I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. –William Faulkner
It dawned on me one afternoon of continuous TV news and press briefings and covid-19 updates. While we were all coping with the quarantine normal, our prayers and thanks slowly and valiantly started coming out, everywhere.
After the silent tsunami of the virus, this tsunami of coping together started being seen in social media and TV commercials and news reports of thank you notes for those on the frontlines. There are now hashtags, cars honking for grandma’s birthday, video calls full of love and hope and thankfulness.
Some of us cry when we read what is happening in the front lines or scream at the TV when we hear no leadership coming from the White House. And some of us also worry, Still. A lot. We are apprehensive about what the new post phase 1 pandemic America will be.
One thing became clear—and this is what dawned on me that afternoon. We have not turned to our president to console us, to provide us with the spiritual strength to carry on, to inspire us to keep hope alive and move forward. And we have not expected it either.
And we have been ok with it—it was not an expectation that we carried with us. It is like we knew not to count on the first couple to be there for us in spirit. Let that sink in. Truly question yourself—whether a Trump supporter or not–did you expect it? Why not? That’s not the job of a president? Ha, ask that of Wilson or Churchill during WWII or Bush after 9/11!
And then I had to do a consciousness change and think: WWBD—what would Barbara do? WWOD—what would Obama do? WWMD—what would Michelle do? WWRD—what would Reagan do? What kind of conversation would any of the immediate first couples of the past 50 years have with the nation?
The fact of the matter is that there is no leadership of the heart there. (I can totally picture Marianne Williamson agreeing.) But it’s true. And we know this. It’s true not in an esoteric or hard-to-fathom way. It is as obvious as Lysol commercials warning us not to do what the president just intimated. It is as obvious as Pence not wearing a mask when visiting a hospital. It is as stark a reality as the complete absence of the first lady.
But we kind of expected it. Yea, we did. And many of us wonder how ridiculous or disingenuous it would sound if Trump all of a sudden expressed deep felt sympathy or an understanding of the gravity of the situation on the American soul and collective psyche.
So here we are, surviving and coming together despite the fact that there is an emotional wasteland residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He has not tamed our indomitable American spirit—it lives within us and with it we move forward.
So there is a longing, not just for quarantines to end or for people to be well and not suffering. There is a longing beyond the banal hope of normalcy. There is a longing to be led with fearlessness and kindness and inner strength; a longing rooted in our core by the founding mothers and fathers of this great republic. May the future smile on us and allow us to become whole again.