As I reread Fitzgerald’s magnum opus The Great Gatsby to prepare my lesson plans for our second week of online learning, it occurs to me that, at some point, an artist has to stop taking in information and start shaping what is felt and known into their own articulation. At some point, the artist has to admit, accept that what is unknown must — for just a while — remain so.
This is not a first world country. Too many of the markers of what makes a nation’s standard of living top-tier are only available for purchase at very high cost for the United States to be awarded a blue ribbon for our quality of life. Potential is not actuality. And the thing that stymies American greatness — again and again, year in and decade out — is the notion that greatness lies in an individual’s ability to exhibit superiority.
Here we are. Without healthcare in the middle of a pandemic and too ill-informed and disconnected to act accordingly when we are being misled by woefully unprepared and shockingly uninterested leaders.
There is potential. Our diversity of experience and perspective, our multiple drives to self-actualize, if they existed within a civic framework built around the interconnected nature of life rather than scarcity and competition, could take us very far. I know that it’s possible.