Necessity is the true mother of invention. I recall hearing stories of bravery and sacrifice in the aftermath of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. The freeway in Oakland had collapsed and there were people trapped in their cars. Regular folk, some of whom had just been hanging out with a midday brown bag of booze, dropped everything, found extension ladders and climbed up to try to save strangers. And they did.
Necessity can make us all heroes. We see a need, something that unifies us. And we go all the way into Action.
What this reveals is one of our greatest glories but also one of our greatest failings. It seems that we need some cataclysm to be motivated into our true potential, we need some threat of negative consequence to others in order to find our best selves. Otherwise, we plod along questioning ourselves and often abandon purposes.
I see the Covid vaccines as such a moment, a moment of necessity. Here we had all these researchers plodding along looking for a cure for cancer among other things. Getting research grants and doing whatever it is they do to develop a new vaccine.
These are regular people, nothing nefarious about them. They want to help and put one foot in front of another to do so, hoping that they will be a part of something that will change the course of history for the better.
And then the big need comes along and suddenly they went into Action. Things that would have taken years took months. Not because they rushed, but because they were fully alive. They had a mission, a truth to pursue, to save lives right now, to be the one who swims into the river to save a child or into a burning building to save a dog.
Time is mostly a consideration and a lot more can get done when you consider that it must be done.
This is who we are. This is what we do, or can do when necessity mothers invention in us.
Those who cry out that these vaccines are untested, rushed and are, therefore, “experimental,” are laboring under the assumption of normal time, of “slow man,” plodding along, one foot then another. They do not notice that we are in a time of fast man or woman, when we are truly who we are and in a state of action.
I applaud those lab coated geeks, because they dove in and did their best to save us from strange rushing waters. Bravo and Brava.
Peter Kjenaas is an author, screenwriter, theater director, producer, chef, AirBnB host, parent and caregiver extraordinaire. And now he adds travel writer to his resumé as he sets off across the country in a 1971 VW camper bus. But first and foremost he is a caring and productive human who has graciously allowed us to post some of his writings to this site. See his latest book at PeterKjenaas.com, and his travel adventures at Riders on the Storm Bus.