I have begun acknowledging to family, friends and colleagues that the impacts of the pandemic and the devastation it has unleashed are starting to get to me. I am incredibly fortunate: I can work from home, and our business is doing well; my family members are mostly able to work from home and are following the rules for keeping safe. Even my 88-year-old parents are doing ‘ok’: they are living in their own home, venturing out very selectively and always with masks and Purell. Maybe that is what is getting to me: we’re doing what we’re supposed to do, but nothing is really improving. There are people who don’t have the choices I have: front-line workers, drivers and warehouse employees have been deemed ‘essential,’ a euphemism for putting them at risk…and the rest of us can’t seem to deliver on the task of eliminating the dangers we face.
So I’m starting to reach into history for inspiration – I wish I could say I have confidence in our contemporary leaders to oversee this debacle, but I cannot, so to heroic, inspirational stories of the past I have gone.
On being Americans:
“Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected from us. We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither. We have become a great nation, forced by the fact of its greatness into relations with the other nations of the earth, and we must behave as to be seen as a people with such responsibilities.” – Theodore Roosevelt
“Never give in. Never, never, never.” – Winston Churchill
On the potential of science:
“The saddest aspect of life right now is that we gather knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” – Isaac Asimov
“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not be able to solve all the world’s problems at once. But don’t underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own.” – Michelle Obama
On tackling the seemingly impossible:
“When everything seems to be against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford
On lessons from nature:
“Nature is designed as an interdependent network. Nature is filled with relationships that define the dynamics, possibilities and constraints of the ecosystem. In nature, we understand the system through the lens of relationships. If we just looked at individual plants or trees, we would miss how they are connected and therefore would ignore the ‘unseen.’” – Kathleen Allen
On systemic racism:
“Why are all the angels white? Why ain’t there no black angels?” – Mohammad Ali
On shared fate:
“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.” – Anne Frank
Keep faith in whatever and whoever gives meaning to you and those you love. History can teach us a great deal about human potential – both for evil and for good. Strive for progress that lifts us all. Peace.