Fragility and resilience

Opinion: Editorials

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What a moment. Frightening, frustrating, infuriating in about equal measure. 

Our lives are not our own. Seems like an old-fashioned saying. But now our lives have been grabbed by the coronavirus pandemic and equally by the grotesque incompetence and mental imbalance of Donald Trump.

Don't get us started.

We'll bounce off the walls of our highly contained spaces. 

With Trump greasing the skids, we've watched systems that appeared semi-sturdy collapse in heaps. Who needs a pandemic task force in the White House? There's not a plan for enough respirators? The United State of America cannot test 10,000 people in a month for the virus but South Korea can test 10,000 in a day? We need to debate if our greedy private health care system will cover the cost of a test in a pandemic? And not to pile on, but Donald Trump, of all people, is actually the president during a pandemic.

So much fragility. So many reasons to think we're simply screwed. And we may yet be collectively screwed.

But over the past week as Trump has blathered and confounded, waxed on about the coming miracle that will end the pandemic and sweet-talk the stock market into submission, we have also watched governors, including Illinois' J.B. Pritzker, rise up and lead. 

In each of the towns we cover we have, to a routinely high level, watched as school superintendents, mayors, nonprofit leaders, village managers, ministers, cops and teachers, have stepped up to make hard, hard choices. Schools closed. Libraries closed, Parks closed. Churches closed. Restaurant dining rooms closed. 

Who would have thought we'd see the day when villages like Oak Park and River Forest declare "states of emergency"?

While stunned, we have watched families and individuals comply, grateful for leaders who lead, who understand this is the most critical moment to limit the spread of this virus. Except for the crazy people celebrating St. Pat's. Hope you enjoyed that last beer.

This is where the resilience comes through. We're scared for our health, for our kids and for our folks, for our jobs and our paychecks, and we know, even if we can't exactly grasp the dimensions, that the sacrifice is hardly even underway. 

We don't know what this week brings. Not much left to close down. But there is more damage, more unravelling ahead. We do know that.

It is in our communities where we will find the strength. And clearly it is where we will find our leaders. Smart, empathic, steady, caring. These are our neighbors who offer up their service. We raise them up with our votes. Sure, they're imperfect. We'd like to shake some of them at times. But they are decent, thoughtful and, most all of the time, without the ego that sinks Trump every damned day.

Hard times ahead. Pain to come. We will come through this changed in many ways. But come through it we will.

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