There are so many things to think about in the present moment of severe stress. Some of us are in the middle of a madly spreading virus, others are in places that are less compromised at this very moment. We all know people or about other people who are sick with COVID-19. The lucky ones have mild symptoms that are unpleasant and enervating. Others are less fortunate with serious debilitating conditions, sadly so many have died.
We are engaged, nearly non-stop, in discussions on how to cope with what is turning our lives upside down. Discussions in person or through social media and the press provide instructions for hygienic protection and advice on sustaining emotional and mental equilibrium. In times for which we are unprepared we share thoughts on how to care for children, parents, relatives, friends, and ourselves.
Building a viable, competent health care system based on social justice must be on the agenda. Regaining credibility in competence in government work is a necessity.
Amish Dave, a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow and brilliant doctor, has written passionately about the debilitating crush of fear that affects us all in varying degrees of intensity and confusion. There are so many different aspects of our lives—both personal and as part of our larger communities and societies. The pressures present in insidious multiple forms: our physical health and our societal health—our bodies and our political institutions. In this crisis they are inseparable.
Philip Roth wrote two dystopian novels set in the 1940s and 50s: The Plot Against America that depicts an American fascist government, fuelled by Antisemitism; and Nemisis about a summer camp waiting for a polio epidemic to invade its life. I read both years ago and easily confined the ominous thoughts to a fictional world. Today, the two themes have merged: a physical disease that kills or incapacitates and a political/cultural disease that can destroy a democracy.
Let me suggest that we have the capacity and responsibility to fight both and particularly the latter threat. We know what it looks like especially now given the current battle in the United States between health and sickness, truth and falsehoods, competence and conspiracies, science and certain religious beliefs, planning and deceptive improvisation, responsibilities of office and the self-serving corruption of power in the service of pernicious politics. It is now utterly clear that there is a battle among competing ways of governing today and for the future. Building a viable, competent health care system based on social justice must be on the agenda. Regaining credibility in competence in government work is a necessity. Clarity, I believe, gives strength. Hope is energizing. Engaging in common civic pursuit is emboldening. Voting is resistance. Resisting is what will restore our health.
Clarity, I believe, gives strength. Hope is energizing. Engaging in common civic pursuit is emboldening. Voting is resistance. Resisting is what will restore our health.
It is with the greatest sense of gratitude that I can share these thoughts with you in the Humanity in Action community. We never imagined, over the many years of working with you all and building our broad base, that we would need to activate the power of resistance on such a monumental scale. Let us draw strength from each other and the work that we do to restore health in our lives.
Wendell Berry: The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.