[4 minute read]
I live a block from a Carnegie public library whose namesake wrote, “The man who dies rich dies disgraced.” Bill Gates prophesied a pandemic for which we are woefully prepared and has put his money where his mouth is, stewarding his fortune to address global suffering, including this pandemic.
The stewardship of wealth by titans is merely the most collectively visible reminder of the power of individual persons. Responsible stewardship by moguls is their “giving back” to the persons who collectively enabled their wealth. It’s their self-emptying from atop humps on camels which face needle eyes (or ropes or Gates, if you prefer; see).
Carnegie lived through the Civil War and The Spanish-American war, and was frustrated by the hypocritical lip service of US presidents to global peace—dialogs entertained for the sad purposes of campaign finance messes that continue to plague us a century later, according to at least one reputed historian ￼indicts these presidents as war mongers. Carnegie was left to attempt global diplomacy largely on his own. World War I followed. And the unspeakable horrors of the 20th century ensued:
He was very much a “fool for peace.” His legacy is the notion that civilized people should not consider war inevitable but, rather, an aberration to be abolished. He was a “possibilist,” not a realist. We need more such [people]… willing to dream of a better world and to do what they can to bridge the gap between the present and that better future they envision.
Not too long after Teddy Roosevelt betrayed Carnegie, his fifth cousin lamented:
I have seen war… blood running from the wounded… the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed… children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.
As we consume sweeping epic news stories about the pandemic, let’s remember that the agony and death are happening to individual human persons.
FDR’s hatred was penned half a decade before the US entered World War II. Half a decade before today’s pandemic, Bill Gates prophesied about our unreadiness for a pandemic in a TED Talk. He put his money where his mouth was even before that prophecy, and continues to do so, marshaling human resources to complement governmental, academic, and private corporate cooperation.
It’s easier to tell and hear the story of one person than of so many heroic persons. But Gates’ generosity has no meaning without single persons translating it into transcendent goodness. If we keep our global vision integrated with a narrowed local vision, this historical event can deeply touch both our personal and collective souls.
The call to social distancing etc. is a cosmically potent prophecy about thinking globally and acting locally: A virus has no respect for sequestered material wealth. Each individual person is vulnerable, and has a responsibility to the collective of humanity—because each person has intrinsic, divine worth by virtue of inestimable value, power, and therefore responsibility. We are all Spider-Mans.
The nobility of “first responders” now includes souls in the food industry and grocery stores. The unspeakable horrors of the 20th century have not entirely drawn our collective attention. At the dawn of the 21st-century, nearly 2 decades ago, horrors above central Pennsylvania, at the Pentagon, and in New York City produced tangible legacies in US society. Little motivates transformation more than the tragedy of deep suffering. As it is for individuals, so it is for a civilization.
Be a first responder to your sister, brother, child, parent… neighbor, grocery bagger, nurse assistant… stranger who walks past six feet away… We are persons before we are a people.
This mystery of paradox is this pandemic’s message:
Vulnerability and power are two sides of the same coin.
By honoring the infinite worth of each person we encounter, we honor our own divine spark within—vulnerable and powerful.
[Tomorrow, related, “Pandemic. Mother Earth’s Dark Night of the Soul.” Tap “Notify me of new posts via email.” at the end of this page to receive an email when it’s posted. In the meantime, a first response: Pandemic Conspiracy Theory of The New World Order Cabal]