Navigating the times ahead

A letter from Hayden Anderson

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As we all become accustomed to our new patterns of maintaining physical distance, we at the MHC will continue to develop and support effective strategies to strengthen the civic ties which hold us together.

This morning in Maine, much of what we know to be true about the value of bringing people together feels upended. Gatherings that in normal times are a sign and a source of community wellbeing now seem risky, the community vulnerable.

And yet it’s clear that in this moment when physical distancing is necessary for public health, strong social connection remains essential for our civic health.

We at the Maine Humanities Council have been thinking about colleagues and partners keeping on with their work in the face of significant hardship.

We’re thinking of our friends in places like Seattle and New York, in Italy and Spain and Iran and China — of people and organizations we may not know by name, but who share our mission and core commitments, who use tools like poetry, literature, and history to bring people together for discussion and exploration of our shared humanity.

John Dewey, the great philosopher of American democracy, writes that “the ties which hold [people] together in action are numerous, tough, and subtle. But they are invisible and intangible.”

As we face the current threat together, we see these ties being made visible in all their toughness and subtlety through the widely shared commitment to physical distancing. The individual choices and behavior of millions of people aimed at flattening the epidemiological curve present a striking example of action and sacrifice taken to protect and advance the common good.

At the Maine Humanities Council, we believe that every Mainer has a part to play in navigating the difficult times ahead, and that each of us can help, however modestly, to make things better. And even as we all become accustomed to our new patterns of maintaining physical distance, we at the MHC will continue to develop and support effective strategies to strengthen the civic ties which hold us together.

We’ll do whatever we can to connect and strengthen Maine communities, even now. Especially now.

 

Hayden Anderson
Executive Director