This is our moment.
Just as the Greatest Generation was tested by the Depression and World War II, this is our test.
It may seem hard to grasp; perhaps it even seems presumptuous. Our 20th century forebears endured privation, sacrifice – and, yes, death – in ways that are foreign to most of us.
We have made it a practice to praise the Greatest Generation, but how many of us truly understand them? What they went through?
This is our moment.
We are being asked to do what does not come naturally. To drastically alter our daily lives. Whether that is where we work, how we greet one another, how we spend our leisure time, we now are being asked, and in some cases told, to change.
Naturally, there is resistance. It is common these days not to trust our traditional institutions, which are increasingly – albeit belatedly and unevenly – calling for people to shed the comfort and habits of their lives.
This unevenness is evident in the Quad-Cities.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered bars and restaurants to stop indoor service on Sunday; Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds took that step Tuesday. Illinois last Friday ordered schools closed; Iowa's governor left the decision to local districts, though she recommended Sunday they close for four weeks. The Davenport, Bettendorf, North Scott and Pleasant Valley districts have followed her advice and are closed through April 10.
The urgency and delivery of the message varies, but it carries the same basic idea: We in the Quad-Cities, just as people are doing around the world, must alter our lives. Dramatically. And we must do so now – for each other, especially the most vulnerable among us.
We understand the disruption to the economy. Low-wage workers and small business owners, who have little room for sacrifice, are being asked to do something very difficult.
It is reasonable for them to question.
We must make it easier for them – and now is the time. We have no identified cases of COVID-19 in the Quad-Cities as of this writing. But that is a temporary condition. The virus is likely here and spreading unseen.
All medical experts have told us that the worst is yet to come.
The projections we’ve seen say we are only at the beginning of this challenge. The worst is probably weeks away.
If we act now, we can have an effect. A week ago, few of us were familiar with the phrase "flattening the curve," the concept of spreading over time the number of cases in order to limit the virus's impact. Now more of us know that if we don’t prevent a spike in illnesses, our hospitals will be overwhelmed. And if it happens, it will be rapid, and more of our friends and neighbors will die.
It is not time to panic, but it is time that we all act. We cannot wait.
Which means we need to assure those with the most to lose that we all will take care of them.
This, no doubt, will cost our treasury. If we do not act, the cost will be greater.
This is our moment.
Many of us revere the Greatest Generation because of the sacrifice they endured. (So many of us cannot imagine the idea of sending spouses, parents and children off to war for four years, each day wondering whether they were still alive.)
At some point, the people left at home had to find a way to manage their fears, just as we now are dealing with ours.
These fears will be with us for a while; not for four years, but likely for some months.
We have to find a way to endure. We believe the best way to accomplish this is with common purpose, by helping one another, by receiving that help ourselves.
It is deep within us that, for however long we are on this earth, we live not just for the comfort of our bodies but the redemption of our souls. Whether this is a religious imperative or an impulse born of humanity, we only need to summon it.
Imagine the power of all of us doing it together.
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