Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity
Portfolio/Penguin (November 2020)
The future isn’t whatever happens; rather, what we make of it…for better or worse.
The character for the Chinese word for “crisis” (危机) has two meanings: “peril” and “critical juncture.” I was again reminded of that as I began to work my way through Scott Galloway’s book. He wrote it in order to inspire in his readers — indeed, in as many people as possible — “greater comity, more empathy for the disenfranchised, and a greater need for what it means to be an American.” He hopes they will reinvest in the greatest source of good in history — the U.S. government.”
Opinions are divided about the goodness of the current government but most citizens agree that its potentialities for almost unlimited progress in all sectors are unsurpassed by any other country. Long ago, Thomas Edison asserted that “vision without execution is hallucination.” More recently, Darrell Royal explained that “potential” means “you ain’t done it yet.” I agree with both of them as well as with Galloway who balances a rock-solid faith in what is possible with what Hemingway once characterized as “a built-in, shock-proof crap detector.” If a global crisis such as COVID-19 reveals character, he suggests, it also reveals its absence.
These are among Galloway’s final thoughts: “America’s history is not short on crises or missed opportunities. Its sins and failures are as historic as its virtues and successes. At its best, America exemplifies the generosity, grit, innovation, and a willingness to sacrifice for one another and for future generations. When we lose sight of these, we wander into exploitation and crisis.”
My own opinion is that, as a people, we have been led astray in recent years from the values so powerfully affirmed, first by those who signed the Declaration of Independence and then by countless others since. Consider Lincoln’s heartfelt aspirations in his Second Inaugural Address: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
President-Elect Biden and his team would be well-advised to read or re-read Lincoln’s compelling vision.
Let’s have Scott Galloway conclude this brief commentary: “America isn’t ‘what it is,’ but what we make of it.”