by Newt Gingrich
According to the pandemic experts, we are in the heart of the crisis.
The next few weeks will see a substantial increase in American deaths even as the virus begins to be isolated and lose momentum.
For many families, there will be anguish and a deep sense of loss.
For communities, there will be a sense of grief as the virus takes its human toll.
Americans have suffered grievous loss before. The surgeon general cited Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He could have added the battles of Antietam and Gettysburg, the cost of the Normandy campaign, and the Army and Marine losses to the Chinese Communist offensive in Korea in the winter of 1950 to 1951. Americans have suffered losses going all the way back to Gen. George Washington’s long, painful winter at Valley Forge during the American Revolution.
And after each cycle of loss, there has been a rebirth of the American spirit, determination to build a better future, and deep belief that we Americans cannot be defeated or conquered. Instead, we have a compulsion to work toward a bigger, better, more fulfilling life for our children and grandchildren.
The great novelist William Faulkner captured this spirit in his 1950 Nobel Prize acceptance speech when he said:
“I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will still endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking.
“I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.”
We must once again call upon this American tradition of overcoming challenges.
A few weeks ago, we had the strongest economy in American history. A few months from now we can have an even stronger economy. As the entire world gears up after the pandemic, there will be a real hunger for American medical breakthroughs, American health technology, and all the capabilities of the American system to respond to market opportunities.
Americans should be encouraged right now to start thinking about the next four or five years. What do you want to be doing? What do you want to achieve with your life? What have you learned from this experience that can lead to a more productive and fruitful life?
We need to remember the Declaration of Independence’s promise that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This still applies to every one of us.
So, as you spend these last few weeks of sheltering in place, take stock of what pursuing happiness means to you and the people you love. Start making plans for how you and yours are going to pursue happiness the minute we defeat the virus.
Remember President Ronald Reagan’s favorite line, “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
That is the optimistic, buoyant, happy way we should approach the world after we have defeated the virus (and we will defeat it decisively).
We will get beyond the crisis, and we will be bigger and better than ever.