Living in “Interesting Times”

58th Berlin Conference on “Living in Interesting Times”

Never can I remember times like these that surely qualify for the American version of what we have named “The Chinese curse,“  “May you live in interesting times.” Barely recovered from the debauched Presidential Debate this week, when we received news early Friday morning via the President’s tweet that he and his wife and White House assistant Hope Hicks tested positive for the coronavirus.

Now several members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who attended an event at the White House a week ago Saturday, have also tested positive. Separate of how and when the virus spread, it’s important to wish the President and his wife, staff, and any legislators (and all others throughout the country still suffering from the virus) a speedy recovery.

Just a month remains in what feels like an endless 2020 political campaign for President. Here in Texas tomorrow marks the end of Voter Registration. Mail-in ballots, many from people over 65 fearful of entering the polls during the Pandemic, are already being deposited at locked boxes under the control of the Texas Elections Commission. Last week as the process began, the Governor mandated drop off points be limited to just one per county, despite the width and breath of most counties in this proud, very large state. That will force those living far from the drop off points to rely on the U.S. mail, slowed in recent weeks maybe to reduce costs, but when the mail carries electoral ballots, the nation requires efficiency and transparency to get this vital job accomplished with all possible speed. It is not the time to question this agency, but to support the Post Office where overtime and equipment are needed NOW to be prepared for the onslaught and to meet the federal mandate!

As we are faced with so many challenges to our lives, our finances, and the crumbling of dreams we held close, it seems we are surrounded by uncertainty. We may feel discouraged, distressed and even depressed over our prospects. I may be considered a Pollyanna, or a wishful thinker, but I believe it can be darkest before the dawn. We must stay the course, keep our heads held up as we plow through the darkness, never sacrificing our beliefs, always striving for the truth. There’s rocky road ahead, no doubt, but we must stay the course.

Former Attorney General Robert Kennedy, addressed distressing circumstances in 1966 after the assassination of his brother and Martin Luther King, prior to his own assassination. “Like it or not, we live in interesting times,” he said. “These are times of danger and uncertainty, but these are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history.” Six years earlier his brother, President John F. Kennedy, said on Oct. 1, 1960: I am a friend of freedom and wherever freedom is, I feel at home.” Today to maintain this “land of the free,” we must stay the course of democracy in order to “feel at home” here. Today as we assess our circumstances, certainly we are in “unusual times,” but we must continue our efforts to rebuild a nation that nurtures freedom and seeks to shape a creative response to our problems. Only by working together can we shed light on solutions that will bring a ray of hope to guide us out of the darkness.

In the 1930s a British MEP, Sir Austin Chamberlain, said he learned of an ancient Chinese curse from an ambassador, but such a curse never actually existed. Never the less, it continues more as an imaginary curse, repeated in American culture for ninety years.

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