Grim's Tales: Historically, it's been shown that challenge brings opportunity
I feel pretty safe assuming everyone is sick of COVID-19 and its impact on, well, everything. So I kind of don't want to write another column that even touches on the subject, but this might be worth sharing.
Human history is thoroughly seasoned with big events like this. Often the events that create challenges create certain opportunities. Red Hot Chili Peppers wrote the lyric, “Destruction leads to a very rough road but it also breeds creation." Going back even further, in the 1949 masterpiece, “The Third Man,” Orson Welles explains how chaos, in this case war, can lead to invention.
Welles' character, Harry Lime, says: “In Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had 500 years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”
Now, I'm not saying COVID-19 is a good thing, but I am saying that history has many examples of hard times bringing out bursts of human creativity and inventiveness, and I think we have opportunity for that now.
Thanks to social media I have already seen that local author Jacob Moses said he has already written two sequels to his first book, “Exit Lights,” thanks to these strange times. In the medical world I'm sure there has now been a flood of new tools and techniques, particularly in the realm of ventilators, that we will all benefit from going forward.
Perhaps George R.R. Martin could use this time to finish the last book in his “Song of Ice and Fire” book series. A guy can dream.
I think we can also look at these times as an opportunity to apply our inventiveness to creating opportunities that might benefit our local businesses and economy as a whole. Many missed the cash flow from fishing season, and, of course, the same will be true for Memorial Day weekend. But how many have stopped to think that Memorial Day, and many more of our holidays, was created because of trying times like this?
Before it had a name, Memorial Day hearkened back to freed slaves honoring the sacrifice of Union soldiers in the Civil War by cleaning their graves - graves those same slaves were often responsible for digging and marking. Later it expanded to other wars.
Thanksgiving was created to celebrate temporary respite from starvation. Labor Day celebrates the fight of U.S. workers for rights and protections. I have long suspected Valentine's Day was built up as a holiday in part to bolster plant sale businesses after a long winter of struggle.
If you want to look more locally, look no further than Bemidji, where the Winter Carnival sprung up to bolster local businesses against the Great Depression. Coincidentally, they started a state tradition of using Paul Bunyan as a larger than life advertising icon. Hackensack used Lucette in the same way. Kelliher used Paul's grave in the same way, and so on.
Do we need a new global or national holiday? I don't know, but could we use one? Bring it on! So many holidays were created to celebrate the end of something bad, or to encourage a boost to economies, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate than the end of COVID-19.
No, I'm not advocating grouping tons of people together while the coronavirus is still going around, but there will be some point in the future when something will change. Either restrictions will be lifted, new cases will drop below a major threshold or a vaccine or effective treatment will be found. We should defer to epidemiology experts on what that change is.
Something will happen that will make this more manageable, and life will be ready to get back to normal. When that happens, I think it would be within our best interest for all of us to throw open our doors, flood our local businesses with cash and party like it's New Year's Eve and the whole world is Times Square.
If we're going to do that, we should start planning now. The big question is, what do we call it? Reunion Day? NO-VID Day?
Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Travis.