What if we embraced pandemic's silver linings?
At some point, this "new normal" is going to slowly but surely morph back into a normal that seems more normal than this current normal – follow me?
And while that path back to our normal lives is shrouded in cloudy uncertainty, it's hard for me not to wonder if getting back to normal is really and truly the best thing for us on some levels. Yes, I want restaurants to open, festivals to return, sports on TV and the chance to not have my face ringed by sweat after a mask-wearing excursion to the store.
But there's something very attractive at work right now, right in this moment, that I think sends a message, delivers a lesson, we would do well to pay heed to.
Sadly, we won't. Because if I've learned anything over the years about America, it's that while it is second to none in rising to the occasion in crises or disaster, the lessons from those events are often lost when things get back to "normal."
We don't remember and that's unfortunate.
So here's a hint - for all the talk of being in "this together," I'm here to tell you that we've always been in this thing called life together. Always. That it takes a disaster to remember that is strangely irritating.
When I look around at all the incredible kindness going on, the sacrifice and passion and care for fellow human beings in various stages of the COVID-19 crisis, I can't help but think that moments like this are our finest hours. It is clear that we are a better country, better people, when we care about our fellow man, when the better angels I've so often talked about are pushed forward and we truly become our brother's keeper.
I remember so clearly the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and the passionate voice so many in this country shouted with about not being divided, keeping our collective eyes on what's important and working together. I even remember Congress on the steps of the U.S. Capitol coming together to show their solidarity and the words of some of them about bipartisanship and working together for the good of America.
And we forgot all that. We forgot it all so very quickly and not only devolved into the self-absorbed soul that seems to dwell within us all, we actually seemed to get worse.
Yes, America and its residents are something special when there's crisis or disasters to be confronted, or when a pandemic suddenly shows up on our shores. We mobilize and we dive into helping those around us with a boundless passion that is something to behold. I'm seeing it now all over this area, all over the state and the nation – we are caring about one another, honoring those who deserve honor and helping out in ways that are both inspiring and humbling. We are, in a word, awesome.
I wish that were our normal. I wish that was who we were on a daily, weekly and yearly basis. But it's not and that saddens the hell out of me. I see the potential, the vast and mighty potential of us all when I see churches, organizations and simple local citizens rise up in so many unique and delightful ways to help a neighbor, nurse or needy take another step through a day that has more questions than answers at this point.
It is in times like these, when I see so much happening that brings a smile, a meal, a sense of hope and brotherhood that I'm reminded of one of my favorite lines from the movie "Excaliber."
"Look upon this moment. Savor it. Rejoice with great gladness. Remember it always, for you are joined by it. You are one, under the stars. Remember it well, then…this night, this great victory. For it is the doom of men that they forget," Merlin tells Arthur and the Knights after a hard-fought victory unites England. Are we not in the midst of a great fight right now?
I wonder as I see so much humanity being displayed by people, so much compassion and desire to make a difference in these tough times if we realize this is how we should be all the time, not just in the hard times? If we could possibly reconfigure our hearts, minds and souls to be this selfless and caring on a constant basis?
Seeing the work done by so many for their fellow man, I'm more convinced than ever that when we act this way, we are a better country for it. When we act for the benefit of others, we are the kind of nation we should be, not the one that has no sense of itself from top to bottom, racked by greed, avarice and the pursuit of gain and power. No, the COVID-19 pandemic has been an awful experience and one that will no doubt have an impact felt well into 2021. But within the pandemic storm, there are silver linings showing through the clouds.
Once again, we see what our true potential is. I wish we would embrace it, but I know that's not likely to happen. The doom of forgetfulness will, at some point, reattach itself to the hearts of men and women here. And we will once again be lessened by it.
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