America’s stormy weather paves a way for hope

Today’s news is full of photos and stories of tornadoes that ripped through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kentucky. At least 25 people have been killed and another round of storms was expected to hit Texas on Tuesday evening. CNN calls the weather this spring ‘spooky’.

It is not known whether the record-breaking reports of severe weather over Memorial Day weekend are a result of global warming, but after this spring that conclusion seems inevitable. According to CNN, there were 622 reports of severe weather between Wyoming and New Hampshire on Sunday alone. The previous record was 565 reports of severe weather in one day, which was on May 8, just three weeks ago.

CNN reports that 14 tornado emergencies have been declared so far this year, including five during the Memorial Day weekend alone. One tornado touched down in Oklahoma and stayed on the ground for an hour, causing destruction and devastation. Tornado emergencies are issued by the National Weather Service only when a storm threatens serious property damage and loss of life. On average, about 12 tornado emergencies occur each year. With 14 weather events already recorded, this year promises to be a record breaker when it comes to severe weather.

You can’t prepare for storms like tornadoes. They don’t announce themselves in advance. When severe thunderstorms roll in, tornadoes simply fall from the sky and start sucking up everything in their path. The funnel clouds that fall from thunderheads appear white at first and only darken from the debris in their rising vortices. These are terrible things to see. A friend and I were about a quarter mile north of a tornado in Ohio that was moving east, while I was biking across country to the west. They sound like a freight train. If you’re as close as we were, you can hear chunks of metal, wood and other debris from damaged buildings crashing together as they are swept away and then belched out by the storm.

President Biden has called the governors of each of the affected states and promised all the federal help they need. There’s no news yet on the call for federal help, but there are plenty of photos and news footage of local emergency responders and neighbors helping search damaged homes for survivors and collecting the storm’s debris. The Red Cross will move to affected areas and set up services, and if called upon, FEMA will establish a local headquarters where federal assistance can be requested and emergency assistance, including cash, can be provided.

The news every day is filled with stories about the serious partisan divisions in this country’s politics. The divisions extend from the differences between political parties to the differences between rural and urban areas of the country. Some states have begun to secede from the rest of the country by passing strict anti-abortion laws that have wiped out women’s reproductive rights. Threats to the rights of LGBTQ people are emerging in the same states that have banned abortion and moved to ban the teaching of the nation’s racial history. The divide between those now known as MAGA supporters and citizens who adhere to a centrist or liberal political view has been described as so great that it often seems as if they are speaking a different language. When it comes to the news the two sides consume, not only is the language different, but so is the information. Disinformation and the mass dissemination of lies have become an industry as big as the entertainment industry.

But when you watch the news during a severe weather season as bad as this spring, it’s clear that storms bring us together. Tornadoes and other major storms such as hurricanes do not distinguish between Democrats and Republicans. A disaster brings relief, not political division. Fire and emergency services do not ask your political party when they are called.

Matthew Yglesias has a good column on his “Slow Boring” Substack Monday, titled “Negativity (still) makes everyone miserable.” In the column, he points out trends that are actually much better than many people perceive them to be, including the homicide rate, which has dropped significantly. The number of deaths from car accidents has fallen for two years in a row; COVID deaths are down; life expectancy has increased; Global poverty has fallen significantly, even as the population has “grown,” according to figures Yglesias cited from Our World in Data.

I would add that while we have troops in harm’s way, and there have been deaths from individual attacks on U.S. troops in conflict zones around the world, we are not engaged in active shooter wars that steadily kill numbers of military personnel in the way that we do. cause casualties. Our misguided wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have done that for decades.

If your news diet consists mainly of domestic politics and scandals that affect both political parties – even if one party is bigger than the other – it’s easy to adopt an “all is lost” or “things will never get better” attitude. . Our political news is depressing. The challenges we face as a country divided against itself can seem overwhelming.

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But I’m here to tell you that all is not lost.

What we need as a people, and desperately as the Democratic Party, is a more positive attitude. The other political party is mired in the doom and gloom of their Maximum Leader, whose firehose of daily negativity, resentment and lies now defines the Republican Party. Those who regularly consume the steady diet of that man and his puppets in Congress and in the red states dominated by that party live in a universe of bottomless depression and anxiety.

I argue that most people don’t want to be depressed and angry all the time. They want to be proud of the country they live in. On this Memorial Day, as we expressed gratitude for the sacrifice of members of our military who gave their lives to defend our freedoms, it reminded us that we can be proud of them. At the same time, we are saddened for the sacrifice of their lives. As we recover from this weekend’s tornadoes and many more that are sure to come, we can be proud of the way communities are coming together to help those in need, regardless of their political leanings.

Some of us are Democrats, some of us are Republicans, and some of us are independents. We believe differently, we live different lives in different parts of the country, but ultimately the blood runs through all our veins and we share the same struggles brought upon us by illness, disasters and personal tragedies.

It’s important to remember that we have more in common than we often think. We can get through this. We can help each other when needed, as is happening across the country this Memorial Day weekend. We can vote. We can win. We have this.

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by Lucian Truscott

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