I was on a panel today with architect/planner Mark Barksdale, who opened his remarks by recounting his experience of looking at the hole in the side of the Tower, knowing from his training that the building would collapse, and being helpless to stop it. He felt sick when he heard that people had been told to shelter in place rather than flee. His vivid image of the wounded Tower made me think of the many wounds to the social fabric of our nation. I often wonder these days if our society will collapse, and so do many other people.
I was heartened by listening to Reverend William Barber II. Toby Horn, a college classmate, sent me a link to a Facebook Live event, Rev. Barber II chatting by phone with Andy Shallal of Washington, DC's Busboys and Poets Bookstore. Rev. Barber said to Andy, "We must vote this November. We must have people in office who will fight for the poor, the low-wealth and all who are oppressed and marginalized. And after we vote, we will insist that they do the right thing. Forward together, not one step back." This possibility filled me with joy.
And I also took heart from the University of Orange weekly newsletter, which told the story of NYC RECOVERS, a project my colleagues and I started after 9.11. Reading about the project reminded me of all we learned in tending to the social and emotional recovery of New York City, and most particularly the tasks of groups, which we named: Remember, Respect, Learn and Connect.
Life is, after all, a conversation with the world in which we try to name the problems, try to remember when we've faced them before and then try to remember what worked. We can get lost in this process, and that's what friends are for. One of my friends, Doug Farrand, has spent the past five months reminding me that, back in March, I said we needed to turn on the love to get through this moment. His repetition of my advice is slowly sinking in. This photo of a rock in Highbridge Park, which was the last slide I showed on the panel, captures this sentiment. Remember, Respect, Learn and Connect -- and TURN ON THE LOVE.