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Arctic Blast – Goodness in Adversity

Posted on Thursday, February 9, 2023
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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Nothing like a blast of arctic air to remind us what matters most, survival if you can and your fellow man. The past week was chilly, Maine at minus 18 on the thermometer, gusts to minus 50 in many places. Sometimes – arguably often – what matters most is right now, right here, not somewhere else.

As the freeze and arctic wind came on, a curious and uplifting sentiment circulated. Local businesses, churches, unsung charities, just neighbors caring about neighbors, asked after people, prepared with people, made last minute calls. Got heat? Got oil? Got propane? Got food? Got generator ready?

And on came the cold, rising wind, freight train tearing through the upper branches, sheets of white blowing off the ice covered lake, creaks in walls, floors, and suddenly, unexpectedly drafty doors. But still the word was out. If you lose power, call. If you need blankets, a hand, ride, or start, call.

As politicians talked, shows squawked, headlines ran, and elites dealt in flattery, ordinary people checked their furnaces and baseboards, water heaters, pellet and wood stoves, sealed cracks, latched windows, got on with the labor, and worried for their neighbors.

Sometimes an event close to home – not a new affront on our identity, culture, or values, misstep, claptrap, or dishonesty by a buffoon, not even the next Chinese balloon – takes precedence. And sometimes that is okay, not so bad, turns us toward each other again, away from being mad.

In these parts, just another slice of what you might call Heartland America, the latest arctic snap – not unlike those of our youth, if hyped more – did that. People stopped to check in on friends, big families, those alone and elderly, making sure what they could do they did and what might be needed was ready.

Of course, throughout a year, we do this a lot, whenever barometric pressure falls, weather or worry set in, concern over the health and welfare, safety and security of others triumphs over political preoccupations – but it is nice, in a curious, old fashioned, reaffirming way to see what matters rise, kindness on the floodtide, and the rest of the world’s gobbledygook set aside.

In truth, there is nothing profound or stunning about this, any more than getting kids ready for school, assuring older parents are appreciated, reaching out to a friend with an overdue call, attending a wedding, shower, or memorial, offering an impromptu lesson, suggestion, or honest tutorial. 

These are just things ordinary people do, sometimes with preparation, others on the fly, prompted by weather, worry, hope, or gratitude, suddenly or (what we used to say) “by and by.” The point – the only point worth taking, pocketing for a moment when you need it is this: America is more the same, more constant, more steady and ready for getting on with life than we often know or acknowledge, quick to assure survival as we can, and look in with empathy, kindness, or just compassion on our fellow man.

So, the media’s talking heads, preening political leaders, and all that noise we hear between real news and vital facts will rise again, wane and wax. Temperatures and arctic winds will subside, retreat, and fall. That is fine too, as long as we know – always recall – America’s real strength is in caring, which we do with focus, intensity, and labor in an arctic blast, for a neighbor. We may not think so, but sometimes in the odd, cold gust of winter wind, or sudden, frozen creak of a tree there is a kind of goodness, goodness in adversity.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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PaulE
PaulE
1 year ago

Yes adversity, no matter how brief, tends to refocus the mind on what really matters. It reminds us how easily our comfortable lifestyle can be negatively impacted.

Lieutenant Beale
Lieutenant Beale
1 year ago

A good neighbor is far more valuable than FEMA. (Think about that one for a while)
Moreover, a nod to PaulE’s comment below.

David Millikan
David Millikan
1 year ago

Excellent article.

johnh
johnh
1 year ago

Thank the Lord that the power did not go out during this period for millions of people. And did Joe Biden take notice of how important energy from fossil fuels is to this country ? And I did not hear Biden say anything in SOTU this week about protecting our power grids from terrorist acts & making the sub-stations more independent. My opinion, our national power grid is much more important that building a zillion chargers for electric vehicles by 2035.

Nick
Nick
1 year ago

And we all know that the cold was caused by global warming. And if you will just submit to more taxes and total government control the government will fix it for you!

JudyG46
JudyG46
1 year ago

When I was in school, growing up, our science classes told us that weather was cyclical and that we would probably have a very cold period in and for some time, then we would experience much warmer weather at other times. It was just ‘natural’. So, as the article said, we just lived with whatever it was and adjusted and adapted always taking care of one another and those in need.

We didn’t depend on the government to run/control our lives, we were perfectly capable of caring for ourselves, loved ones and neighbors. We merely waited for the services we paid for (electric, gas, etc.) to do their jobs when things happened and appreciated what they did,.

So many people today are a bunch of “whiny-hinys” and don’t seem to be able to make any sacrifices when necessary. They want everything to always be the way they want it to be, perfect. Spoiled. Sheesh!

Howard
Howard
1 year ago

Thank you, RBC, for another insightful commentary on what really matters. We do lose sight of that sometimes.

Susan Walker
Susan Walker
1 year ago

Thank you for another heartfelt commentary. You highlighted the importance of kindness, empathy, and compassion. We all should be focusing on making ourselves better with each and every day. Stay well RBC.

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