To say that the time we are living in his surreal is an understatement but to say that they are historic is spot on. We are living in the middle of history. Big History.
The sort of history classes are framed around.
Sure, this era has been an historic one for a lot of reasons but this moment, THIS MOMENT, is the big stuff.
And it’s hard to see that, from the middle of it, hard to get the perspective to pull back, back, back and to see the big picture, but I don’t say it lightly that this is Big History.
Think back to when you were a kid and in a history class you maybe had a passing interest in but didn’t quite fully grasp.
Vietnam, for many of us, is the name of a war that happened just as we were being born but we don’t FEEL the heat from it.
Heck, September 11th, a day that changed the course of this nation’s future, was nearly twenty years ago.
We hear about history all the time but we don’t FEEL it.
We can’t FEEL World War 2, we can just learn about it and empathize.
We feel the warmth from it because the heat of those horrors can never be doused, but we didn’t live it.
We don’t fully understand it.
We are a race that needs stories to learn about the past so we can see our place in the future.
We need history to learn from that past to see what pitfalls may lay ahead.
We have to appreciate them because we can fall victim to the same things.
We can fall victim to the past because we don’t learn from it.
We are seeing that today.
But this history we are living, with the Covid-19 virus, this is the stuff that books will be written about, movies made about, classes created about.
This is history.
We are living in it.
We are its witnesses.
And as witnesses we need to record it for the future.
Things are just getting going with the Covid-19 epidemic in the United States but you can already see mistakes that have been made, heroic efforts that have been made, the hubris and ignorance of people, and the bitter truth of the reality of things.
It’s all here.
You look on the news and see people in power saying one thing and then reversing course the next moment when they get better intel.
You are seeing school districts retooling their bus fleet to deliver needed meals to kids.
You are seeing businesses close.
You are seeing people put out of work.
You are seeing people insisting this is a conspiracy.
You are seeing people who refuse to stop living their lives and thus putting everyone around them at peril.
And there is lightness here.
There is hope.
There are people sharing music, and art, and love with the world.
There are people sharing stories with the world.
We are opening to one another not for fame but for connection.
Bear witness to all of it.
And record it.
To me, this is one of those times as a parent, let alone non-parent, where you can teach your kids to tell their story.
Teach them to record this history.
This is a time for diaries.
A time for podcasts.
A time for videos.
This is a time for the story of this moment to be told.
Everyone’s experience is different.
One day there will be a book compiling dozens of anecdotes and stories of this very moment in history together to pass that knowledge forward.
Why does The Diary of Anne Frank have so much power?
Because it is the diary of a girl that was just becoming a young woman. A young woman full of hope, of dreams, and full of the future.
Then the war comes and slowly her life is pulled inside out and you bear witness to it all up until the final, heart wrenching coda of the knowledge that she became just another number in a book.
But she isn’t.
Not to us.
Not to those of us that bore witness.
We need to speak to the future to tell them what it was like going to the grocery story and not being able to buy bread, or meat, or cleaning supplies, or water, or toilet paper.
In a city like Flint, where we still don’t trust the water we come to the harsh reality that – if there’s no water to buy, what do we drink?
Is the water safe(r) to drink?
But do you want to bet your children’s and family’s life on that?
There are people who suddenly have no job and thus no income.
But the creditors will still want their money.
So what do they do?
Sure, a stimulus can help, for a moment, but not for months at a time, which is what we are facing.
Events are cancelled.
Schools are cancelled.
Moments are cancelled.
This is the new reality.
A reality where we see our daily pollution fading as we bunker away.
A reality where family’s are teaching their kids again and learning what it means to be a family once more, good and bad.
This isn’t a time for snarky memes and snotty retorts.
This is a time to take it all in, to bear witness and to pass this moment forward.
There was such hope at the turning of the year into 2020 but weeks later this modern plague began to spread and now we are fully in its grip.
It’s hard to fully grasp what comes next.
Until a celebrity dies, until a close loved one dies, until we get sick, this will all remain surreal.
This will all remain ‘just another cold’.
But the day is coming when someone we recognize and know from their fame or infamy will die from this.
There is a time coming when someone we love will die.
There is a time coming when some of us will get sick.
Pass it forward.
This is history.
And if we teach our kids to respect it, and to tell THEIR story then we teach them the value of history and the value of their place in it.
Pretty powerful lessons.
And in this historic time, we all need to appreciate that we are witnesses to something that none of us fully comprehend and which will take many years to fully digest.
This is history.
Pass it forward.