all of the selves we Have ever been
The proliferation of technology
and social media seems to have elevated speed over accuracy, impulsiveness over deliberateness, “influence” over integrity. I often think of a quote by Yogi Berra, the Yankee’s catcher turned manager and coach, “We’re lost but we’re making good time.”
In the typical rhythm of daily life, we’re moving so fast we forget there is a destination. We’re going wherever we land. There seems to be a shrug your shoulders, “Oh, well,” attitude that leads to much frustration when trying to solve problems. Time and again, I have observed people in meetings talk over each other and then watched as each person left the gathering with a different idea of the marching orders. Chaos ensues. Sometimes the damage done in chaos is difficult to repair.
Back in 1989 Stephen Covey wrote a wildly popular business/self-help book titled The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. One of the important habits recommended by Covey was to begin with the end in mind. Even though we are a long way from 1989, I still prefer begin with the end in mind to “Oh, well.”
In a prior post, Closing Up For the Night, I wrote of a Holocaust survivor I met who shared her survival story from World War II. Her family was in hiding on a neighbor’s farm when Nazi officers came to speak with the owners. Fearing they had been discovered or soon would be, the woman’s father gathered his family together and said, “We must separate.” The father also reassured his children, “This war will end, and when it does, we will meet again.” The father divided his family into pairs and gave each pair a new location to hide. He also gave each one an address where they should meet when the war was over. Miraculously, they survived.
When I first heard that story, I felt as though I had been struck in the head. I had to do some serious self-examination. What kind of parent would I be under those circumstances? Would I be brave and reassuring? Or would I be frightened, predicting the worst, saying my good byes instead of making plans to save my family? Would I have begun with the preferred end in mind? Or would I have panicked and helped to create the terrible outcome I feared?
The father of the Holocaust survivor could see to the end of the war. He made a thoughtful, deliberate plan for the survival of his children and family. What if he had said, “Oh, well,” instead? What if he had begun running as soon as the Nazi soldiers left the farm, moving fast but without a destination? Without a plan?
We have been thrust into grave uncertainty, “not ordinary times,” as Governor Mike DeWine quoted today when I tuned into the press conference given by the Ohio governor’s office. I am relieved to hear the experts speak about a plan that begins with the end in mind. I appreciate their thoughtful, deliberate actions and recommendations, and I am moved by their intelligence, kindness and integrity. I can only imagine their level of exhaustion. They are not just government officials, but parents, spouses, grandparents, brothers, sisters, friends, children of aging parents…They have all the same worries that I do, and yet, they bravely face this situation and remain available twenty-four hours a day.
Politicians have developed a poor reputation in recent years. These people are bringing back honor to public service.
I am also moved by the ingenuity and generosity of individuals in government and the private sector given shout-outs by the Governor today. These people are joining forces to ensure that there will be hospital beds, protective supplies and equipment, benefits, essential services, and protection of our rights as citizens.
Compared to that father back in the barn who was trying to save his family from a holocaust, I have been asked to do so little. I am certain he would have preferred my orders—stay home.
For now, we must separate. When this war against the coronavirus ends, we will meet again. When we arrive at our meeting place, I want to be able to say that I was brave and kind. I want it to be said that I thoughtfully and deliberately contributed to a positive outcome and the safety of my family and community.
It helps to know where you are headed and to have someone who knows how to get you there.