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One big, happy family? Well that was quite the experience!

Last week may be one for the record books.  At least we hope so.  The perfect storm descended upon us in the metro Atlanta area consisting of conflicting weather predictions, a rapidly moving snow/ice storm, a collective, simultaneous public awakening and too many cars.

The result was Snowmaggedon.  The result was hundreds of thousands of motorists all trying to travel home at the exact same time.  The result was commutes normally 30 minutes to an hour taking four to fifteen hours, in some cases even longer.

What does this have to do with family law?  It has to do with families.  It has to do with relationships.  It has to do with how we react and interact with each other.  Last week provides a wonderful opportunity to look at where we were and what we did in the face of such odd adversity.  Last week informs us about us. And in my professional world of family law, you seldom get as good a circumstance as this one was to try to figure us all out.

In the height of the experience, we saw, we felt, we lived strangers helping strangers.  We were a people going out of our way to make a troubling circumstance better.  To the greatest extent, I think, we saw the best in our community.  We saw some of the brightest in humankind.

We should try to keep close in our memories the scenes of human kindness, of people offering donuts and hot coffee to stranded motorists, of people opening their homes to folks stuck out on the road, of people with highly appropriate transportation employing their transportation to transport people they never met, whose only occassion to bring them together was travelling the same space on the highway at the same time, one on foot and one in a four wheeler.

That was beautiful.

But that is not the whole of the story.  As we came out of our "emergency," we began to see another aspect to our natures.  In these same communities, local facebook pages went from extremely helpful posts on how each road fared for passibility and which child needed to get from school to home, into bouts of recrimination on whether some facebook poster was interested in children, or just interested in getting business back on line by opening schools too soon.  

The "crisis" spawned would be dictators who demanded that the public sacrifice and serve, even as they videoed their own children sledding down a still snowy hill. As we moved out of crisis mode, some people got back to bickering. 

In the Atlanta community at large, the blame game became writ large.  Was the Governor more interested in having his picture taken with Scarlett O'hara than overseeing the safety of the State?  Was Atlanta's mayor at fault for not broadcasting loud and constant that the city should immediately empty of all of those workers who don't live within the City?

I have little doubt that we all could have worked this situation better, the Governor and the Mayor included.  But as partisan as I can be at times, I have no doubt that the Governor and the Mayor and all the other Mayors and School Superintendents did their dead level best under the circumstances with the information presented to them.

But I identify this situation, not to blame or even excuse, not to make war nor seek peace, but to take note.  To take note of our very human circumstance. We face a crisis.  We come together.  We find joy.  We provide solace.  But when the crisis is over, it seems we seek drama.  

And that, my friends, is the family law connection.

If we are aware of this trait, we can anticipate it and spot it arising long before it has taken control.  We can watch it exist as the emotion to which we are inclined without allowing it to cloud our better judgment.  

We've got some problems to fix.  Okay, let's fix them.  But let's not have to use the habitual mechanism of recrimination and all that goes with it, to provide the energy to analyze, act and advance.

Michael Manely

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