Looking to the Future in a Time of Crisis

  • Published March 19, 2020
  • / By L. Timothy Portwood

As we all come to grips with the enormity of the COVID-19 pandemic, worry about our health and the health of those we love, contemplate the impact on jobs, the stock market, and the economy, and learn to adjust our daily lives to the new realities of social distancing and sheltering-in-place, it is worth remembering that this is not the first time our nation (and our world) have faced crises.  We can draw inspiration from how those who came before us dealt with the challenges of their times.

During the Civil War, Congress passed, and Abraham Lincoln signed into law:

  • The Pacific Railroad Act, which authorized construction of the transcontinental railroad from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean (July 1, 1862 – the same day that the Seven Days Battle concluded near Richmond, a mere 100 miles from Washington, D.C.)
  • The Land Grant College Act (aka the Morrill Act), which created many of our finest public universities (July 2, 1862 – only two months before the Second Battle of Bull Run)
  • The enabling act to establish the National Academy of Sciences, which provides independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology (March 3, 1863 – the same day the First Conscription Act was enacted and just four months before the Battle of Gettysburg)
  • The Yosemite Grant, which preserved Yosemite from exploitation and development and foreshadowed the future establishment of our national parks (June 30, 1864 – less than one month after the Battle of Cold Harbor)

Just a few years later, in the devastating aftermath of the Civil War and during the turbulence of Reconstruction, the Alaska Purchase was completed (October 18, 1867).

Even in the midst of an existential crisis and unfathomable bloodshed, our nation was looking forward to the future with optimism and confidence.

Let us do so now, even as we focus on the immediate crisis at hand.

Our clients are working to find solutions to many of the challenges that brought this crisis about – epidemics and pandemics, climate change, environmental degradation and deforestation, and growing inequality, to name just a few – as well as myriad other problems facing humanity.

Our clients are striving to create a better future for people and for our planet.  Our mission at Marts & Lundy is to help them do so through the power of philanthropy.

Now is the time, not only to address the current situation, but also to look to the future with optimism and confidence.