In the previous post, I articulated the sense of loss that we might be feeling as so many aspects of our everyday life have been truncated, restricted, delayed, modified beyond all recognition, or completely vaporized. All that, in a matter of weeks.
Usually, life allows us to adapt, change, and grow gradually. Going through school and getting an education is a large process that takes time. Growing up physically usually takes years, too. We may experience big moments within these processes, but the processes themselves are deliberate, paced, and moderated by a multitude of natural and manmade factors. It takes nine months to make a baby. It’s a process.
Pandemics and the havoc they wreak on societies are not so gradual. Historically, they have been sudden and traumatic. Lots of people get sick and lots of people die very quickly. Personal finances take a hit. Societies shudder, and shutter. Stress levels rise. People lash out. Pain is everywhere. Recovery is slow.
But recovery does happen, and often the lessons we learn during a sudden, emotional, and difficult experience stay with us and benefit us more than gradual processes. The suffering, as a friend of mine once said, gets tattooed in our brains.
For example, we all know the personal habits of ‘children of the Great Depression.’ Many lost their life’s savings. Many went hungry. But as a result, this generation saved money, they worked hard, they delayed gratification, and they did well over time. Coupled with FDRs New Deal, you could argue that they made America what it is today: a safe, free democratic society that endeavors to provide equality and opportunity to the majority of its citizens. All based on a set of shared values forged from disaster.
Make no mistake: people lost a lot. They suffered a lot. They went through a war. They came out on the other side, stronger, smarter, kinder, and more determined. They did this because they didn’t let the circumstances define them. They let their response to the circumstances define them.
This pandemic and the disruption it has caused have presented us with our Defining Moment. We can despair and complain, and let the weight of this tragedy overwhelm us. Or we can find a sense of hope, and rise above it.
Many times on this blog, I know I’m ‘preaching to the choir’ when I discuss Old Money values, in terms of ethics and morality, and How Old Money Does It, in terms of lifestyle. I imagine most everyone who participates on this blog behaves honorably and lives like Old Money, whether you’re born into it or have simply chosen it as a way of life.
I know some of you will ride out this crisis pretty much unscathed. Some of you are enduring difficult times. What we can find in this moment is a sense of unity. Even if we aren’t sharing the same experience in our personal situations, we can know that we share the same Core Values as a community, and the same resilience, regardless of the challenges.
What I personally see in this crisis is opportunity. The opportunity to convert a large number of Americans into a new generation of Old Money Guys and Gals. Not just a well-educated mass of button-downs and khakis living within their means, raising well-mannered children, and driving Volvos, although that wouldn’t all together be a bad thing, now that I think about it…
What I’m really thinking about is a movement…a campaign to reach the people who don’t read this blog, and get them to reconnect with their sense of decency, integrity, hard work, humanity, and independence.
The design and format this campaign will take is unclear at present. I have only a general sense of the direction in which to move. The resources necessary have not been determined, and the landscape I’ll need to navigate is still to be charted.
Only my message is certain: Old Money Values can reshape America, revitalize its people, and restore the fundamentals that made this country, for all its faults, what it is: a beacon, an ideal, a sanctuary, and the promise for a brighter future.
Therein lies our hope, and our mission.