Wow … it has been quite a year. As I sit here writing this on Sunday afternoon, January 10, one eye on the NFL playoffs, another eye on what is going down in D.C., I wonder where we are headed. To use Paul Simon’s phrase, we are clearly in an “uncertain hour.” It is uncertain for so many reasons.
Will the COVID vaccine prove effective enough to get us back to “normal” by the Fall? Or will some other variant come along that makes the vaccine less effective? Will you and I be able to see, and touch, and hold our loved ones during our holidays next year? Or will we still be relegated to minimal travel and the looming specter of possible contagion if we risk gathering?
Will the garish and even slightly obscene disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street continue? Or will things eventually reunite, and if so – how? A reunification demands that one of those streets fall and the other rise, and I, for one, am not in a position to know which way this will go, or when. This distortion has been a long time coming, and it may continue much longer than we could ever imagine.
And what of our Democracy? Will we find it in ourselves to pop out of our bubbles and try again, even hesitantly, to speak across the abyss to our fellow citizens? Or will it take even more violence – or maybe even worse, an EXTERNAL enemy — to reunite us? One might have thought a pandemic would be enough, but alas, it was not. It had little chance of doing so, given the lack of leadership we saw on the national level.
Yes, my friends, it is a very difficult and still very uncertain time. And as some of you know, I often find solace in historical reading. I’m particularly fond of reading about Great Britain during World War II. I’m not quite sure what draws me. Perhaps it is just that I gain courage and hope by reading about those who came through extremely difficult times; those who beat back the last wave of fascism as it strode across the globe. I’m currently reading a book called Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour. I was taken by a quote from John Gilbert Winant, who was named the British Ambassador by FDR in 1941. Winant arrived after the Battle of Britain and during The Blitz. In 1942, he was called upon to intercede during a coal minors’ strike. Winant equated the battle against fascism with the fight for social democracy. I feel moved to quote him here at length:
What we want is not complicated. We have enough technical knowledge and organizing ability … We have enough courage. We must put it to use. When war is done, the drive for tanks must become a drive for houses. The drive for food to prevent the enemy from starving us must become a drive for food to satisfy the needs of all people in all countries. The drive for manpower in war must become a drive for employment to make freedom from want a living reality. … We must always remember that it is the things of the spirit that in the end prevail. That caring counts. That where there is no vision, people perish. That hope and faith count, and that without charity there can be nothing good. That by daring to live dangerously, we are learning to live generously. And that by believing in the inherent goodness of [people], we may … ‘stride forward into the unknown with growing confidence.’
And so, with that, I invite us all to remember these words as we stride forward into 2021 and beyond. It is our honor at Chicory Wealth to be with you on this journey – to help guide and support you in this moment, and in all the moments yet to be, come what may.
Photo by Levi Bare of Unsplash