How often over the last three years have we heard these are unprecedented times? Every day, multiple times a day. Part of the issue is we see ourselves as special. We are the only ones who have gone through times like these.
The Trump-Biden election was unprecedented. It seemed a lot like Bush-Gore, Hayes-Tilden (which is the subject of a wonderful book, To Rescue The Republic by Brett Baier, about Grant’s role in a smooth transition of power after the contested election), and Adams-Jefferson.
COVID-19 is not the first pandemic. There have been pandemics all throughout recorded history: the Spanish Flu of 1918, the Bubonic Plague (or Black Death) in the Middle Ages, the Antonine plague during the reign of Marcus Aurelius.
These facts don’t mean that these events aren’t traumatic. The civil unrest. The loss of life. These past three years have been trying to say the least.
However we are not special. These times are very much precedented. We are just more easily lead to believe we are special by social media and cable news.
We need to realize that by thinking we are special we are letting the situation control us. We are acting as if we are helpless.
We are not. We may not be able to control what happens to us. We can control how we react to what happens to us.
“It’s not what happens to you but how you react that matters.” -Epictetus
By complaining about unprecedented times we are relinquishing control of our response to outside forces we have no control over.
These times are difficult no doubt about it, but if we look back at history there were times just like these that can serve as a template for how we can respond to the difficult things around us. Do not relinquish control to outside forces.