By Richard J. Lenz
Perspective is everything, especially when your goal is wisdom. Try to describe your hand accurately when it is held half an inch from your face: you can’t. When you move it further away, it becomes much more obvious what you’ve been looking at.
When we gain perspective about this tough period we are all living through, I wonder what important lessons will we have gained? And what will we have lost?
There’s a very funny John Mulaney joke where he remarks how his boomer dad keeps going into a room to read about World War II — as if he was cramming for some World War II quiz show.
His father’s interest may relate to wanting to understand the most impactful event of the 20th Century, which not only produced immeasurable global destruction, suffering, and genocide but paradoxically also gave us the “Greatest Generation” and biggest economic boom in America. Those that lived through it, they ultimately shaped our values, ethics, and spirit for the next 60 years with incredible ingenuity, service, and humility.
Comparing this pandemic to “war” is not 100 percent accurate. However — as in wartime — our personal, family, and work lives are being hit with wrenching news as we all are trying to keep moving in a positive direction while making uncertain plans.
My hope and faith is that the American people, as in wartime, will bring our best selves to the task, and at the other end of this period there will be an awakening and reorientation that sets a positive course — and more good will eventually come from this bad.
Already, I am seeing evidence of this everywhere.
Perhaps we may have learned that much of what we thought was important is less so now. And what we took for granted is now quite precious: Big things like competent and honest government, a fully functioning economy, and feeling safe in public spaces. And smaller things like a child’s birthday party, a dinner with friends, and a hug from a loved one you can’t quite touch.