Monday, September 7, 2015

What Would Gus D'Amato Do?

"Cus D'Amato, Boxing Icon" by Unknown - Steve Lott.
Licensed under FAL via Commons
The Marianas Variety had an interesting article the other day about a doctor who moved to the island and left the very next day. Although I find it surprising that a doctor, someone who has sworn an oath to help people, would flee a disaster area after only one day without even treating one person, I can understand the mixed feelings the guy must have felt. He isn't he only person to run away from the aftermath of typhoon Soudelor.  Rumors abound about people leaving the island permanently or closing up shop after the typhoon permanently. The Thai House Restaurant, for example, has lost its entire roof and the damage to the interior is substantial. I haven't been able to contact the owner and ask if it will be rebuilt or relocated, but no work is being done on it currently, which isn't a good sign. Gus D'Amato, the legendary boxing trainer, would always tell his fighters that the cowardly person and the courageous person feel the same feelings, the difference is how they handle those feelings. Or in other words, it isn't the problem, but your reaction to the problem. Would Gus quit the fight? Never.

Now to admit a painful truth... After the storm, I wanted to flee. I'm not ashamed or embarrassed to admit it. I'm human and I have human feelings and emotions. There have been days since that I have felt despair and frustration and thought to myself, "Tim, just leave this mess." But every time I collect myself and think about our teachers and students. What example would I set for them by fleeing? Our school is founded on six virtues: integrity, compassion, respect, perseverance, initiative, and scholarship. Does running away show perseverance? Integrity? Respect? Compassion? No. If I don't believe in our virtues, then who will? This is the exact time that leaders are needed; decisions must be made; plans implemented. Others need to be encouraged to continue in the face of adversity and you can't to that from the seat of an airplane as you leave. You need to be on the ground, in the foxholes with the troops. They need to see that survival and recovery are worth the effort. Besides, school has a normalizing tendency; it is a way to feel like things are getting back to a regular routine, even if the new normal is quite different than what we remember.

So I'm not ashamed to admit that I felt like fleeing, but I'm proud to admit that I have conquered that feeling and I continue to fight the good fight. I think Gus D'Amato would smile.