Dialogue Newsletter, March 2020
Not Your Usual Springtime ...
Seasons have a just claim to their special comforts and pleasures: Spring is the time of Pitchers’ vying under palms at a dozen locales in Florida for spots in the starting rotation; of bustling crowds of families on tour jostling for the best view of cherry blossoms circling the Tidal Basin in Washington; of the raucous excesses of a society’s young intellectuals, loosed for a week from their studies, as they flood the eastern beaches The present Spring is a strange one. The joys of old years are displaced by a nervous fear, veering from forced idleness to frantic scurrying about for any shield against the puzzling contagion of the COVID-19, the strangely named germ that has felled, while a small percentage of the world’s populace, a shocking file of victims who have fallen in order around the globe, the bulk of those remaining scarcely wishing to imagine who is next in the line. The remedial measures at hand, conjured by the learned specialists who are attacking the mystery, are seized upon: the isolation, the masks and wiping, the tense listening to the latest numbers and the fresh information on the efforts to cure, and protect, and always the grim fact that the harms are on the rise.
City of Domestic Deserts — To Each Their Own
The embargo on socializing, now in force almost everywhere, has reached every form of congregating, even the sparse flow of customers at the grocery, with a queue outside spaced every two meters. Venues for groups like ours at Dialogue on Diversity have shut their facilities tight against the threat. Our own Public Policy Forum, initially set for late April, is Postponed — the optimistic implication is that one day soon a more salubrious climate will spring back.   We are meanwhile contemplating a variety of on-line approaches to bring our circle of friends and hearers into a semblance of fellowship and common learning. We will transmit by e-mail and internet the news on any events or programs we can manage to launch.
The Severe Pattern — The Gala De-Railed
Outbreaks of novel and mortal sicknesses have scourged human societies from the oldest times. The development of crowded cities, with supply trains across the interstices, has laid the tracks over which the contagions have raced. The plagues of the late Middle Ages have followed the pattern. The influenza pandemic of 1918 again devastated the human infrastructure of the societies of their time. The plague psychology came to be a recurring and fearsome feature of existence. It has its reflection in the serious literature of the respective ages. Edgar Poe in America, writing in the mid- 1800s, in the story Masque of the Red Death, imagined a Royal Ball designed as refuge from the plague ravishing the county. The masked revelers, in the mad excess of the occasion, suddenly, just at midnight, spy the figure of Death in their midst, at first deriding it, but instantly falling dead in their tracks. “. . . even with the utterly reckless and lost, for whom life and death have been equally jests, there are matters of which no jest can be made.”
Lessons Hard to be Learned
In our own time the eminent French writer and moralist Albert Camus, in his celebrated essay La Peste (The Plague, 1947), writes in concluding the history of a deadly plague, perhaps, in part, a metaphor for the political degeneracy that had exploded in the just ended war, “. . . those who were loved and lost, the dead and those to be blamed, all are forgotten. The old folks are right; men were always the same. In that spirit one must rejoin the effort ahead, . . . The crowds are joyful, but the gaiety is threatened. One knows that the joyful crowd, now out of danger, may again fall prey to the mysterious sickness, which lies dormant but ready to strike, sooner or later.” (translation. Editor) The horrors of plagues, as of wars, will at length each be over, but will the chastened society have learned anything? About science, about policy, about social decency in economy, etc? Mr. Camus, who had written these somber thoughts in 1947, was killed in a car accident in 1960. One of the most careful and articulate voices in the Twentieth Century’s turmoil.
The Road Ahead
We see that the sudden, unexpected, and ground shifting explosion of the HEALTH menace that is described above has altered the schedules and the locales of our day to day existence, and for a duration that we can scarcely predict. 
We at Dialogue on Diversity encourage all our friends, in the Capital and around the country, to assess the directions in which the sudden change of our bearings and our environment is to be assessed and analyzed, and to fashion a feasible work schedule with the best of your own current – perhaps much recast – aims, and exploiting the real dimensions of our newly opening opportunities and resources.  A time of crisis, for a country and its political and economic systems – and for individuals – has often been the crucible in which new purposes, and novel creative structures have been devised — structures that may well form a quantum leap over the old infrastructures they replace; and also the chance for individuals to assess their place in a perhaps much altered economic régime.
Meantime our Dialogue will gather our rich resources of ideas and personalities, and seek to design informative and, most important, constructive programs of encouragement and practical inspiration for the talented and energetic circle of diverse and able workers, artists, and legal and economic managers, young persons and retired, who populate our programs and seminars — the cohort that will provide leadership and contact in the often unnerving months ahead. Additionally, we will seek, in the short run, to make available through our internet site any instructions, background information, or handy tips, from the health research and planning agencies of the government and the academic world, and to furnish to our readership updated and useful guidance on navigating the often perilous day-to-day environment. AND — Please let us know of any tips you have discovered that will be useful to your colleagues and friends in the premises.  And do watch your e-mail and our internet site for notices of our programs.
Please stay healthy and informed -- be brave and resourceful; take precautions and protect yourselves as we survive the global virus. Here are some useful resources you can reference for up-to-date information on COVID- 19 status, awareness, and safety measures:
Founded in 1991, Dialogue on Diversity, a §501(c)3 non-profit, is a national network of women entrepreneurs and professionals, actively promoting constructive dialogue among Latino and other ethnic and cultural communities, on social and civic empowerment, with especial emphasis on their economic viability through entrepreneurship.
Dialogue on Diversity, Inc. 1629 K Street, N.W., Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20006
Tel: (703) 631-0650 Fax: (703) 631-0617 Web: www.dialogueondiversity.org , Email: dialog.div@prodigy.net
Dialogue on Diversity, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) Organization, Contributions are tax-deductible.