A Brighter Light?

The covid-19 pandemic has sharpened minds. Much of the resulting thought has focused on survival and recovery – both physiological and economic, and at individual, institutional, and national levels. But the scale and magnitude of events are leading each of us into a season of deeper, more personal reflection.

Mary Glackin[1]recently circulated a set of such thoughts among a group of her friends. She later passed it along in an email. I asked (and received permission) to share it with LOTRW readers. Here it is, verbatim.

I write this post knowing I am much better off than most during this pandemic.  It is with good fortune that decisions made more than a year ago led me to be in FL vs. DC at this time.  The difference amounted to being able to go thru this event with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson vs. being alone in my apartment.  So, I know this has given me an edge on optimism.  I am extremely grateful.

However, I’ve been thinking about the good that has come out of this pandemic so far and that still to come. Will the light at the end of the tunnel be brighter in fact than when we entered?  I am choosing to think that it will even if it is just because we are more clear-eyed.  

First let me acknowledge the things that will contribute to the dimness at the end of the tunnel.  Foremost is the grief for the loss of life and impacts to health.  It is tragic. Also, we know we won’t burst out of this tunnel. It will be slow to get folks back to work, etc.  So, we all won’t be celebrating at a restaurant together anytime soon.  And, the economy will likely take years to recover.  Many small businesses will be gone despite efforts to save them.  And, — and this is the one I really hate because it is avoidable — there will continue to be strong efforts to divide people, the country and the world.  We can see in the news already the hunt to find and punish the ‘guilty’.  This includes the scientists and their models. Familiar to many in our community because they have honed their swords on climate models.  It will take a lot to overcome what I see are strong forces here – but those forces all existed before this pandemic.  The question really is how the pandemic might influence our response.  Please don’t take this to mean I’m not in favor of an assessment to learn from how we handled this experience; I very much am.

While there is much to worry about, I see things that are and will carry us through.  A crisis exposes the essence of who we really are. We have all had some time to reflect and many of us have taken action to help others beyond what we ordinarily do. I see so many acts of kindness every day.  I see people caring about folks they never met and praying for them. I see meals dropped off to family members.  I see people volunteering at food pantries putting their health at risk. I see musicians making the world sing, laugh and wonder. I believe that the number of people helping and willing to help far outstrips those that don’t care.  And that is no small thing.

This generous spirit is carrying us through.  As we get to the new normal, we need to recognize that collectively we will have done a great thing by ‘flattening the curve’ and avoiding unnecessary deaths, not breaking (for the most part) our healthcare system and workers.  If we can celebrate that the way we celebrated other major victories like WWII (and not get sucked into the hunt for the ‘guilty’) we will have a self-pride that I don’t think today’s citizens have ever had. And, we will know we can do amazing things.  That makes the sun shine for me. 

Thank you, Mary. Well said.

[1]Currently, Ms. Glackin is President of the American Meteorological Society. In years immediately prior, she had held leadership responsibilities at The Weather Company/IBM. You can learn more about her career in this LOTRW post from 2012.

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