My dear students,
Let me say this first: I love you — and I hope all of you are somewhere safe right now.
I know this doesn’t find any of us well. This global pandemic has profoundly upended our lives and livelihoods and routines and responsibilities, to say nothing of our capacity to work and dream together to build a better world. The corona crisis has catapulted us into complete chaos, accompanied by a disorienting mix of emotions: fear and despair, anxiety and anger, uncertainty and longing, concern and compassion. If you are like me, you’re experiencing all these things at once on any given day. As one friend put it: “I didn’t realize I could have so many mood swings before my first cup of coffee.” As a historian, I rarely use the word unprecedented — after all, almost everything has some kind of precedent — but I dusted it off last week and have been using it more and more with each passing day. History will have time to take full account of this moment, but first we must survive it.