I wouldn’t wish it on anyone

I was on the phone with my sister the other day and we were discussing the path and ramifications of Tropical Storm (soon-to-be Hurricane) Isaac.

Based on the newest track, it appeared the storm would veer off into the gulf on the west side of the state (Florida, for all you late-comers to the blog).  While relieved, I was shaken by the realization that my desire for self-preservation was, if not cowardly, certainly selfish, as missing us meant hitting someone else.

It’s an undeniable part of our survival instinct that we hope strongly against bad things happening to us, especially those that might hurt us or our loved ones.  In most cases, we have no inkling of what is to come and are thus blameless in our fervent, if unfocused wishes.

A hurricane is unique among natural disasters.  It plods along an often-times crooked path, leaving days, sometimes weeks, of fretting and guessing among millions of potential victims.  Advancements in tracking have aided the predictive nature of forecasting the storms’ direction, but in contradictory fashion, offers the dreaded “forecast cone”, amping up the hysteria as people look to see if they are “within the cone”.

Sitting here in South Florida, we have spent years wishing the storms to miss us.  Go west, go east, just go away.  We eagerly hope that the beleaguered land masses of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba, with their mountainous terrain, will weaken the storms or even break them up.  Of course, that means those people will get hit repeatedly by the storms, but, hey, we’ll cut them a check later.

If the storm is predicted to get past them and likely strengthen in the warm Gulf of Mexico waters, we put our collective mental powers to the task of pushing it away from our peninsula.  Of course, that means the people in Mexico or Texas or Louisiana or Mississippi or the Carolinas (on the east side) will get hit repeatedly, but, hey, bring out the checkbook again.

I can’t say I would want a storm to hit us just to spare all those other unfortunate people.  I’m just not that self-sacrificing (and who am I to speak for the other 3 million down here?).  I certainly don’t wish the storm would hit them.  I wish it wouldn’t need to pummel Hispaniola or flood the gulf states.  I just wish they would float out to sea or dissipate.

I don’t want a hurricane to hit us (again), but I don’t wish it on anyone else.