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Chester County Press

Editorial: Citizens of Resilience

11/25/2020 10:00AM ● By Richard Gaw

As this editorial is being written, one week before Thanksgiving Day, deaths attributable to COVID-19 in the United States have surpassed the quarter-million mark, in perfect and terrible harmony with the sudden increase in positive cases, denoted on charts by a vertical line that has careened into orbit, like a rocket ship at lift off on its way to the stars.

At last count, there are 281,852 positive cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania and 9,581 deaths – figures that are rising by the hour – and of the 522,000 residents who live in Chester County, 381 of them have died as a result of this virus, a number that may be north of 500 by Christmas Day.

While the widespread distribution of a safe and effective vaccine next year may serve as a miracle serum and a boon to the economic fortunes of both Wall Street and the U.S. economy, the immediate future of America teeters delicately on the thin ice of uncertainty. More than two weeks after the Nov. 3 presidential election, the outgoing administration is still, defiantly and without substantiated evidence, dangling allegations of fraud as a hammerhead tool of interference, clogging the wishes of the President-elect to collaborate on a plan moving forward.

In our politics and our ideologies, we are more divided than at any time since the Civil War; the polar ice caps continue to crash into the sea; and the social discord of our focus on race continues to be a wound not only of our flesh but of our spirit.

As this editorial is being written, one week before Thanksgiving Day, our nation is a broken module, a fragile gift with an unsightly crack in it, and at the moment, no amount of prayers and good tidings spoken at our respective tables next Thursday are likely to lend solace or reconciliation to the outrageous, unprecedented and ungodly events of this year.

We are bruised and battered, prizefighters against the ropes, but rather than acquiesce to defeat, we define this holiday season in the same way that soldiers do when describing the temporary haven of a foxhole, or when the marginalized articulate the gift of a blanket or a winter coat.

We are burrowing in the soft and familiar emotions of that which has never left us.

We are shopping this weekend for turkeys and yams and turnips and potatoes – in stores and markets, where we will run into friends and neighbors whose smiles we have not seen since March.

We are digging out the dog-eared recipes from our grandmother’s kitchen like treasured and timeless heirlooms.

We have narrowed our invitation lists down to the nub of essential personnel only, and made Zoom plans to gather with absent friends and family, touching the screen where their faces are.

This year, we will fling the internal focus of our annual thanks outward in words that sound like compassion and hope, in the way a sailor does with a net in the hope of capturing fish at sea.

We will speak from the part of our bodies where our most solemn feelings live, because this year, we will share our grace with strangers less fortunate, those wounded and fragile and defeated, and to those we never knew, who because of this virus will never see another Thanksgiving table.

We have been forced to spend the better part of this year on our own private islands, but if we take the time to look at the rest of this nation, we begin to see millions of other private islands.

We have been through wars, famine, disease and conflict and endured a Great Depression, and we have never, not once, abandoned the yearly ritual of sitting at the tables we have set in celebration of this American holiday.

We will assemble again this Thursday with every one the scars and the remnants we have all endured in this, the most difficult year of many of our lives, and we will wear them like battle wounds, the evidence of our engagement.

We are, in this regard, no more than the mirrored reflections of those Americans who have come before us, and we will keep coming back to this table because this is all we know.

We are the world’s Citizens of Resilience.

Happy Thanksgiving.