The old man used to say, “facing a disaster with people who are at their best in the worst of times is far better than sitting down to a feast with people who are at their worst in the best of times.” If we are now to be led by somebody who evinces every sign of being at his worst in the best of times he has always sought to create for himself, then we also have an opportunity. In the worst of times that he may soon create for the rest of us, let’s resolve to be our best selves.
The natural, comfortable responses to an unpleasant surprise are anger or self-pity. Our advice is not to waste time on either. It may be too soon to laugh (although there will be ample opportunity to do that, sooner than we think), but it is never too early to renew our sense of who we are.
The truth is, we are still the same people we were 24 hours ago. And among the many unwelcome changes that may be coming, here is one we ought to embrace: we will now need each other more than ever before. We still embody the same values. We still cherish the same hopes. And we have not been rendered suddenly incapable of working together in the service of shared ideals.
Max Weber once wrote that, “politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takes both passion and perspective…. And even those who are neither leaders nor heroes must arm themselves with that steadfastness of heart which can brave even the crumbling of all hopes. This is necessary right now, or else men will not be able to attain even that which is possible today.”
So let us begin by focusing on what is possible today, and the next day, and the day after. In short, let’s get to work.