Updated: Jun 11
Another spin around the sun.
I am forty-one years old today.
Like all of us I wasn’t expecting to spend 2020 under quarantine. Isolated. Alone. Unable to visit my kids. Unable to start new relationships. Unable to travel.
I’ve never been an overly outgoing person. But I miss having the option of leaving the house without much care. I miss sitting at a bar, half reading, half listening to the idle conversations of others. I miss working out at the gym. I miss seeing friends and family without the need of a screen between us.
We have a long way to go with COVID-19. It won’t be over next month. It won’t be over this year. And no matter how well we flatten the curve life may never be exactly the same again. Not for a long time at least.
But despite our grim reality, despite pandemic and the fools we must suffer through it, I’m grateful for what I have and I’m optimistic for the future.
In sickness things always get worse before they get better. While the loudest voices might scream conspiracy, most people are pulling together. They’re flooding the internet with good content, they’re making masks, they’re lifting spirits.
Things look bleak, but they will get better. Because we’ll do the one thing we’re good at, we’ll ban together and we’ll struggle through and we’ll emerge on the other side stronger and wiser than we were before.
Americans emerged out of the Civil War to a new sense of national identity and the emancipation of millions of human beings. Americans emerged out of the Great War and Spanish flu to universal suffrage and the birth of global consciousness. America emerged out of the Great Depression and Second World War to economic prosperity and a more progressive welfare state. Yes, there have been stumbles and retreats at every sign post, but for all the small steps back we somehow manage to make big leaps forward each time.
Big historic events like this one tend to spur seismic change, because they expose the rot in our foundation.
If the South hadn’t started the Civil War, slavery would have flourished for decades longer at cost of untold human suffering. If America hadn’t entered the Great War, democracy may have never flourished across Europe. And if we hadn’t fought in World War II, the forces of darkness may very well have destroyed the promise of the world to come.
I’m not saying it’s good that big bad things happen. I’m saying good things can be born out of calamity. I’m saying good things will come out of this too. It’s happening already.
Even the most radical progressive ideas and policies seem far less crazy or cost prohibitive than they did just three months ago. We’re starting to realize which jobs are actually essential, and which ones aren’t. And we’re relearning that we have a lot more that binds us than drives us apart.
As Winston Churchill (probably) said: “Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing…after they have exhausted all other possibilities.”
We’ve exhausted a lot of possibilities. And maybe we’re not done yet. But I think we’re getting closer to consensus. The backlash that began four years ago appears to finally be ebbing. Cracks are forming. There’s blood in the water and we’re ready to fight.
It’s always darkest before the dawn. And while I have no illusion that we might not see the light any time soon, I know today, with conviction, that things will be better on the other side.
All we need to do is hang in there and lean on each other, even if we have to do it apart.