Yes, the change must come from each of us

Writing to The News is always a bit of a crapshoot. I never know if I’ll be able to make my point and I don’t get to use special dice like Big Jule in “Guys and Dolls.” Still, nothing ventured, etc., as the kids (?) say.

I am struck by Anne Gentry’s essay in Thursday’s News. I could not agree more that what we all need, right now, is change. Change from an almost lethally toxic domestic political climate. Change from the unwillingness of some to accept the truths of science. Change from a society increasingly distrusting of and disdainful toward any real academic or artistic achievement. (One recalls President Kennedy hosting the American Nobelists at the White House, saying, “This is the greatest collection of intelligence in this room since Thomas Jefferson dined alone.” One cannot imagine the current president doing anything similar).

Change from our fear of and hostility toward anyone whom we view as the “other,” for whatever reason.

Ms. Gentry is right: the events of this past year reveal that we have a lot of work to do. And it is we who must do it. As Cassius tells Brutus, “The fault … is not in our stars/But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” We can choose to be different. We can choose to make our circumstances different. We can choose to be more charitable and sympathetic toward others. What we cannot do is wait for circumstances or the prejudices of others to cause the change we claim to want.

In this, Voltaire is wrong to say that “Men have been, are and will be led by events.” Rather, it is men, it is all of us, who have brought about the present calamity. It is all of us who can change it.




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