgia, had drawn my attention to the article.
In a way, the term aftermath is a misnomer. One focus of the article was Georgia’s decision some years back to let go David Stooksbury, the Georgia state climatologist at the time. The reporter described Mr. Stooksbury’s services in that former role and how they helped the state respond effectively to similar past events, and how his services were missed this time around (except in Athens, where he’s still been doing a bit of consulting). The article is worth reading in its entirety.
I’d even developed a separate category for the post that was formulating in my mind.
When we talk about the weather, we tend to talk about the near-term weather. What happened yesterday. What’s underway now. What’s going to hit tomorrow.
In this time frame, our options for responding are limited.
We might expand the conversation to include the weather likely to hit five or ten years from now. Or twenty. This is the time horizon that affects our decisions with respect to where to build, how to build, how to protect the economic activities we hope will be the lifeblood of our community over that period, the education for our children, the healthcare for the community. We can make better decisions over a wide range of issues on this time frame.
Well, you guessed it. What was supposed to be the centerpiece was what inadvertently got omitted when I wrote the post shortly before midnight. Thankfully, John Knox, a professor at the University of Georgia, caught the omission, per his comment. Thank you, John! Good to hear from you on any subject, especially this one.
John closed his thoughtful remarks by noting that I jumped the gun in implying we need to get beyond the blame game, and noting sometimes others truly are to blame. That latter bit is true enough. But somehow, seems to me, it’s never too early to stop blaming others, and look inside ourselves at what’s wrong and needs fixing in ourselves. When I check, I find enough shortcomings to last a lifetime. Most of us know when we’ve done less than our best, and it gnaws at us. That’s the only punishment needed. We are grateful for those rare words of forgiveness, grace, and encouragement from others when they occasionally break through in an otherwise highly critical age and culture.
I’m firmly in your corner on this one (if that doesn’t scare you, nothing will!). No one wins the “Blame Game.” And in Atlanta, it really obscures the reality of what happened. The Blame Game is based on linear thinking. If X, then Y. Eliminate X, then Y won’t happen.
In a small town that might actually work, but not in a complex system like metro Atlanta. Too many moving parts. Lots of unfortunate decisions that provided a sort of constructive [destructive] interference to reinforce each one’s impacts. Better not to blame but to learn. Learn to use all of the information available. Learn to talk with with others who may be affected. Learn to plan for ourselves, our families, our organizations. Learn to plan so that there’s plenty of room for uncertainty and error. And, finally, learn a little humility – good people sometimes make mistakes (boy, I’ve made some doozies!); and sometimes the best of plans are going to fail.