We have faith we will remain confident and are confident we will retain faith.*
In the fall of 1962, I was driving from Baltimore to Philadelphia with Fernando, a colleague. We were going to attend a conference on dyslexia, a reading disorder that had become a popular topic in both the medical literature and lay media. MacDonald Critchley, a British neurologist, would be delivering the lecture at the day-long conference. What we would learn that day would fit in well with our course of study at the Wilmer Eye Institute where we were studying.
Fernando was from a family of doctors and business people in Valparaiso, Chile. From our earlier conversations, I knew that he loved his country and was a loyal citizen. As we drove, we talked about many things over the two hours. During this wide-ranging conversation, Fernando asked, “Do you have any life insurance?”
“Yes,” I said.
“What is your reason?” he added.
I told him my father-in-law was a great believer in life insurance and helped me get started buying two small policies. He said it was a sure-fire way to create an estate and to take care of your family if you died young. And it was also a safe way to carry out forced savings with a modest return, providing funds for future use. “That shouldn’t be all your savings,” I said, “but it is a good way to start.”
After a brief pause, Fernando turned toward me with a serious look and said, “What you just told me makes me think the thing I admire most about your country is that you have confidence in your way of life. You can make a commitment now and count on the outcome for many years to come. That must make it easy for you to work hard now and look to the future, knowing your effort has a fair chance to be rewarded.”
That hit home and has remained with me for over half a century. As an American, I am optimistic, and I am confident. While our country has been hit with riots, wars, impeachments, hyper-partisanship, inflation, recession, and more—the sustaining force in the United States is confidence. Confidence that the world’s oldest democracy will remain intact to serve all its hundreds of millions of citizens and, when circumstances demand our support, those beyond our borders who are in need.
One year ago, the world was assaulted by an unseen enemy, the COVID-19 virus. For the first time in my life, being a citizen of the United States does not offer a unique privilege or a special reason to expect a favorable outcome. Instead, this virus has unleashed a pandemic affecting all. Marshaling our own forces or calling forth historical precedent cannot guarantee success in fighting this scourge. We can only do what is best for the most.
In this crisis, the humility that accompanies vulnerability and promotes cooperation will prevail—and with this comes strength. Working together, there is a path forward. We can remain confident that we will work diligently to achieve the best possible conclusion buoyed by a feeling of certainty and firm trust. That is faith. And we can have faith based on our core beliefs leading to trust in a favorable outcome. That is confidence.
By Savvy Senior
*Confidence means self-assurance, a feeling of certainty, firm trust, or belief. Faith means the process of forming or understanding abstractions, ideas, or beliefs without empirical evidence, experience, or observation.
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