A Short Note on a Difficult Day...
Dear Steady Community,
I promise this note will not be too long. I've already sent you an email this morning and I suspect many of you have already read enough today.
But I also know that this has been a tough day of news, on top of many other tough days. And part of what we are trying to accomplish with Steady is to provide context and comfort through the community we are building.
The rise of the omicron variant spins us backwards, with uncertainty and disorientation. The announcements and recriminations over Senator Manchin make our already precarious democracy feel all the more unstable. And that's just the headlines of the moment.
I won't delve into the specifics of either of these news stories now. Many who know the details better than I are providing ample reporting, commentary, and analysis.
Rather, what I hope to say is, as much as possible, do not allow these setbacks lead to a deeper despair. I don't say that to minimize the challenges. They are real, urgent, and grave. But I also know that consuming news cycles by the nanosecond can distort the broader picture. It’s as if we are succumbing to a final score when a lot of the game remains to be played.
Do we just give up? Where would we be if those before us wilted before the odds? We revere those who persevered. They are our heroes of history, and for good reason. Let us seek in their legacy our own strength. Millions today are choosing action, which is the ultimate antidote to despair. I see all of you who are fighting for our democracy, devoting yourselves to our public health, and organizing for racial, economic, and environmental justice.
Many have asked of late how I am able to keep my optimism. Part of it is by experience. I have lived through and reported on many dark chapters of human history, very dark chapters. And I have seen how light not only can come from darkness, but it often arises in ways that are completely unpredictable. Surprises in life aren't always bad. They can be darn near miraculous too.
It is especially incumbent on those of us of privilege to not choose a path of hopelessness or disengagement. Think of those who have no choice but to fight daily just to live, or live in dignity.
I recognize that proclamations of hope can sometimes descend into pollyannaish banalities. But I also contend that to choose cynicism is itself an abdication of our responsibilities to our communities and to future generations.
Another reason why I am able to retain my optimism is that I see no other option. Time and again, those who have been able to keep the embers of hope alive have often, eventually, used that faint fire to light the fuses that have changed our world for the better.
Progress is never easy. It is marked by journeys that include disappointment and failure - steps backwards as well as forward. But if you believe that you are trying to improve the human condition and the security and safety of our planet, that’s a pretty strong motivation to continue. Look around and you will see allies, scores of allies around the globe. In their energy we can find the strength and the determination to keep marching forward.
Note: We are opening the comments section to all readers on this post. Please be constructive and kind during this difficult time. And as always, we are particularly interested in your feedback on Steady.
Fred Rogers, on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, was asked how to help a child faced with disaster. He said “Look for the helpers. There are always helpers.” And there are. Steady.
Between you and Heather Cox Richardson, I still have hope. Thank you sir.