I have the benefit of knowing my family history going back several generations. Let me tell you: we have been through a lot.
Here are some of the major events that disrupted our lives:
Pogroms in Russia
The Tsarist Revolution
World War II
We have also endured numerous hurricanes, economic recessions, and the New York City Blackout.
Anyone remember the New York city teacher strike in the 60’s? It lasted for months.
Throw in things like anti-Semitism, gang violence and racial tensions, and you have a nice collection of what we Jews call “tsuris” - troubles.
But of course, every family has its own trials and tribulations.
Which is exactly the point: in some way, shape, or form, we have experienced this before. We have each had our world turned upside down, to some degree.
Granted, not all troubles are the same. I am sure most of us would choose going through quarantine during a virus outbreak, than being marched to our death by fascists.
But even if our suffering is “relatively” mild, it is real and must be dealt with. This is especially true for people under age forty, who up to this pointy probably have not been confronted with much adversity.
I appreciate how experiencing major life disruption for the first time may be tremendously upsetting. If you have no point of reference, life’s challenges can seem very daunting.
The good news is that odds are in your very own family, you have people who can help you get through this. Grandparents, aunts, uncles - and even your parents! - can give you some perspective on today’s crisis. They will tell you that yes, it is big, and yes, it is tough; but so are we. And it will pass, while we march on to a new day.
As I think about the fear and anxiety many people are feeling nowadays, I am reminded of conversations I had as a young boy with my grandmother. She had lived through the Great Depression, and forty years later had still called that time her “days of hunger.” Life must have been very hard for her and her family.
Yet when she recounted that ordeal for me, she always summed up by saying, “But here I am today, with you!”
I can’t think of a better attitude for getting through the tough times.