Several years ago, a longtime friend from my days in radio broadcasting, reflected how we had witnessed so many truly amazing new stories in our lifetime. Both of us had grown up during the years of Watergate. Though we were small boys we still had memories of Richard Nixon resigning from the White House. But in our adult years we had witnessed the Challenger explosion, a traumatic event for the entire nation. Then we recalled the 2000 election which was decided by the United States Supreme Court.
There was President Clinton’s impeachment process, the bombastic 2016 election, the truly bizarre years of Donald Trump’s tenure in the White House, and then his impeachment proceedings. Now we are experiencing a pandemic, a virus that is impacting every aspect of society.
As a news junkie, and a politico, I do try to keep up on the world. But for the past 48 hours it has been almost impossible to stay current with the news stories, and now cancellations, regarding all parts of our society.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has called for the closing of all state schools. Dane County has demanded that any venue with 250 people or more be closed. Broadway shows in downtown Madison have been canceled, and all music venues in the city shuttered for the next number of weeks. To say this is unprecedented would be a most absurd understatement. We are living history.
About a week ago James and I knew with the rate of increase of the coronavirus it would certainly impact the city in which we live. It was then we decided to do, what we call ‘pantry shopping’, a couple-hour spree where loading up on the essentials occurs. We do such a trip to a large grocery store about every 8 months, and in so doing, James, who is nothing short of a chef, has all he needs to create meals from our freezers and shelves. The last thing we desire to do is eat out at a time of such uncertainty. And to undermine the whole rationale of remaining apart from others so to limit the spread of the virus. In so doing the effort will aid in not overwhelming our medical communities.
As we joked with other people on social media we had stocked up on coffee, wine, and enough books to last for many weeks. In fact, we had joked perhaps the most important item on our list was to make sure plenty of books were available that would meet our interests.
Two nights ago, when the news started to become rather intense, I selected one of those guilty pleasure reads, and started to turn the pages. The book Sycamore Row, by John Grisham, was the perfect tonic as the news stories were alarming, facts were distressing, and a general mood of deep concern settled over the land. The fictional account from Ford County, a place made so famous by Grisham, allowed for real escapism.
While most of my reading enjoyment has always been about history I am finding a certain comfort in the fast storytelling of Grisham, knowing that the lawyer at the heart of the story will come out as a winner and successful on the closing pages. It is, after all, good to be assured that Grisham books always end on a high note.
Meanwhile, the historical news story playing out with this pandemic can not be cast with any degree of certainty as to how it ends. There is no way to predict the next news cycle, the duration of the virus, or the devastation that it will leave in its wake.
All we know is that this is a moment in time which will be recorded by historians, read about by future generations, and reflected on long after this event has passed away. How leadership is demonstrated by our government officials, and how we as individuals conduct ourselves during this arduous time in our country will be long recorded and remembered.
Let us do our part to make sure the written accounts of this time cast us in a credible light, as we worked with a unified effort to care for each other.