President’s Perspective: Walking into the Unknown

Today marks one year since we walked out of the MSP building and into the unknown. As I reflect on that day, I’m glad I didn’t know then what I know now. It would have been too much to take in; too overwhelming and potentially paralyzing.

Instead we have adjusted to pandemic life in stages. I’m reminded of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and, finally, Acceptance.

Yes, we have been grieving. We experienced the Denial of the seriousness of the virus and the severity of what we faced. For me, that period of denial was followed by intense Anger – at the disease, its effects on so many, and especially at the mismanagement of its spread. Bargaining for our loved ones’ lives occurred in homes and hospitals, as many of us stood by helplessly while family members and colleagues fell ill and died. How could we not be Depressed, as we sat in isolation and witnessed exhausted essential workers hanging on by a thread?

At this one-year anniversary, I suppose we have arrived at a form of Acceptance. By acceptance I don’t mean acceptance of the illness or the disturbing way in which this pandemic played out. Rather, we have come to accept that it is a part of our daily experience, that our lives are forever changed in ways in which we cannot yet imagine. 

Throughout this time, I have been amazed by the resiliency of our community as we marched forward in actualizing our mission. What matters most remains, even when we were forced to loosen our grip on the usual structures that allow us to feel safe. We learned about the importance of self-care and drew strength from our relationships with our innermost circle of family and friends.

And in an extraordinary year of challenge and grief, what seemed impossible became possible. As a humanistic community, we are reminded of the strength of the human spirit, and the power to grow.