A leader’s job is to always look for it.
“Afflictions sent by Providence melt the constancy of the noble-minded but confirm the obduracy of the vile. The same furnace that hardens clay liquefies gold.”
— Charles Caleb Colton, c. 1820
I just returned from a week in Phoenix. Some time away in the land of perpetual sun gave me an opportunity to reflect, amid early morning walks in the desert.
Yet it wasn’t until my return yesterday that I found the red thread for the week.
Arriving home last night, I realized that today is April 14. A day that always affects my mood.
As a student of history, I’m acutely aware of events of the past. And April 14 marks two solemn occasions less than fifty years apart: the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, who was shot on the evening of April 14, 1865 at Ford’s Theater, and the sinking of the Titanic, which struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic at 11:40 pm on April 14, 1912.
Every year, I reflect on the events that led up to and resulted from each of these two tragedies, feeling a sense of sadness and loss, but also contentment and hope in their aftermaths.
How is it possible that the tragic death of one of America’s greatest presidents and of more than 1,500 souls could be something to evoke any kind of positivity?
In short, there is hope and positivity in nearly everything, if you are willing to look for it.
The Chickens Knew
In On the Banks of Plum Creek, the fourth book in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series, the family was beset by a plague of grasshoppers. As they fell from the sky, the grasshoppers enveloped everything on the ground and began eating their way through trees and wheat fields.
Yet there was a glimmer of hope: the chickens, who normally were used to chasing grasshoppers around the yard and not catching them. But in the deluge, they simply stretched out their necks and consumed insect after insect.
Laura’s mother managed to see the silver lining in the cloud of grasshoppers:
“Well, we won’t have to buy feed for the hens,” said Ma. “There’s no great loss without some gain.”
“The disaster takes care of everything.” — Maurice Blanchot, 1980