In my office, just above the light switch by the door hangs a worn brass plaque with the Latin phrase “Illegitimus non Tatum Carborundum” which means “Do not let the Bastards wear you down.” It was a gift early in my legal career, I cannot recall from whom, perhaps my mom. It is the type of gift she would give – simple and meaningful. Count your blessings, my mom said. Take time to slow down and smell the roses. We are all so very blessed, yet often we don’t slow down long enough to appreciate our blessings.
The plaque in my office has not always had such a prominent place. One day as I was “decluttering” I rediscovered it and took a moment to read it and think about its words. In our busy days it is easy to let negative events wear us down. It is easy to become jaded and cynical.
The day our county mayor issued the order closing restaurants and bars due to the Coronavirus pandemic, a friend of mine and I walked across the street from our office to Monty’s for lunch. We ate at the bar and got to talking to the bartender toward the end of lunch. It was her last day of work for an indefinite time, yet she was not sad or downbeat. A single parent who supports herself and her daughter mostly through tips, she was looking forward to spending more time together. Her resilience was inspiring. Stories of human kindness and generosity during this difficult time abound. Neighbors who exercised in silence and anonymity are greeting one another. Families sheltering at home are turning it into quality time together.
America has faced insurmountable challenges time and again. The American Revolution, the Civil War, two World Wars, the Holocaust, and more recently, 9/11, just to name a few. In each instance, we have risen to the challenge and afterward, like the Phoenix, we have risen from the ashes. No matter the crisis, like the enduring lore of the Phoenix, from Latin mythology to the Harry Potter novels, the American spirit knows no bounds and will prevail. We will all rise again from the ashes together, stronger and better for the experience.