Robert Reich: How Are You? – OpEd


Sincere question: How are you doing these days? 

I ask because almost everyone I talk with is feeling overwhelmed. Putin’s war in Ukraine and his threats to use nuclear weapons, Trump and his henchmen’s (and henchwomen’s) ongoing threats to democracy, the upcoming midterm elections, the bizarre economy, the climate crisis and the natural disasters it’s spawning. 

And much more. 

It’s impossible to block all this out because we’re inevitably affected by it every day –from the prices we’re paying for gas and food, to neighbors and family members who repeat bonkers things they hear on Fox News, to weather that’s out of whack and sometimes menacing, to getting that new booster shot and making sure your loved ones do, too.  

We also feel all this indirectly, through the anxieties and stresses experienced by those we love. They’re not immune to the chaos, either. 

I like to think that you find my near daily messages helpful. Yes, they’re sometimes alarming or grim, but they’re written from a set of values that I think we share. I hope you receive them as if from a friend who gives you a tad more courage, assurance, and arguments about why those values are so important. 

In times like these we also need to take care of each other, and of ourselves. It’s about sustenance — feeding our need to laugh and play, savoring the joy of connecting with those we love, dancing to music that literally moves us. 

A year before my father died, shortly before his 102nd birthday, we took him to the local mall and parked him in his wheelchair just outside a drugstore for just a moment while we bought a few things. When we returned, he was out of his wheelchair, moving his body with perfect rhythm to the sound of Jimmy Dorsey’s 1930s big band, over the mall’s speakers. My father couldn’t speak and could barely see, but he had a broad grin across his face.  

I hadn’t even noticed the music. 

Today, amid all the anxiety and despair, I want to inspire you to hear the music. I guarantee it’s there. 

Please take some time out to be moved.

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

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