The Edmond Sun


May 24, 2013

Oklahomans unite in tragedy; set example for country

EDMOND — Whenever we witness the type of devastation wrought by this week’s killer tornado, we naturally struggle with a host of emotions. Those of us in the neighborhood battle to control our anxieties as we gather the information we can about the storm’s strength, location and direction. We experience dismay when we hear the threat above us has touched down and become a real physical menace to our friends, neighbors and loved ones. When the “all clear” sounds, we are thankful that the nightmare is over. When we realize our loved ones are all safe and sound, we rejoice.

We are crushed by early reports that 24 grade-school children died when they were trapped in their schoolhouse. We experienced a wave of relief when we learned this number was exaggerated.

As the magnitude of the destruction emerges, we sympathize with those whose homes were destroyed and we grieve intensely with those who will forever mark this as the day they lost someone they love. In the days that follow, many of us will try to put this catastrophe into a larger perspective. Nature’s ferocious capacities are facts of life for everyone who lives on this planet.

Consider, for example, that in China’s great flood of 1931, somewhere between 800,000 and four million people died. In the 1921-22 droughts in the Soviet Union, more than five million people were said to have starved. More than 1,700 people died in the United States as a result of the Pestigo wildfire of 1871. In 2005, more than 75,000 were killed or injured when an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale struck Pakistan. In 1970, as many as 500,000 died in the Bhola hurricane, in what is now Bangladesh. The 1918 flu epidemic killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide.

As for tornadoes, the deadliest outbreak in United States history took place on March 18, 1925, when at least one F-5 storm left the longest path and spent the longest time on the ground traveling through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. In its wake, almost 500 people were dead.

As we come to grips with our losses here in Oklahoma and reflect on the ravages of the past, we realize that our misfortunes, grave as they are, might have been a lot worse with a minor turn of the circumstantial dial. This is a realization that seems to permeate Oklahomans from the souls of their steadfast feet to the tops of their wonderfully stubborn heads. No matter how hard these people get hit, they never stay down long. They are not prone to trivialize their troubles, but they don’t spend a lot of time bellyaching about them either.

My pride in my fellow Oklahomans swells almost beyond my power to contain when I see them dig through the remains of their destroyed homes to save what they can so they can get busy rebuilding. I am humbled when I see them standing on the ruins of their community and offer prayers of thanksgiving. I’m inspired when I see them roll up their sleeves and rally all their strength, determination and energy to rescue, support and console their neighbors.

I recall talking to an aid worker who came to Oklahoma City to offer support after the Murrah Federal Building bombing. “Know what I love about Oklahoma?” she asked. “When I went to California to help with the Northridge earthquake, people lined the streets to sell us bottles of water. When we got to Oklahoma, people turned out by the hundreds to give us water and food and anything else we needed — and then they pitched in to lend a hand.”

Yes, I’m proud of my fellow citizens — I’m proud of Oklahomans. But my pride doesn’t stop here. Each time Oklahoma suffers some catastrophe, we are overwhelmed by an outpouring of love, affection, support and understanding from our fellow Americans. In the aftermath of this storm, you don’t hear much chatter about red state/blue state differences. You don’t see people apportioning their efforts depending on whether those suffering are conservatives or liberals. You don’t see people bypassing the ruins of a Republican home in order to favor those who lost a Democratic home.

Wouldn’t it be grand if we could bring the same sense of unity to the solutions of all of our pressing national problems? If there is a silver lining to catastrophes such as Oklahoma’s May 20 tornado it’s this: In the wake of this type of devastation, we realize we are all Americans. We’re all neighbors. When the chips are down, we can put our differences aside, join hands and rebuild. I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.

MIKE HINKLE is an Edmond resident and retired attorney.         

Text Only
  • Loosening constraints on campaign donations and spending doesn’t destroy democracy

    Campaign finance reformers are worried about the future. They contend that two Supreme Court rulings — the McCutcheon decision in March and the 2010 Citizens United decision — will magnify inequality in U.S. politics.
    In both cases, the court majority relaxed constraints on how money can be spent on or donated to political campaigns. By allowing more private money to flow to campaigns, the critics maintain, the court has allowed the rich an unfair advantage in shaping political outcomes and made “one dollar, one vote” (in one formulation) the measure of our corrupted democracy.
    This argument misses the mark for at least four reasons.

    April 23, 2014

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 23, 2014

  • Free trade on steroids: The threat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

    Many supporters of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade agreement are arguing that its fate rests on President Obama’s bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan this week. If Japan and the United States can sort out market access issues for agriculture and automobiles, the wisdom goes, this huge deal — in effect, a North American Free Trade Agreement on steroids — can at last be concluded.

    April 22, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 22, 2014

  • Chicago Tribune: If Walgreen Co. moves its HQ to Europe, blame Washington’s tax failure

    The Walgreen Co. drugstore chain got its start nearly a century ago in downstate Dixon, Ill., before moving its corporate headquarters to Chicago and eventually to north suburban Deerfield, Ill.
    Next stop? Could be Bern, Switzerland.
    A group of shareholders reportedly is pressuring the giant retail chain for a move to the land of cuckoo clocks. The reason: lower taxes. Much lower taxes.
    If Walgreen changes its legal domicile to Switzerland, where it recently acquired a stake in European drugstore chain Alliance Boots, the company could save big bucks on its corporate income-tax bill. The effective U.S. income-tax rate for Walgreen, according to analysts at Swiss Bank UBS: 37 percent. For Alliance Boots: about 20 percent.

    April 21, 2014

  • Sulphur a future major tourist destination?

    Greta Garbo says, “I want to be alone,” in the 1932 film “Grand Hotel.” That MGM film starred Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery and a young actress from Lawton named Joan Crawford. It told the stories of several different people who were staying at an exclusive hotel of that name in Berlin Germany.
    It was critically well received and it inspired more recent films such as “Gosford Park” and television shows such as “Downton Abbey” in that it detailed the relationship between powerful and wealthy people and those who served them. The film opened amidst much fanfare and it received the Oscar for best picture in the year of its release.

    April 21, 2014

  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

    A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

  • Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons

    One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”

    April 18, 2014

  • My best days are ones normal people take for granted

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
    “I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

    April 18, 2014

  • Instead of mothballing Navy ships, give them to our allies

    A bitter debate has raged in the Pentagon for several months about the wisdom of taking the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington out of service to save money. The Washington, at 24 years old a relatively young vessel, is due for a costly refit, a routine procedure that all of the 11 large carriers in service undergo regularly.

    April 18, 2014


Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

     View Results