Both as individuals and as nations we can sometimes be severely tested. As I wrote in the last post, this is the story of humankind, and it has been rough. Yet, we have never stopped learning, creating, maturing. And, yes, civilization has continued to advance.
As the present crisis evolves, and as we begin to think about the future we hope for, how do we think we might be changed?
I’m not asking a political question. I am asking a deeply personal question, and it turns on responsibility and perspective.
How will our lives look different to us? How will we view our responsibility for family and the community in which we live?
How will we prepare for the other crises that are already emerging over the horizon?
The tests that we face today are those of responsibility, the single most essential virtue and sign of maturity for a parent, a friend, a business owner, a citizen.
This crisis has impacted our lives in ways we could not have imagined. How will we respond?
Faced with uncertainty and anxiety, some of us are discovering things about ourselves we did not know or expect.
Each of us has been endowed with capacities that can remain latent and undiscovered until we are challenged by the unexpected.
It is when we face the pain of personal loss and defeat – or its’ potential – that we find strength in ourselves that we did not know we had.
Reaching the limits of endurance we expect to collapse, and then, mysteriously, we keep on going. Because we do what must be done.
The capacities I speak of are more than strength, mental or spiritual. They include perception, problem-solving, and insight into the confusion or needs of those around us.
In a crisis we can sometimes see aspects or qualities in circumstances that we had failed to see before. Perspective changes and new understandings emerge.
Please allow me to suggest several of the elements which together form the structure of the human world. There are three that I believe are of primary importance.
I will mention justice first. Justice is defined by the world of order and necessity that we are given in this universe. But the given structure of justice is often obscured by the confusion and egoism of human disorder and distrust.
And then there is the force of attraction that binds all things which by nature belong in relationship.
This is the force that keeps a family together despite untold injuries and failures, and provides the foundation of dependability in a community despite all difficulties and differences.
Some call this attraction love, but it is not an emotion. It is an elemental force born of belonging in this universe. It gives coherence to the structure of justice that we depend upon.
Finally, there is an intrinsic power that energizes the structural dynamics that give form to all things – and which ensures the integrity of our lives and keeps us going.
Believe what you will about the source and origin of these three forces, but their existence and necessity cannot be denied.
They are dependable and trustworthy even in the darkest night; even in the shadow of dishonor, sickness and death.
And they can become apparent to each of us.
The reality into which we have been born in this world has an unassailable structure formed of the union of love, power and justice.
This is the foundation upon which our values remain steadfast, allowing us a measure of assurance within ourselves – even when the ground feels like it is moving beneath our feet.
Be strong, my friends. Stay loyal to one another despite the disappointments, the failures and loss, because the truth of our lives is deeper and more essential than all the rest.
You may watch for the next post on or about May 20.
Note for new readers: A project description, an introduction to the coming book, and several chapters in draft can be found at the top of the homepage.