Humility in the face of the virus is not a strategy. But it is a necessity.

by Bob Schwartz

We are seeing all sorts of people and initiatives at the forefront of the response to the virus. Some are brilliant, some stupid. Some knowledgeable, some ignorant. Some arrogant, some humble.

Humility in the face of a towering task is not acceptance or surrender. As in all aspects of our lives, it is recognition of our limitations while we work tirelessly to transcend those limits.

Among the many examples of this, I am thinking of all the work and talk about a vaccine. There is over optimistic talk about the practical possibility of a safe and effective vaccine being widely distributed by end of year or shortly after, an unlikely long shot. Then there are those experts who want to maintain hopeful realism based on past experience with developing vaccines and on how relatively little we know about a virus that first appeared only months ago. That realism isn’t just less than optimistic; it is added weight to already crushing circumstances.

Humility is always needed and always in short supply. Which is why every one of our religious traditions incessantly promotes it. It is not a paradox that we are at our greatest when we are at our least. It is the character of living, as best we can, the complex and elusive reality of paradise here and now.