Remember that time that Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards were competing with Val Kilmer and some other actor to see who was the coolest 80s fighter pilot? In Top Gun, the characters played by Cruise and Edwards find their plane in a flat spin (the preferred recovery technique from which was a subject heavily debated one night when I was a legal intern at NTSB with a bunch of NTSB crash investigators during a rather energetic happy hour. But I digress.)
I was reminded of that scene last night when I pulled up Drudge to see what crises du jour were on tap. Apparently, President Obama remarked at a DNC fundraiser Tuesday that "There's a sense possibly that the world is spinning so fast and nobody is able to control it." Yeah. Like a flat spin in a F-14 Tomcat. Except we don't have Tom Cruise and Scientology to pull us out of it.
The news today isn't simply bleak (although news is, rarely, all positive...lest none of us tune in to watch or read it.) It reflects a complete disconnect of many assumptions we've made about the order of things for quite some time. Russian government-connected cyber attacks on JP Morgan. Ebola here, there, everywhere. Confusion as to which bracket we're supposed to be playing in Syria. Suggestions that ISIS is attempting to penetrate the southern border. Over 300 deaths in Ukraine since last month's cease fire. Pro-democracy unrest continues in Hong Kong.
It's no wonder, then, that the Maplecroft Civil Unrest Index shows that that risk for "disrupting business has risen in one-fifth of the world over the last quarter, with Hong Kong and Ebola-struck Liberia leading the way." This raises two important questions.
First, why didn't any of you people tell me that there's such a thing as a "Civil Unrest Index?"
Second, what on earth are you and I to do in response to these intense and seemingly unconnected stories?
I'll tell you what we're going to do:
- Put things in perspective. We've faced much more turbulent times in this nation and as a species than we are facing now. Odds are this isn't the end of the world.
- Be good citizens. Stay informed. Stay alert. Be prepared. Don't panic.
- Encourage others to do the same. Tell them to make some basic preparations and have a plan to shelter in place...for Ebola, a winter storm, a job loss. Your calm demeanor and willingness to help will make you an asset to your family and neighborhood.
Whatever ails us right now can be alleviated. While we encourage our leaders to make the tough but necessary choices to do so, we need to do our part at home. Executing the basics in preparedness - like executing the basics in piloting - will enable us to get things back on track.