I often write an early September blog about going Back to School.
It is an easy metaphor to make. It’s easy to speak inspirationally about lifelong learning. The COVID lockdown has reignited that in people around the world. For example, I started to play the piano with the help of apps and YouTube.
So what if I can now peck out a few keys from my favourite Adele, John Lennon, or Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper songs? Is that minor accomplishment going to change my life or impact the world’s direction? Nope. At best it will keep my brain a little sharper as I creep into old age. At worst it allows me to fantasize about possessing the musical skills, and personal discipline, that I envy in talented and focused people
However, there is a glaringly important lesson for us to learn during these days when our children are trickling back into some form of structured education. Glaring, but simple.
History repeats itself.
Let’s consider the following:
I. When the Spanish flu crippled the world between 1908 and 1920, those regions that took preventive measures such as wearing masks suffered the least amount of infections and casualties.
II. When any national ruler rises to power on the foundation of nationalism, protection of past ways of life, and masked racism, that ruler lulls the country to sleep and when they wake their democracy has become a dictatorship.
III. When a natural, medical, or militant disaster hits any country or region, those with the least suffer the most, and those with the most suffer the least.
History has proven these truths, year after year, generation after generation. But what does it mean for us?
It means that if we are smart we will take the lessons of the past and apply them to today. We will practice social distancing and wear masks. We will hold politicians accountable for their misdeeds. We will seek solutions that overcompensate for those who need it.
The next three months will be the most important in history since World War II.
If we don’t stop this pandemic, millions more will die and millions of dollars will be lost. If countries around the world don’t stop their dictators who poison and lie as easily as they breathe, civil liberties will be lost forever. If we don’t help those who need it, an entire generation of potential will be wasted.
This morning I passed by a school of dozens of eager, masked faces, safely lined up to get inside their classes. They were treated by welcoming, masked teachers and staff, and sent off by nervous parents. I paused. I watched. I smiled.
These kids are resilient. They are battling through. Us adults need to step up. We have the advantage of knowledge. We know what happened in the past.
We should know not to let it happen again.