Posted on March 17 , 2021
Lessons from COVID-19 Part 4
Thank you to all the people who have sent me their good wishes following my February blogs., which further reaffirms the value of a great family and friend support system. Some have also identified with the lessons and provided their very welcome comments, for which I am truly appreciative and encouraged. As I’ve said to my students countless times, one of the best ways to learn is to teach. And as I share these lessons I find myself further inspired, learning more and more about myself and my relationship to events around the world.
Take, for example, the recent climate crisis in Texas.
Lesson – An ounce of prevention…..
Benjamin Franklin, in 1736, famously advised of fires that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Clearly, preventing a house from catching fire is better (easier, more efficient, yields higher quality of life) than allowing it to catch fire and putting the fire out (ignoring insurance fraud situations). Isn’t it natural to apply the same logic to inclimate weather disasters?
The governor of Texas, and for that matter many of their elected officials, appear to have never considered this proverb. Or perhaps some of them, like the despicable Ted Cruz, considered it but decided that rather than prevent or cure they would choose to avoid: vacation in Cancun, who cares if it would be a grossly unethical dereliction of duty for even the most junior public servant, his proverb of choice evidently “out of sight, out of mind.”
More practically speaking, though the extremely atypical weather was figuratively, for the sake of discussion, an 'act of God' (*cough* decades of carbon emissions), the damage and suffering it immediately caused was tragically man-made, preventable but for the callous greed of the elected officials charged with the well-being of the state. In short, nature created the storm but irresponsible leadership made it a disaster.
The burden lies on all those responsible for choosing to disassociate the Texas power grid from the federal grids, without ensuring sufficient redundancy. But as usual these politicians -- instead of taking responsibility for their poor decisions-- choose to deflect. Blame anyone else, anything else, ideally aiming for an entity with a bad PR department or that makes you read relatable. They blame ERCOT for the power failures; they blame God for the record breaking freezing weather; Ted Cruz has even blamed his daughters for strong-arming him to take the trip to Cancun.
Mind you, I don’t normally believe in finger-pointing in the time of crisis; I tend towards solutions. When people are dying we need to first and foremost stem the bleeding before discussing blame. In this case however I am making an exception. This is personal. These officials have put the lives of my grand-children, daughter, and son-in-law in harm’s way. Of course all crises put someone’s family at risk, but when it’s your own, some primitive part of you wants to see retribution. So while my ire is hot, it is imperative that these unreliable politicians be held accountable. The pound of cure notwithstanding, our ounce of prevention begins by administering appropriate blame. Governor Greg Abbott says he is taking responsibility in so far as investigating ERCOT. Talk about shutting the barn door after the cattle have fled.
The MO of the modern day politician. Never admit your mistake, but rather deputize yourself responsible for seeking out the perpetrators. What better way to blame someone else (usually someone you don’t like, thereby killing two birds with one stone) than to be in charge of issuing the blame? Find a fallguy, punish and disgrace, declare victory, and ride your ‘success’ to re-election.
That being said, rather than further litigate the guilt or innocence of these politicians, I have a simpler approach. Same approach that you would apply to any employee or contractor. Ask yourself, did this guy do the job he was hired to do? In their case, did they protect you, did they manage your public domain with decency and to its benefit? If the answer is no. We would simply fire them. The decision should be equally simple for the people of Texas regarding their Governor, Senators, and any other public servants found wanting.
While we are on this topic, let me make another observation about contemporary politics, both in the US and abroad. For whatever reason, elected officials seem to have the attitude that they are doing the people who elected them a favor, rather than an attitude consistent with the truth: they are working at their constituency’s behest and pleasure. Of course I am not naïve enough to believe that most powerful politicians ever really thought of themselves as servants, but somehow I find myself harkening back to a time when officials at least pretended to perform some duties for the benefit of the people. I’d have thought that the most recent US election would have put such abusive politicians on notice that the majority of the voting population are wise to their shenanigans, but somehow the abuse has become all the more brazen and extreme. The political rift grows, and as long as you are better than the demon across the aisle, your party will never abandon you.
But we’ve seen what this yields. Tragedy and crisis. The house is on fire, and the stockpiles of cure are waning. Political accountability is a step in the direction of prevention, but while our mindset is regrettably fixated on vengeance the cycle perpetuates and the same ill-suited captains steer the ship.
The new generation is developing immunity to such biases: working against social-constructions and labels have mitigated some in-fighting. They realize, as in the case of the Vietnam war, that many of these conflicts are artificially created to serve certain agendas. In today’s globally connected world, “none of your business is no longer applicable”. Everything that happens anywhere is every one’s business, as every action we take has global consequences.
Therefore, I have made it my mission to change the mindset of the future generations to the following:
“While Competition is a good way to succeed for a Few, Collaboration is a better way to succeed for the Many”.
Competition is the cure that comes naturally, collaboration is the ounce of prevention we need. Not only do I believe this whole-heartedly I also live it on a daily basis and make it the foundation of every decision I make and everything I do.
Thank you again for reading.
Posted on March 06 , 2021
Lessons from COVID-19 Part 3
Thank you to all the people who have sent me their good wishes following my Februry 1st and subsequent blogs, which further reaffirms the...Read More
Posted on March 31 , 2021
Lessons from COVID-19 Part 5
Lessons From COVID-19 - Part 5 The most common feedback I’ve received from these blogs has been - while these lessons are informative in the...Read More