Faced with severe challenges and the haunting presence of fear and uncertainty, we turn to inner personal resources and reserves. Where do we find strength when a family is in need, when hopes and expectations suddenly vanish?
For many of us the questions that present themselves, perhaps late at night, in some way turn on character, emotional equilibrium, and for the fortunate, on religious grounding.
With the future thrown suddenly into turmoil, how can we respond – as parents, citizens, human beings? What kind of person are we? Clearly, courage is called for, but what does that really mean?
We are being tested: What is the best we can be?
Character, values and virtues all emerge more clearly, demonstrated as they always are through actions and behavior.
Words can come easily, but truth makes itself known in action.
I have some suggestions you might wish to reflect upon. Our world has been shaken and will likely be a different kind of place after the pandemic. But the world is not ending.
Human beings have often been tested severely. This is our history, and it has been rough. Yet, we have never stopped learning, creating, maturing.
And civilization has continued to advance.
Somehow injuries heal, mistakes are corrected, and human failures vanish behind us in the mists of time. Yes, as individuals we can fail. But others are always raised up in our place.
So, again, we are here and now: How do we wish to respond?
What will our needs and priorities be when we are able, once again, to engage directly with our neighbors? Will living with dependable neighbors seem more important now?
How can we ourselves become resourceful, trustworthy neighbors? Communities can improve safety and security in many ways. Are we willing?
What knowledge, skills and tools do our neighbors already possess? Electrical, plumbing, IT, security?
Communities can cooperate to grow food, of course, even in urban neighborhoods. And this is the time of year when the soil is turned and gardens are started.
In a world now dominated more than ever by the stresses of an integrated economy, of population growth and complexity, we can expect a future punctuated by unexpected crises.
Long-time readers of this blog know my concern that local community is the only place where we have the ability to address the needs that both dignity and survival require.
We can choose with our neighbors to rise above our differences, to share personal knowledge and skills, to collaborate in problem-solving. These are the basic building blocks with which the future will be built.
Community is the seat of civilization.
And, so it is that learning the lessons of cooperation, dependability, and trustworthiness will secure a richer, safer future.
Do we wish to live with neighbors we trust? Do we wish for neighbors who recognize and appreciate our own efforts to demonstrate trustworthiness?
If so, we will have to step forward and make it so.
Living with integrity, in my view, is to be committed to these things – expressed in our relationships with others who seek the same.
It is only in collaboration with others that we can build a future we can respect and believe in. It cannot be done in isolation. Every kind of isolation must come to an end.
Will the coronavirus pandemic awake us to the challenging potential of this waiting reward?
Or will it require a series of ever greater crises and even more terrible suffering for Americans to turn the corner?
There is no other way.
You may watch for the next post on or about May 6.
Note for new readers: A project description, introduction to the coming book, and several chapters in draft can be found linked at the top of the homepage.