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Unlikely Gratitude

By March 20, 2020April 22nd, 2020No Comments

I’m very grateful in gen­eral for the rel­a­tively speedy responses by gov­ern­ment offi­cials — from the munic­ipal up through state and fed­eral — to the sit­u­a­tion that con­fronts us.

We may have been too slow. We may not have taken it seri­ously enough, early enough. We may have unwisely set­tled for half-mea­sures and kept to them for too long. We may have been appallingly unpre­pared. There are those who prob­ably deserve to shoulder blame for some of that, but now is not the time to gnash our teeth and wail over it, to salt one another’s wounds.

I think at times like these — and per­haps we’re simply too for­tu­nate to have almost no first­hand expe­ri­ence from which to draw — that our petty divi­sions and our uncom­pro­mising hos­tility to our polit­ical oppo­nents must be set aside.

We have too much time on our hands staring at these abom­inable screens — which have proved both an incred­ible help and a hor­rible hin­drance. Let’s not squander the time we have blithering on about the minutiæ of poli­cies which can never be perfect.

No one will be pleased by every­thing that has been decided or will be decided over the course of this crisis, but we can be silent and thankful for at least a moment that there is any bipar­tisan agree­ment at all for alle­vi­ating the worst indi­vidual and cor­po­rate out­comes of this state of emergency.

When all is said and done, whether we dis­agree with large-scale busi­ness bailouts and shoring up finan­cial mar­kets on the one hand or dis­agree with direct cash pay­ments to cit­i­zens on the other, this will be the single largest ini­tia­tive of gov­ern­ment in our life­times to secure the com­mon­weal. That alone, unteth­ered from motive, is no small thing.

It will not be per­fect. It is our respon­si­bility as cit­i­zens to supply what is wanting with our own efforts in our own com­mu­ni­ties. If sov­er­eignty is vested in us as the people col­lec­tively, if the com­mon­wealth is there­fore our sov­er­eign respon­si­bility, whether we are effec­tive in get­ting every­thing done through organs of gov­ern­ment or whether we must pursue it by pri­vate means, that respon­si­bility remains.

Let’s take a moment to breathe and set aside our polar­izing and alien­ating con­tempt for just a moment to take stock of that. Souls are souls and if this pan­demic reveals any­thing to us, let it be that all souls are sub­ject to the self­same suf­fering, frailty of flesh, whim of nature, force of unknowing, and shock of death. We all fear. We all hurt. We all grieve.