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These certainly are uncertain times as a result of the arrival of the coronavirus. They are dangerous, even deadly, times of inconvenience, loss, sacrifice and shattered dreams.
If you think about the sheer magnitude of how things have dramatically changed practically overnight, our way of life even just a few weeks ago seems luxurious, carefree – and distant.
This new reality is not welcome and will not be tolerated by the American people very long. Our patience is short and our willingness to surrender independence is minimal.
We know that liberties lost are rarely returned, so we need to be vigilant about what we are giving up, and adamant about having those cherished freedoms restored immediately after this crisis has passed.
Yet amidst it all, we have so much for which to be grateful.
For the blessing of living in America – a nation that values human life and is capable of handling this crisis from a medical perspective.
To be in an era where communication is instantaneous and readily available – to have access to guidelines and live updates that allow us to make informed decisions.
And to have technological advancements that allow many Americans to continue to work and learn, doing so remotely from home.
Yes, we need the intervention of government at this time, as well as the stalwart leadership our president and state governors are providing. But beyond that, we need each of us to step up and do our part.
We need to rise above partisan politics and rely on each other and the God in whom we as a nation trust. We need to not be defined by the crisis itself, but defined by our courage in facing it.
As a country, we have endured much and achieved even more. We are a can-do nation of workers and winners. We are a nation of faith, not fear – of hope, not helplessness.
We are a nation of patriots who won’t panic, but will pull together in communities of love and support and find a way to defeat this invisible foe together.
In his 1964 book “Occasions and Protests,” John Dos Passos wrote: “In times of change and danger when there is a quicksand of fear under men’s reasoning, a sense of continuity with generations gone before can stretch like a lifeline across the scary present and get us past that idiot delusion of the exceptional now that blocks good thinking.”
“That idiot delusion of the exceptional now” – the arrogance of believing that we are in the center of the world’s story throughout all of history. That it has never been so bad or scary or difficult or deadly as today. When we assume we are now at the epicenter of catastrophe, as Dos Passos says, it “blocks good thinking.” We should use the lifeline of history to help us embrace the scary present.
History always provides perspective and gives us context. As a nation and a world, we have experienced war and famine, plagues and floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, financial crises and more.
We endured 9/11 and events that have caused devastating loss of life and loss of confidence and morale. We survived a malaise that gave way to optimism and learned to believe in ourselves and our collective capacity anew.
And now, we as Americans will do what we have always done in crisis: rise to the occasion. We will accept inconvenience and change course in ways we are asked to. We will take care of our families, share with our neighbors, donate generously and help those in need. As we should.
Globally we are facing a faceless foe that has a name, but like an iceberg we are fast approaching, it has only now begun to reveal the dangerous tip of itself to the United States. We know we are on a head-on collision course, but have no idea how big and deep and wide and long “it” is.
Although the stature and strength of our foe are unknown, the collective power of our resolve and resilience as a nation is very well known. That should give us comfort in the days and weeks ahead.
Collectively we can – and will – face and defeat this enemy together.
We have survived crises before and will do so again. We are stronger than we realize and have overcome more than we even remember.
We crave a sense of normalcy and will fight to resume it as quickly as possible. We will soon return to our schools and gyms and shops and restaurants. We will once again leave a carton of eggs or a package of toilet paper on the store shelf for someone else, and perhaps will be more intentional about buying local products, made in America.
And we will proudly hang our flags again with a renewed sense of national pride. It’s what we do. We’re Americans.