At the helm: Pulling together

By David Gee

“Good and kind people outnumber all others by thousands to one.” Stephen Jay Gould, an American paleontologist and evolutionary biologist wrote that in a New York Times essay after 9/11. I was reminded of his words, and so many other things associated with that day and event, when we spent Labor Day weekend in New York City.

There were obvious reminders of the 20th Anniversary of 9/11, such as special events at the 9/11 Memorial Museum, where the Twin Towers once stood so tall. And then there were several smaller things we stumbled upon, such as a solemn procession of family members of the 343 FDNY firefighters who lost their lives that terrible day.

I was in the TV news business in 2001, but wasn’t at work yet when the events began unfolding. My wife called and said simply, “Turn on the news.” I did, and then immediately drove into work, and began aggregating and trying to make sense of all the information flowing into the newsroom at hyper speed.

In the days, weeks and even months that followed, many 9/11 stories took on a slightly different tone, as we covered some of the ways Americans responded with donations of time and money, volunteers to search through the rubble and so on.

That sense of pulling together in the wake of tragedy is what Stephen Jay Gould was pointing out in his essay. Gould calls it the “Great Asymmetry,” where “every spectacular incident of evil will be balanced by 10,000 acts of kindness.”

On the morning we were leaving Manhattan on Labor Day we ate breakfast in a small, but bustling café, on Greenwich Street, 30 blocks straight north of the World Trade Center. There was a little chalkboard near the hostess stand with a hand-scrawled message, “We’re short-staffed. Please be kind to those who showed up.”

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Be kind to those who show up. That short, simple sentence has gone through my head so many times this past couple of weeks. As our industry deals with product shortages, supply chain issues, and what feels like an interminable pandemic, we could all likely benefit from a little grace and kindness.

When I was interviewing the finalists for Boating Industry Mover & Shaker of the Year one of the common themes I heard from each one of them is how the success of the entire industry is dependent on us not only continuing to attract new boaters, but retaining them. Obviously, the best way to do that is by doing whatever we can to provide safe and pleasurable boating experiences. We can all play a part. So happy boating and be kind!

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