Enough about politics for a short while. Sunday evening I watched the Democrat debate between former Vice-president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Socialist-VT). My only reaction was that these two light weights mouthed platitudes and grandiose assurances without the slightest idea as to how to implement them or what it zeewould cost to do so. It was depressing particularly in light of the pandemic facing us today – the corona virus and its consequences.
Every know-it-all in America has deemed themselves expert enough to weigh in on what should or should not be done. And so, being a know-it-all myself, I just as well weigh in too. But let me approach it from a different angle. A conversation with my son and my daughter reminded me of the crises that we have faced in just my lifetime.
I was born in the closing days of World War II. I was a child during the Korean War. I was a college student during the Vietnam War and the energy crises of 1970. I was a relative newlywed during the Watergate scandal and the resignation of President Richard Nixon. I was a young father during the economic recession of the early 80’s as I was trying to hold together a law practice after the sudden death of my senior partner. I had left the comfort of my hometown to move to Portland shortly before the stock market crash of 1987. I weathered the recession of the early 1990’s. I had just retired two months prior to the Islamic terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, and was isolated in northwest Montana as the nation shut down in fear of additional attacks. Shortly thereafter we weathered the SARS worldwide epidemic in 2002. I had just turned sixty-five during the Bush-Obama recession. And I am about to turn seventy-six in the midst of the corona pandemic and the resulting economic downturn.
There is nothing heroic about me weathering these crises. There is everything heroic about a nation of unselfish people who step forward to confront and conquer each new crisis. It isn’t always the same people. Sometimes it is soldiers, sailors and airmen. Sometimes it is doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers. Sometimes its business men and women ranging from the mainstreet barber to the chief executive officers of major businesses. And sometimes it is just you and me willing to lend a hand, help a neighbor or contribute time and/or money. But it always people who sense a greater need than themselves. People who refuse to succumb to the fear and tragedy of a crisis. People who say “we can” and then they do.
And routinely standing in their way are the politicians whining, carping and pointing fingers as they try to take political advantage of each new crisis. Those who are “in” become targets while those who are “out” demand actions that are already well under way. (There is always “safety” in demanding that which is already done.) They never talk about the ways or means of accomplishing their glittering generalities – because they are clueless about either.
And they are joined by the media – print and broadcast – who engage in endless and mindless speculation confusing an already difficult task with questions designed to entrap rather than to clarify. For the media, what is better than a crisis? Well, a crisis made larger by speculation. A crisis made deeper by criticizing early mistakes as if only fools would have made them. But if there was perfect knowledge it wouldn’t be a crisis, now would it?
In the end, a crisis is confronted by three groups of people: those who can and they do; those who cannot and they simply confuse; and all the rest of us who must sort through the weeds and chaff as we pray for a quick and effective solution. And when it is over – and it will be over sooner than later – please remember to thank those who “do.” And remember those who simply carped, whined and confused.
Along the way, you may want to stop and pray. Pray for those infected, pray for those who “can and do”, and pray for yourself that you have the courage and the strength to persevere. We are America and we have always persevered.