As the greatest generation continues to ebb away from us, we confront the enemy of our time and it is silent, it is invisible, and it’s everywhere, but it is not undefeatable. Yes, many are falling victim, many paying the ultimate price, but so many are displaying courage and heroism simply by doing their everyday jobs. The doctors and nurses and medical staffs are nothing short of angelic in their determination and commitment. But so are the restaurant owners serving takeout and the delivery people getting it to our doors; the store owners coming in everyday and stocking their shelves; and, the people who make the city, state and federal government work. And by those, I mean our firefighters, police, sanitation workers, transit workers, and post office workers. And let’s not forget the Amazon, UPS and FedEx workers. They are making us all proud.
The role that the vast majority have to play is a relatively simple one: stay home, wash your hands, cover your mouth, go out for only essentials and maybe for a walk (away from everyone else). This part saves lives. This is not a New York City thing or a China thing, it’s a world thing, and hopefully it pulls us all together like nothing before. It’s all about buying time, flattening the curve, giving the scientists time to develop vaccines, antidotes, antibodies—the tools we need to fight this head on.
Some of our leaders are displaying terrific leadership skills, some not so much. But this is all new territory. Even FDR didn’t jump right in to help defeat the enemy in 1939 or 1940. But once he was in, he was all in. And I believe all our leaders, regardless of their political affiliation, are all in too and trying their best. Even the media seems to get it. They know that it is important not to instill fear, or to attack without purpose, and are trying to stay on message.
All the failed technology dot.coms from the early 2000s and the successes that grew out of that frenzied time period have come now to help keep us all connected. While the technology forced a mass dislocation of the job force, it also forced us all to accept the technology and re-invent ourselves. This has made us all appreciate the ability to use social media in positive, life affirming ways. It also gives us all an opportunity to reach out to friends and relatives we may not have been talking to and ask how they are doing.
Life will be different after this is all over, but that is always true. Some things will be different, not better, but I truly believe that most things will be different for the better. We will all be able to manage our time differently, using technology to do things smarter, and allow us all to spend time with those we love, and to do the things we really want to do. This will be a great reminder that we need to be careful, but that time is not indiscriminately given, and that we need to live our lives when the opportunity arises.
I don’t think it’s an accident that this episode happened during the holiest times of the year for at least two of the major world religions. Perhaps it’s also a reminder that we share the Earth with many, and that we should be good stewards and leave it better than we found it. There is no doubt that this changes everything, and everything will be different. But one thing is for sure, the human heart, the human spirit, love will not be defeated. This we learned at the feet of the greatest generation.
By Lou Pastina