Things are rough out there, it’s hard to argue with that. The stock market. Quarantines. Hospitals filled to capacity, and beyond. Travel plans cut short. Families cut off from loved ones.
And terrible events have been happening for all of humankind. My province of Nova Scotia in Canada is dealing with the worst mass killing in the history of Canada over the past weekend.
What is happening?! you might find yourself asking. This is terrifying, are things breaking down? Maybe. But it’s helpful to recall in times like these that, as the broadcaster Paul Harvey once explained, there have always been times like these.
Marcus Aurelius lived through a pandemic. If you’re old enough to read this, then you have already experienced at least one financial crisis. You are the last link in an unbroken chain of ancestors who managed to make it to child bearing age. Which is to say, you come from a long line of survivors: People who lived through civil wars as well as civil unrest. People who survived man-made cataclysms and natural disasters. People who outlasted quarantines and long separations. People who had their plans disrupted. People who woke up for days and days in a row not knowing what the morning would bring, or the kind of future that lay ahead.
One of my grandmothers survived the London Blitz. People survived the Black Plague. They survived the Mongols and cold nights on the frontier. They survived without governments. They survived without electricity. They endured grief and fear and pain and change. They kept calm, they carried on. They learned, as Marcus did, that things can only ruin your life if they ruin your character. That we might not control world events, but we control how we respond.
We control whether we hold our heads high. We control whether we help our neighbors. We control whether we contribute to the panic or not. We control whether we take care of ourselves and take precautions. We control whether we live up to that eternal standard of Courage, Moderation, Justice and Wisdom.
Yeah, it’s tough out there. It’s scary. But we’re going to be okay. We’re going to keep going. We’re going to get through this.