In junior high, I had a shop teacher who would tell us repeatedly, “Plan your work and work your plan.” The tragedy? His advice was sound, but he might as well have been talking to himself. We never listened.
But now we’re adults. We appreciate that shop teacher’s wisdom. And Mondays are perhaps good days to lay hold of this admonition.
Many readers of this blog will be planning their work week around one or another aspect of a Weather-Ready Nation. Here are a couple of thoughts as we all get started. Later on this week there should be more. Initially, they might seem to represent separate threads. But as each is introduced, please reflect a bit. Perhaps they weave into a fabric.
To launch the week’s discussion, consider the difference between Weather-Ready Nation: The Slogan, and Weather-Ready Nation: the Way of Life.
Weather-Ready Nation: The Slogan. Slogans are important! Think of Live free or die. To thine own self be true. One nation, indivisible. Semper fidelis. Any job worth doing is worth doing well. Think differently. Ask another question. Learn more. You can come up with your own, more-personalized list. What are the slogans you live by? Slogans provide a rallying cry. They motivate us and guide us as we make a range of decisions.
Right now, NOAA and many stakeholders are doing all they can to establish the idea of a Weather-Ready Nation in America’s thinking, and to inject the phrase into American vocabulary. Workshops, briefings, interviews, speeches…a lot of leaders in our field, in the public and private sectors, in academia, in NGO’s, are staying on message, hammering home this idea to any audience who’ll listen. Well and good. Ingraining this notion in our thought process and our conversation? As 300 million of us cope with what’s arguably the world’s most perilous weather? Build resilience to hazards? Can’t happen soon enough.
But to bring benefit, to make for a better world, slogans have to be taken to heart, lived-out in daily experience, made part of the culture.
Take for, example, these slogans: Love your enemies. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Put others first. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Do not judge, lest ye be judged. We all know these slogans, and many more. But do we live them? Perhaps not so well. If we did, maybe there’d be a lot less warfare. Less terrorism. Less exploitation of the poor and disadvantaged. [And living these precepts would do more than any scientific advance to get us all on the same page with respect to climate change and other environmental challenges.]
And so the world could still stand some improving. Which brings us to
Weather-Ready Nation: The Way of Life. Reaching this goal, getting past the slogan to the point where we’ve internalized this in our individual and national decisions and actions as well as our thought process? That’ll require a lot more work than promoting the slogan, won’t it? That’s less a sprint for a few people for a few months, and more of a multi-year slog for all of us. It’s not so much a task for weather professionals as it is for the general populace. That’s less a matter of what happens within the Beltway, in the corridors of OMB and the Congress…and more of a matter of what happens town by town and county by county – and home by home – across the United States. It may even be less about reaching today’s adults, and more about breaking through to those millions of nearly-impenetrable junior-high minds while the kids are still growing up.
So, as you and I think and work today, as we do all that planning needing to roll out the idea of a Weather-Ready Nation and capture the American imagination, let’s balance our laser-focus on the immediate term and today’s urgent deadlines with some of the preparation needed for the long haul. If we’re asking Americans all across the country to make common cause with us, then we need to put in place a framework and resources that will make their contributions effective.
The American Meteorological Society could perhaps help here. More on just how tomorrow.