Dear Benjamin Community,
I participated in a webinar last week with heads of school from around the country to discuss communications in this time of crisis and limited contact. At one point, the conference leader was asked how frequently school heads should be writing to parents. Initially, daily communication was suggested. Ultimately, the recommendation was every other day.
Call me a rebel, but I would never subject you to that frequency of communications from me. Given all you are managing at home and work, you do not need to have me flooding you with emails and postings. At the same time, I do want to ensure you are kept informed. The Division Heads and I will share any changes in the Remote Learning Program, events, and other school matters as decisions are made. And, I hope you will not hesitate to communicate your thoughts and suggestions.
Beyond trying to avoid overwhelming you with emails, another reason for not writing as frequently as recommended is that I cannot imagine having enough of value to share that frequently. Then this morning I read a piece in the New York Times written by Madeleine Albright, former secretary of state; it does have value. Titled, The Best Response to Disaster is Resilience, I have excerpted part of it below. It provides a good message and perspective for these times.
Of course, what we consider normal varies widely. A homeless man’s routine differs from that of a billionaire; a refugee may be less eager to resume “business as usual” than a successful lawyer; 5-year-olds don’t look at the world with the same eyes as someone approaching her 83rd birthday.
Whether we are driven by nostalgia or an itch for something new, whether we are revolutionaries or preservationists, it is in the abnormal times that we learn most about ourselves and others. The shock absorbers that ordinarily shield our emotions and lull our minds no longer work so well. Our schedules are disrupted and our priorities change. We shrink, we grow, we may even die; we do not remain the same. This is true of nations as well as people.
I do not claim to understand much about human psychology. But I do think that we are a lot tougher and more capable of moral courage than cynics suggest, and that we benefit from the survivors among us. According to ancient myth, the one divine gift vouchsafed to humans — after all its evil companions escaped from Pandora’s box — was Hope.
When asked my outlook on life and world affairs, I reply that I am an optimist … who worries a lot. These are not the best of times, but we have seen worse. It might do well for us to view these abnormal days as an opportunity to ask more of ourselves, to reflect on our relations with one another, and think critically about improving the social, economic and political structures that shape our lives.
We can draw inspiration from those who have surmounted high obstacles in the past, and vow to make the new normal that we aim to bring about better, more just and more secure than the old.
Madeleine Albright, the United States secretary of state from 1997 to 2001, is the author of the forthcoming “Hell and Other Destinations.”
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