Hurricane Ian Reminds Us of All That is Good

Published: September 30, 2022

By Jim Lichtman
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Attending a Padres/Dodgers game in San Diego, I’m sitting next to a die-hard Padres fan. Despite my lifelong Dodger fever, we shared laughs, baseball stories and favorite teams: he loved the Yankees; I loved the Red Sox.

What makes baseball so compelling is that while both sides want to win, they play on the same field, follow the same rules, respect the other team with an outcome determined by skill, teamwork, and a little luck.

Watching Field of Dreams the other night opened my eyes to a few other observations. In the film, Iowa farmer, Ray Kinsella plows under a large section of his crop to build a baseball field at the behest of a mysterious voice. Kinsella is searching for something but isn’t quite aware of exactly what that is until late in the film.

The film is about hope. It’s about longing for something or someone we lost, or the expectation we have for something we wish to have happen. Kinsella discovers that baseball connected him to his father.

But the film has a moment that transcends the story. The field and the farm are due to be foreclosed on by a group of investors. He is a moment away from signing away his life’s work until Terrence Mann—a disaffected writer from the ‘60s who rediscovered his passion in life through Ray—convinces him that all will be well, that people will pay to visit the field to revitalize their memories and renew their dreams.

“They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past,” Mann tells Ray. “And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters.

“America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.”

My Padres friend has been a fan of the ballclub because he was born and grew up in San Diego, and he remembered going to games with his father. I shared my memory of going to a Yankees double-header with my dad.

After the game, we went our separate ways, but we both enjoyed that shared moment of the past and the present.

Now here’s the important part.

In the middle of a monster hurricane whose devastation of Florida is unprecedented, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis and President Joe Biden shared a phone call.

“I made it clear to the governor and the mayors,” Biden later said at press conference, “that the federal government is ready to help in every single way possible. We’ll be there every step of the way.”

Despite many, many political differences, DeSantis was grateful for the support.

“It’s my sense the administration wants to help,” DeSantis said Tuesday night on Fox News. “They realize this is a very significant storm.”

Teamwork only seems to matter during extreme crises.

After Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie hugged President Obama for his immediate response and support.

Christie was criticized for the photo moment with a Democratic president, and his words of praise for Obama likely hurt his standing with Republicans.

But Christie never apologized for the act.

“I was doing my job,” he said. “The president came to offer help. If they expected me to play politics and dump on the president, I wasn’t going to do it.”

Christie noted that Obama’s visit opened the door to a much-improved relationship between New Jerseys state officials and the federal government which was crucial in the long recovery that followed.

They shared a crisis. They communicated and supported one another. They worked as a team.

America is in the midst of multiple crises, most critical is the lack of faith by half the country towards government officials who have been elected to work together and get things done on behalf of all of us. However, a bitter, enduring partisanship keeps them from fulfilling their obligation.

Rebuilding the devastation in Florida will not happen overnight and neither will the lack of trust and confidence people have in elected officials. Watching fire, police, medical support, liberal and conservative citizens all working together as a team reminds us of all that once was good, and can be again.


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