Over the past couple of days, the northeast has been pounded by a blizzard. We've been hearing reports of mainly snowfall between 8 and 12 inches, although a few places have had more than that.

snow empathy

As strange as this might seem to the masses, it's hard for anyone living in my area to have much empathy for places that rarely get the kind of snow we regularly get here in the Syracuse area. We hear 12 inches and say "yeah, what's that?" At the beginning of this month we had 54 inches and 98 straight hours of snow, and the day after it ended our roads were clear and life seemed as normal as any other day.

We've had a lot of fun with this topic locally, and the truth is that other places aren't quite as equipped as we are for snow removal. I've read where some communities didn't even have their own plows; that will mess up snow removal, for sure. They don't have salt or sand to put down on the roads, or so little that it barely makes a difference.

Frankly, I'm a little surprised at that. Over the last few years, there has been nothing but talk about coastal snowstorms, ice storms, and many canceled flights. One would think that someone would have gotten the message by now that weather happens, and that these communities should be prepared in some fashion to at least have a fighting chance against inclement weather. I'm sure it was at least considered when they were putting their budgets together, yet for some reason they decided it wasn't important enough to prepare for something they knew could happen, if not this year then possibly the next.

At the same time, sometimes I wonder about the ability to empathize with others when things like this come up. We can get into the comparison mode and see something that doesn't bother us much troubling someone else a lot and wonder about their fortitude. Even though I've had some fun with this particular storm myself, I remember driving back from a meeting 9 years ago from Virginia through Maryland in an ice storm, and for much of it I was the only person on the road, driving very slowly and knowing I was on my own because there were no rescue vehicles that were going to come save me if something went wrong. Living where I do, I knew how to drive in the conditions I was dealing with, but it was still a very dangerous trek, one that, in retrospect, I shouldn't have even undertaken.

Our levels of empathy seem to be driven by our own circumstances, good or bad. If someone had a pet that passed away, we either feel for them because we can imagine that happening to us, or have no feeling whatsoever because, after all, it's "just a pet" and we don't have one. It might be a parent that's passed away and we feel the pain, or we don't because we never knew our parents all that well, or we have other problems to deal with instead of yours. Or it may be the accountability factor, such as someone getting arrested for DWI and we're smug because we don't drink and we know everyone knows the rules about drinking and driving.

There are indeed different levels of empathy, but there's only one level of accountability, and that's just to be accountable. If you were accountable and something bad happens anyway, and it was worse than could be imagined, you can bet that everyone will be on your side. If you weren't accountable, or ignored the obvious, you're probably going to suffer some type of derision. It happens to the best of us.

But if you're on the end where you have to decide how empathetic to be, one can only hope that you'll know when to show empathy and when you can have a little bit of fun at someone else's expense. As far as this blizzard goes... wusses. 😉