“Young men, never give up!” so said Winston Churchill on October 29, 1941, to the Harrow graduating class, his alma mater from which he almost flunked out. Then he turned from the podium and sat down. After an interval, he returned to the microphone and in louder tones, repeated,” Never give up!” Then, returned his seat. Still another interval passed and the admonition voiced in even louder tones, “Never give up – never-never-never-never-give up!” Again, he resumed his seat on the platform with the dignitaries. He had no more to say.

The mood in that hall must have been uneasy, given the likely expectation for more consoling words from their Prime Minister. Yet, they were sparse, stringent, intended for high school boys already experiencing the horrors of World War II. That this commencement address should still be remembered says much of Churchill’s reading of the times.

Our times, too, are harrowing, with Covid 19’s continuing menace. Who could have imagined global losses of life and health, of income and business failures, of the shuttering of performing arts and sports venues, stressed families, and the 24/7 possible sting of infection, even with recommended protections. True, vaccines are reported in the near future, but grief has had its way with us: The wound still weeps.

That we are all changed is certain—more resilient, mindful, even compassionate toward others. But how and when shall we begin formulating fresh ways to view ourselves as individuals and communities? Incorporating what’s been useful from the experience and moving on? Will another Churchill rise from the ashes for our times—perhaps from our own resources? Is he/she already here?