I’ve been thinking, lately, about all that’s going on in the world right now. It seems we are in one of those periods of time that truly, as Thomas Paine wrote in December of 1776, “try men’s souls.”
On one hand, we are facing an ongoing and confusing COVID pandemic, which seems to separate people rather than pull them together. To mask or not to mask? To vax or not to vax? To hold in-person classes or implement plans for distance learning?
I recently heard of a school district where the parents, staff, administration and local school board argued all year about whether or not to let kids come to school and, if they did, whether or not masks would be mandatory. That same district failed to reach any common ground and recently began the 2021-2022 school year with in-seat learning with no “official” announcement about any of the aforementioned topics or options.
Whenever the topics of the pandemic, lockdowns, masks, distancing, and schools come up, you can bet there will be at least two sides facing off and trying to gain ground in an already hateful, dehumanizing and discriminatory battle of who’s right and who’s wrong. And good luck trying to figure out who holds the moral high ground on such.
On another front, our nation is beginning to see the beginnings of shortages in grocery stores as well as diminishing supplies of other goods, such as appliances, building materials, and even fuel. Some blame supply chain issues for the shortages, while others claim it is a workforce issue. All I know is this: if it gets to the point where people can’t get food, things are going to get even crazier than they are right now — and, in my opinion, stuff is plenty crazy as it is.
And now we have this trouble in Afghanistan. I don’t need to go into too much detail, but suffice it to say I believe things over there are bound to get worse before they improve. That is, if our leaders keep going down the path they are on. A change in plans, policies, strategies — or whatever — seems to be the only way forward. I pray for the souls and families, friends, and loved ones of those who have already died senselessly in the most recent rounds of terrorism. And I believe we would all do well to be prepared for more turmoil, death and destruction when it comes to the Taliban, ISIS, and Al Qaeda.
When Paine wrote the quote I alluded to earlier, part of the opening phrase of a series of pamphlets called American Crisis, he was trying to stir up the populace and the military alike to push on with the American revolution. The full phrase reads: “These are the times that try men’s souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
I agree with Paine’s words that, the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
These things we face at this time are not easily conquered, but we must face them and move forward. We must do what we can to overcome the current pandemic; we must prepare ourselves for what might truly be a coming period of lack; and we must stand shoulder to shoulder in an effort to overcome evil wherever it shows its frightful face.
If, in doing so, we — like Paine and the other patriots of his time — come face to face with tyranny, we must overcome it, as well.