Sunday, April 12, 2020, CBS Sunday Morning explored this question, What Kind of Leadership Does Our Nation Need?
…there are a few things I hope you take away from my intrusion into your life!
Please don’t waste my visit while I am with you! Remember what Rahm Emanuel said?
“You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
First, I need you to put my presence in perspective. The greatest virus in the world right now is not me, it’s you, your behavior and your response! Your behavior and your response toward me is life-changing. You have each other in your hands. The question you should constantly be asking yourself, “Is my behavior life-enhancing or life-endangering?” The way you treat each other impacts how you think of me, deal with me and overcome me!
I hope you have stopped taking so many things in life for granted. Yes, I have disrupted life as you know it. I have put a stop to busyness! Busyness is so overrated and non-essential. I have disrupted some habits. Some of those habits were good. Some of those habits not so good. I know you are addicted to “screens” and my presence has deepened that addiction, but I hope you will see the need to connect with people face-to-face when I’m not around.
I hope you are taking time to breathe and recognize what is really important, beginning with relationships. I notice you have been reaching out to people with whom you have not connected in a long time! How does that feel? Why did it take my presence to create these interactions?
Remember when your parents told you to wash your hands before you ate and when you used the bathroom? I hope my presence has brought attention to why this simple exercise is vitally important.
Those people who welcome you into the restaurant, take your order, create your food and serve it to you; those people who deliver your mail and packages; those people who stock the shelves and check you out at the grocery store; and those people who pick up the trash; those housekeepers, janitors, and environmental service personnel; those taxi and Lyft drivers; … they make a difference in your life! They are important. They deserve your respect and appreciation! They need a liveable wage to serve you! They need healthcare. I hope you recognize healthcare is not a privilege or a benefit of your job but a right as a citizen not just of the United States but of planet earth!
Remember, I wasn’t a virus that started in the United States. I am a global epidemic. I know no borders or boundaries. No wall will keep me out! I’m like your smartphone. My components come from all over the world. I am globalization and it will take globalization to tame me!
Notice I don’t discriminate? I am inclusive and equitable in whom I touch. Your age, your social-economic status, your skin color, your politics, your religious beliefs, your physical ability, your fame … it does not matter to me. How about you? Are you inclusive? Do you practice equity? Do you live the Golden Rule?
While science is working hard to defeat me and overcome the nightmare I have created, I hope you will give science more credit for how it can positively impact your life. That dirty air you create, it harms the lungs as well as so many other things! You really ought to take it personally and recognize you do make a difference in other peoples’ lives, both positively and negatively. I suggest you think about this and consider making better choices.
I realize science and faith don’t always get a fair seat at the table. I am here to suggest you need to pay attention to both. I am here to remind you that uncertainty is a dominant force in the world. Both science and faith can help you deal with uncertainty. You need to work with each other and trust each other to deal with uncertainty. Anne Lamott said it best:
“The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns. Faith also means reaching deeply within, for the sense one was born with, the sense, for example, to go for a walk.”
Finally, while the United States cherishes individuality, materialism, and less government, those three cherishes are not going to help defeat me. You are going to have to come together, share resources, and create nurturing communities. Your greed is going to be your demise. Your lack of good governance for the people and by the people will be wishful thinking, just a poster on the wall. If you think life is miserable right now, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
Hope is a call for action! My hope is being tested. Is yours?
What gives me hope is the leadership from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. These leaders have been honest, transparent, responsive, and empathetic. They are communicating clearly and consistently. They do not sugar-coat the hard truths. They have created a vision out of this pandemic by naming priorities, calling on subject-matter experts for advice and following it, praising and thanking people for their hard, courageous work. They are not making promises they cannot keep. They are not worried about getting re-elected. They are worried about the here and now. They are focused on you and me. They inspire me to do and be better.
What gives me hope are the people we take for granted like the sanitation workers, the first responders, the grocery store employees, the postal service employees, and others who are on the frontline with the healthcare people, keeping society together while the rest of us work at home. They are making us rethink healthcare for all, the importance of a living wage, unemployment rights and labor rights as issues of ethics and integrity.
“Nobody looks good in their darkest hour. But it’s those hours that make us what we are.” – Karen Marie Moning
What gives me hope are people who are still wanting to get married and create a family during this pandemic. Love nurtures hope.
What gives me hope are people who are still planning to take that once in a lifetime trip, still planning to start their company, still planning to get their degree, still planning to write their book, still creating art, and still planning to play baseball! They see this pandemic as a speedbump to their plans and dreams.
What gives me hope are fight songs!
- Queen’s We Are the Champions
- Foo Fighters Foo in Cesena, Italy, with a 1,000 rockers playing Rebel, Rebel
- The Piano Guys version of This Is Your Fight Song
- The Angel City Chorale doing their version of Toto’s Africa
- Pentatonix’s version Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah
- Heart’s tribute to Led Zepplin at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2012 singing Stairway to Heaven
- Sara Bareilles’ Brave
- Playing for Change’s version of Stand By Me;
- and my ultimate go-to fight song is Melodysheep’s tribute to Robin Williams “Seize the Day.”
Finally, being an inclusive, ecumenical Christian working my way through the season of Lent, Easter gives me hope!
What gives you hope?
* Featured image: Ian Wilkinson and Ishmael updated the iconic mural in the River Arts District, Asheville, NC.