I just had to get out of here, so yesterday I spent several hours on my boat just cruising through the Southeast Louisiana marsh. The wildlife was amazing, huge alligators, thousands of migrating ducks and other birds, the bright green of rebirth as the marsh springs to life. But through all this serenity a different image broke through.
I have lived through Hurricanes Betsy, Camille, and Katrina. They were all the same, death and destruction. But these disasters were localized, affecting a relatively small area of the Gulf South. Now we are experiencing something so different, a disaster that encompasses the whole nation. I suppose that this is what my parents went through during World War II. Years of deprivation and lost youth. But the nation then was transfixed on a universal idea, that America and American ideals were worth expending so much effort and blood on. And they were right.
After those localized storms hit our area, Americans always rallied to our side. The entire nation would focus its effort on the Gulf coast until inevitably we would rise again, better than before. But this epidemic is different, there is no subset of America that needs aid. We all are in the same boat. So, much like the 1940’s, America’s resiliency is not just that we have rallied support to a portion of the nation. Not at all, America is demonstrating its fundamental values by rallying support to the entire nation. And once the medical crisis has passed our people will continue to stand strong as we recover from the economic disaster that has derived from the virus.
I am a great believer that history is prologue. And American history is clear on this point. Dating back to our founding tribulations, after every major setback, the American people have answered the call, not only to stand strong in the face of adversity, but to emerge stronger and more powerful than ever.
Perhaps the metaphor of a marsh wildfire is appropriate. Every now and then, from whatever cause, a wildfire will rage through our wondrous marshland. It is a disaster, nature at its lowest. But come the very next spring, the grasses and small tress reemerge, seemingly like magic animals and birds are everywhere, and within the blink of an eye, that once carbonized mess that had been a the remnants of a marsh wildfire, is transformed into a lush green, replete with life of all kinds. A reborn marsh far superior to the one that had been destroyed. Much like any natural disaster, marsh fires are part of nature’s strategy, for millions of years that is exactly how nature has improved itself.
Perhaps my solitary boat ride gave me too much time to reflect. But as history tells us, what I saw in nature’s rebirth is exactly what will happen in but a few short months with our entire nation.