“When the gales of November came early,” Gordon Lightfoot sang in his famed 1976 song “The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald.” The lyrics recount the real-life story of a shipwreck on Lake Superior the year before. “With a crew and good captain well-seasoned,” the freighter was caught as “a wave broke over the railing.” The imperiled sailors battened down and prayed for deliverance. But the “old cook” reported to the men “at 7 p.m. a main hatchway caved in” and that their lives would soon end. Alas, he was right.
This month, the U.S. reported it highest inflation increase in nearly 41 years (before most people in this nation were born). The news follows similar data last month. Lightfoot may sing that a storm is brewing. Certainly, there are good and well-seasoned leaders working to avert as much pain as possible. Even so, there may be little to do at this point to stave off the inevitable looming crisis. Highly politicized “experts” from various camps are attributing blame and proscribing remedy, too often designed to protect themselves and their friends from responsibility and not do the right thing for the rest of us. Surely, some of us will suffer more than others, but few will escape entirely unscathed.
What is our responsibility, for our own care and that of others? What, if anything, are we doing to make ourselves ready for circumstance that is not fully within our control? Sure, we don’t like cutting back. We don’t like feeling restrained. With better warning, would the Fitzgerald have survived? Could the crew have done more? Like us today, if they knew the outcome, they surely would have made different choices. Are there enough warning signs for us to react? Is it time to batten down the hatches or, better, return to port?