Ninety Days in the Heart of America

Creating Change in the Age of Dispersed Power

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Kevin Hancock, CEO of Hancock Lumber. Photo credit: Jessica Weiser
Kevin Hancock, CEO of Hancock Lumber. Photo credit: Jessica Weiser

There have been lots of corporate pronouncements and CEO statements in recent weeks and I have been thinking in depth about what mine is and should be.

Try as I might, my mind keeps getting drawn back to 2020 in its totality.  It’s the mass sum of what has transpired in an unprecedented span of ninety days that tells the full story of who we in America are.  There is something about the entire story that reveals our unexpected potential for unity and triumph.    

First there was the rumor: A virus was coming.  
Then, in an instant, that virus appeared.
Next came the lockdown.  
An entire country disappeared.
Worry and idleness soon reigned and held sway.
Then came the arrest that caused death and dismay.
Now two separate stories, one new and one old, 
Both shared center stage, and each took a great toll.
But out of the ashes an outcome appeared.  
The people were changing, transcending their fear.

Time and again in the recent weeks we have seen the American PEOPLE coming together on a localized and organic scale to establish a foundation for defeating both a new crisis and a chronic old one. While the dust is far from settled, a common theme has unexpectedly emerged.  

Who would have thought that a fast traveling virus and the inertia of racism would have the same antidote?  

That antidote is EVERYBODY UNITING, on a local level, and making the commitment to change whether we are directly affected or not.  In March, hundreds of millions of people who never caught the virus were nonetheless willing to alter their patterns of living for the wellness of society as a whole.  Then in May, hundreds of millions of people (including many who had never been direct victims of police brutality or institutionalized racism) were once again inspired to come forward and demand change.  

This is NOT turning out to be a year in which America failed or was thrown into irreparable chaos.  It is, under the most unlikely of circumstances, turning out to be a year in which, together, America rose.

In both cases, our response has embodied the essence of America’s feisty love affair with independence.  The government has worked earnestly on both events, but the bureaucracy cannot on its own carry the day. Americans individually are more agile than our government.  While government was writing policies for the safe spacing of bar stools and driving ranges, individual Americans were already acting, already changing, already healing, and already marching. 

Unlike so many countries, America has never been a place where government is the central player or the transcendent creator of action.  In America the people are the power. Our weakness may be that we need a crisis to bring forth our best.  Perhaps we have all been sitting back a little too much, letting someone else in a faraway headquarters or on TV turn the wheel.

Well, in a span of ninety days, that all just changed. 

Perhaps many years from now, grandchildren will sit and listen to the story of how one new and one old foe awoke the American people who then retook their power to lead their own country.

It’s difficult to write about events as they unfold. Neither the virus nor racism has thrown in the towel.  But in both cases the people have said, “Enough”.  It’s awakening and inspiring to realize that the only antidote for both evils is for EVERYONE to agree to participate personally in creating change.  Racism, like a virus, travels one person at a time and no government can stamp it out.  Only we the people can do that.     

In the year 2020 a virus came and racism reared its devilish head once more.  But the people rose up.  And the people came forth.  And we changed.  

That’s what happened in America in the spring of 2020…  

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