Wait . . . that’s not what I meant.
Those of you who know of Aaron Sorkin will recognize the following line: “America is not the greatest country in the world. That’s my answer.” In classic Sorkin fashion, Jeff Daniels rants on about what people think is so great about America. “Freedom! . . . Belgium has freedom.” Halfway through his diatribe he picks on a lonely, young coed who asked what makes America the greatest country on the earth. After listing off that America is only number 1 in three categories: The number of people incarcerated per capita, the number of people who believe in angels, and the first in defense spending. He streams on and finishes his reply with, “ . . . so when you say America is the greatest country on earth, I don’t know what the Fuck you’re talking about . . . Yosemite?”
Guess what, Yosemite just dropped down the list. America is number 1 again. But in this case we are number one for a particular reason. I believe that reason is the one that truly makes us a great country. We are a melting pot. We are group of gatherers, a cohort of cultures. We define diversity. Other countries mock us, make fun of our growing pains and the bravado which hides our shyness and shame. They envy both our initiative and abilities. People from around the globe risk their lives daily to come here. They come here to be a part of something great.
The Tangerine man wears a red hat and dances at the end of the grinder’s leash. This is not greatness. This is a distraction. The novelty of his performance is fleeting and the organ grinder’s music has become repetitive, tedious and out of tune. It is most definitely out of tune with the times, these times, I assure you. Our strength, our very greatness lies in our diversity. It lies in our endurance, in our optimism, and in our faith. Faith that tomorrow the sun will shine. Faith that the skies will be clear and the organ grinder’s monkey will stop dancing.
But faith, most of all, in ourselves. These times are hard, very hard. I live a life alone by my own choosing and even so, I have begun to see the edges of my psyche fray. (Routine, remember your routine Tom.) One part of my routine is to write to you each day. In essence my love letter to you all. My attempt to woo you. This is the thing I do when I am happy or sad, anxious or calm, melancholy or manic. I write. I write to reach out from my loneliness and share who I am. I write that my voice will not be lost. I write to share what I see. It is the closest thing to art that I have to offer.
We, the human race that is, have seen this before. We have seen great times of strife. We have seen death tolls rise by the thousands, tens of thousands, millions even. Yet humanity has survived. This time is interesting though. This time we are not waiting for bombs to drop on us. For each time they drop we can seek shelter underground, and if they miss us, by even just a little, we still survived. Those who did not, never knew it. Each day we wake and are met by hunger. (And an extremely uncomfortable urge to use the facilities.) Our sense of survival kicks in, and other thoughts slip away, however briefly. We begin and make our way through the day. This time there is no air raid siren wo warn us of the bombs. No anti-aircraft barrage to warn us that danger is coming. This one is silent, and the silence makes us fear even more. We fear so much that we physically avoid the ones we love. This separation is hurting us all.
But, and I rarely like to use the word but, but here it is. This time is different. This time we have the internet. This time we can connect. This time we are not alone in our cabins, in the back woods, waiting for the wolf to come to our door. This time we DO have each other. But most importantly we have ourselves. Remember, it is in times like these that the greatest works are born. This is a time to search for and develop your best self. This is the time.
MAGA is a joke. Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) was wrong. We already live in the greatest country on earth. We have the basics: food, shelter, and friends. But we also have opportunity. A thing that most nations do not, not in the way we have it. Now is the time to seize that opportunity. Tom Hanks uses a typewriter. Liberty Pierson made a You Tube video to teach us how to draw a self-portrait. (https://youtu.be/c2nq4zTsdjY) Peter Brooks, as brilliantly insane as he is, is giving us Love In The Time of Covid, a podcast. (https://anchor.fm/peter108/episodes/Love-in-the-Time-of-Covid-319-ebmkvr) Nicole Hodge is working tirelessly to make sure that we all have amazing, and inspiring food. (https://www.leagueofchefs.com/)
Now. Right now is a time of greatness. Right now, is the time for each of us to be great . . . and to share it.