I assume you have been doing more thinking in the past two months than you probably have in the preceding two years. After all, you have had more time to think. So, what have you been thinking about? Has your life changed in any way? Will our lives change?
When you look at all of the crises that the United States has faced in the past like the Civil War, World War I, Great Depression, 9/11 and so on, we always have come out of these crises better than we were before the crisis. So from a positive standpoint, we should be confident that the United States will undergo a metamorphosis or a Phoenix bird rising from the ashes. Yes, I realize over 100,000 lives have been lost and for this reason it behooves us to make America a better place.
How can we be better as a result of this pandemic?
Maybe the pandemic experience will make us less materialistic, less greedy, less money conscious. Just as the Great Depression made our parents and grandparents more frugal, I hope the pandemic will do the same. We really have become a “toy” oriented society. Kids have toys, women have toys, and “wow,” do men have toys. Remember when kids used to get just one toy for Christmas? Maybe that’s the right attitude to take. We learned to do without.
Have you received more phone calls from friends or family than you normally receive? Maybe a note? I hope you have. Friends and family have become closer and neighbors too. I mentioned in my last column that we are sitting more because we aren’t in a rush to go to the movies or a restaurant or a party because there aren’t any. I hope we all learn to do more sitting. Maybe porch swings or benches would be a good investment for someone looking to start a new business.
How does your hair look? Are you on a waiting list to see your barber? I have been cutting my own hair and Kathy hasn’t even noticed. Is there a message here some place? I guess it’s what’s inside of your head that matters and not what’s on top or on the outside. That’s a good lesson.
I think most people have watched more movies and I hope read more books. I recommend Stephen King’s "Elevation.' It’s a short story and not scary like so many of his books. You will enjoy the ending. Reading teachers and media specialists should be happy.
Here’s a wish you can make. After 9/11 the United States experienced a surge of other countries coming to its aid. They wanted to give us their shoulders to lean on in our time of need. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe this is happening to the extent that it did then even though we have more deaths and more cases than any other country. There is much too much isolationism being promoted by our executive branch. It’s as if we don’t need help. As my father used to say, “Don’t let foolish pride get in the way of asking for help.” Maybe it’s time to ask for a few shoulders to lean on so we can again become a world of United Nations.
It’s amazing how individuals and groups on the local level have come to the assistance of others. Bemidji and the surrounding communities are more united than ever before. We realize that people need people. Now if we can only hang on to this attitude. We have some new people running for city council and mayor. “People helping people,” would be a good theme to campaign on.
Even our young people have had to make sacrifices. Will this have an impact on their lives? I can see in the future where today’s youth will be telling their children and grandchildren, “I remember during the great pandemic when we had to stay home, when we couldn’t participate in sports, when we couldn’t even attend our graduation or prom. You kids today are really lucky. I learned a lot from those hard times.”
It’s good to make sacrifices and I know our youth will learn from it. The pandemic has already shaped their lives and they will be better because of it. We may end up having the cleanest country in the world and fewer people catching colds.
Education will see dramatic change. I can see every school having a virtual classroom. I can see every school doing more to personalize education. I can see our graduation rates grow and our absenteeism decrease. I can see more understanding and compassion shown towards youth. I can see our community becoming more involved. Why? Because kids didn’t really deserve this and if any blame is to be given, it has to be given to adults. As my mother used to say, “We should have known better.”
Our nation will be better because our people on the front lines rose to the occasion and many died because of it. Our doctors and nurses and anyone who worked to help the victims of the virus deserve our gratitude just as all of those soldiers who gave their lives during war time. They all deserve a Medal of Honor, a Purple Heart. We once again realize that wars can also be fought at home and you don’t have to be a soldier to be a warrior. We all can be warriors.
If we all learn to be warriors, that would be change enough.
Riddle: What has 18 legs and catches flies? (Answer: A baseball team). Let’s wish that before too long we can enjoy America’s sport once again. Baseball is one thing we hope never changes.
Congratulations to all of the area high school graduates. You have taken a big first step. Be sure and say “thank you” and “miigwech” to those who helped you graduate. Now it’s your turn to help at least one other person graduate to reach our goal of 100%. Who will it be?
John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.