It’s so easy to judge the people of the past, from atop our hill of hindsight. We reflect on historical events and ask, “How could they have believed that? How could they have let that happen? Why didn’t they know better?”
If we take a look around, we’re living in the middle of the answer.
To share some examples from my own lifetime: Let’s start with 9/11/2001. As the events of that day (and the days that followed) unfolded, we had far more questions than answers. Who had done these things, and why? Was it a criminal act, or an act of war? How should we respond? What would it mean for our country’s future?
And now there is COVID, and again we have more questions than answers. We’ve had pandemics before, but not like this one. We ask ourselves and each other: “Will there be a vaccine? A cure? When? Will life ever get back to ‘normal?’ Am I in danger myself?”
The people of the future will judge us. They will wonder why we didn’t do better, why we didn’t know better, why we made mistakes. But when you’re in the middle of things, as we are now, it’s hard to see clearly while events swirl around us. It’s hard to sort the facts from the fear when you’re in the thick of the storm. In military parlance, this is called “the fog of war.”
So how would we like to be remembered, when this is all in the past? I hope we will be remembered as people who took care of each other, who protected those weaker than ourselves, and who did our best to live in community with all of our fellow humans.
We have to navigate the fog, and when the fog lifts, I hope we’re better people.