Letter: 'Times change, and we change with them'

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To the editor:

In the swirl of unexpected and often dire pronouncements surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, it's hard to find perspective.

It brings to mind the upheaval that a previous generation felt when they found themselves in the midst of a world war. My European parents were teenagers at the time. Almost overnight, or so it seemed, their carefree teenage years were gone. Social events were cancelled, food and household staples were hard to find, streets were deserted, and families struggled to cope with economic losses. The frequent air raid drills and darkened streets at night were a constant reminder of the war raging around them. In spite of all these disruptions, they found ways to keep their spirits up.

A generation later, my world was changed when I arrived at my carefully chosen liberal arts college. The war in Vietnam was increasingly unpopular, prompting protests on college campuses nationwide. My school was no exception. To my utter dismay, the college decided to toss out the traditional curriculum that semester. Classrooms were abandoned in favor of outdoor settings where teachers and students sat facing each other to discuss their feelings and current events. It was all so strange and unsettling.

Looking back, I realize how useful that experience was for me. It taught me that change happens, no matter how carefully you plan your life. It allowed me to put my traditional views aside and imagine myself in someone else's shoes, even if I didn't agree with them. It gave me valuable skills that still come in handy, especially today.

The late Robert Newman, who served as the Berkshire Athenaeum's director for many years, had a wise saying that he liked to recite in Latin. Translated, it is "Times change, and we change with them." A valuable perspective to keep in mind as we all strive to find healthy and meaningful ways to cope with our new reality.

Claudine Chavanne,

Lenox

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