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Real Life Applications

February 15, 2011

I was going to write a more serious disaster comparison, but I just was not in the mood to get sad. This is a long shot and probably a far stretch, but here we go.


Let us take a moment to talk about disaster. It has a bad connotation, we do not like it, or its consequences because they are usually grave. Rebecca Solnit says that although disaster is bad, it still ends up bringing us closer together because we stop taking everything for granted and live on a need to need basis. She says that “disaster makes it clear that our interdependence is not only an inescapable fact but a fact worth celebrating”, and I couldn’t agree more. It may seem trivial, or stupid to most of you, but one of the more recent disasters in my life occurred in my hometown on July 8th, 2010, and I will assume that it affected all of the inhabitants of my thriving city (yes, joke). The disaster was one of heartbreak, and coined the name LeGone. Lebron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. Rude.


I love the piece “The Uses of Disaster” because it describes exactly the process that Cleveland went through after Lebron left. If you aren’t from Cleveland, which I hope and am certain that the majority of you are not, maybe you don’t understand the devastation that this event caused that night and that summer. Pre-disaster stage, Clevelanders were enjoying (or something of the sort) a typical summer night, chillin’ in the bars and watching ESPN, but there was bad forecast for that night…sort of like a weather report before a hurricane, the calm before the storm. We tried to avoid it, as shown here:


But, in the last minute of the unnecessarily long television special of Lebron talking about nothing, the disaster strikes.


Solnit explains that one well-known version of disaster reaction involves “a sort of Hobbesian true nature [that] emerges…and people trample one another to flee, or loot and pillage, or they haplessly await rescue…” Some Clevelanders ran through the streets, burning anything “Lebron”, pulling down street signs, starting fires, breaking windows, and etcetera. And while those people were doing that, the “haplessly await rescue” people (myself included), sat on the couch in their house and waited for Ashton to come on TV and tell us we got punk’d. That unfortunately didn’t happen…


After the disaster, we form a sense of community. Maybe Clevlanders have a bad upbringing, or maybe this is just a bad disaster comparison, but the way that we formed community was through bullying. There are youtube spoofs making fun of Lebron for being gay (feel free to youtube them but I won’t post the links because they are unbelievably inappropriate and offensive). Also, anytime he comes to Cleveland, or loses a game, everyone in Cleveland comes together to gang up on him, and that is a sense of community, it makes us feel good, and like Solnit said it would, brings us joy.


  1. noahgordon10 permalink
    February 16, 2011 8:19 AM

    The author makes an interesting connection here. Are bonding together and a shared hatred the same thing? When I think back to “Le Decision” only one response to his betrayal (well, betrayal and a smart career move) comes to mind. Here is what Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said after Mr. James left for Miami.

    “As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.
    This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment…
    …You have given so much and deserve so much more.
    In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:
    You can take it to the bank.
    Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.
    Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.
    This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.
    But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.”

    Gilbert had supposedly been Lebron’s biggest fan for years. When a young man decided he wanted to move his family to Miami to play with his friends, enjoy the beaches, and have a better chance of career success he verbally eviscerated him. Lebron’s years of fantastic service meant nothing to Gilbert. That tells you all you need to know about human nature.

  2. Stephan Sakhai permalink
    February 16, 2011 4:30 PM

    Great comparison! I really enjoyed reading the perspective of someone from Cleveland. Being an avid New York fan, I too felt saddened when Lebron decided to “take his talents to south beach.” (Though now most New Yorkers, myself included, don’t care anymore because we plan on getting Carmelo).

    It actually seems that the Lebron ordeal for someone from Cleveland is exactly the same thing (obviously not on such a great scale–but i suppose for some fans it was) as the disasters Solnit discusses. The aftermath of the disaster (Lebron leaving) led to the unison of Cleveland fan when Lebron returns. Though I was not there, the atmosphere at the first game Lebron returned to Cleveland was more intimidating then most playoff games. It truly amazed me how strong a community could come together to fight against the aftermath of a disaster (in this case Lebron).

    But really great comparison!!

  3. Jacob Saslow permalink
    February 16, 2011 4:33 PM

    After reading Solnit’s “Uses of Disaster” my thinking was the furthest away from LeBron and his fateful decision. However, I enjoyed the connection, and it put me in mind of my thriving city (also a joke) and how we banded together after the “Malace at the Palace,” when numerous Pacers players went into the stands, and the greatest brawl in NBA history took place in the home of the Detroit Pistons. However, I think sports are not a complete analogy for the disasters Solnit speaks of . Whereas a hurricane or terrorist attack leads to deaths and unimaginable destruction, sports create emotion distress and pain. This isn’t to say that the comparison isn’t useful, as I would argue that its differing effects make it more valuable. Well done, creating an entirely new way of looking at the reading.

  4. February 16, 2011 5:05 PM

    I think Hobbes would be proud of those Cav fans you speak of. They like to show lots of anger and do everything they want, in retaliation of “The Decision.” I also believe that the Pistons-Pacers brawl would be an accurate description. As Ron Artest and Jermaine O’Neal went Muhammad Ali on the fans in the Palace, they were acting out of pure instinct and anger. (not completely acceptable in the NBA, or todays world) but Hobbes would completely agree with them. Most likely he would be out there throwing a few punches too. The NBA always seems to be a great comparison to our readings, and I look forward to reading more along the same lines.

  5. Christina Beckman permalink
    February 19, 2011 3:06 PM

    I don’t necessarily think Hobbes had this particular scenario in mind when he wrote his theories on the state-of-nature, but it’s a good analogy all the same.

    P.S. Lebron James: Quit-ness.

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