No one wants it, no one seeks it, but a crisis can help define who a person is, or in my case, remember a past crisis which brought me into adulthood.
Many go through the motions, but some never become the people they are to be until tested by a crisis.
Mine happened when I was around 20. We were on a WESTPAC enjoying a sun soaked New Years on Pattaya Beach Thailand.
Shore leave had just ended, and we were back in the open ocean, the ship wide speakers crackled, and the shriek of the boatswain mate’s whistle pierced an early morning quite. When the whistle went silent, a voice announced, “General quarters, general quarters, all hands to your battle stations.” Then the words you never want to hear. “THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
A few moments later, a voice rarely heard, The Old Man’s, came on. We were maneuvering into a position to render aid, it seemed Vietnam or Cambodia was making some threat to Thailand or something. (Remember at that time, the end of the Vietnam war was less than a decade old.) It was one of the many events that rarely, if ever, make the news.
Marines were assembled, landing craft put into position, harrier jump jets moved deck side and helicopters were at the ready.
Being in cryptology, we were isolated deep within the ship. Yet, we knew that we were all ready to work together to make sure all of us were going to go home, but if needed, we knew our fellow sailors were ready to sacrifice their lives for us, as we were for them.
Fear was replaced by readiness. Thankfully, nothing came of that particular event. Well something came of it, at that moment, I accepted and made peace with my own mortality, and for many years, that man led a good life.
Somewhere along the line, I can only speculate at the cause, he got lost and replaced by an embittered man, angry at the world. settling for a life he never wanted, following the rules which really matter very little.
When this epidemic started, I was concerned. After the president’s less than reassuring oval office address, I became worried. But, sometime between then and now, the training that was drilled into me nearly forty years ago came raging to the surface.
Fear was replaced by calm.
Worry replaced by preparedness.
Anxiety by just a bit of anger at the fact this should not have occurred.
Concern still exists, but it is accompanied by confidence in preparedness, and the peace I had once made with my own mortality has again returned.
When it comes to President Trump, like him, dislike him, love him or loathe him – he is the Commander In Chief. And for all his bluster and bombastic, bloviating bravado he is flanked by one of the foremost experts on infectious disease in the world. And whether it appears that way or not, he is listening.
Complaining does no good.
Blaming will not make this go away.
Taunting those who are suffering only makes you feel good.
It is time to come together. Look to your right and left, have the back of your fellow human being, and be hopeful that they have yours. There will be those who become ill. There will be those who sadly will be lost.
The crisis will end.
We will tend to our sick.
We will mourn our fallen.
In the aftermath, what will be left, what will be important, will be the persons we become.