April 11, 2020

Dear Hope Nation,

For the six months before we set sail on the seas of During the pandemic, I’d stayed off Facebook, not with some sacred vow but because I’d discovered what a huge time vacuum it was for me. Being isolated from most of the world—outside of my oldest and youngest daughters, my friend Tara and her son, and Lucy, my dog, I haven’t been in the same room with anyone for at least the past couple weeks—I decided it was time to return to America’s Yearbook. I may rethink that soon.

Promise this isn’t going to be an anti-Facebook rant. The platform is a good way to see what my one-thousand closest friends, even if I don’t remember where I met them, are up to. My problem is Facebook’s memetic and copycat nature. I see the same puzzles over and over, looking like algebra but having a “trick.” I see promises that if I hit the letter “c” 212 times I’ll have a vision of some kind. I see people begging to say brutally mean things about me if I send them my name. Mostly I see people who have been “tagged” by others to do things like:

–Name a song with the letter “d” in the third word
–Write an adjective that begins with the tagger’s initial.
–Show the 37th picture on their camera roll.

This tagging business annoys me, but not enough to prevent me from using it right now. Let me explain.

Out of the blue last night, I got a call from an old student of mine, Roger Wilkins. Roger knew me almost 30 years ago, when he was a teenager and I was a younger old man than I am now. According to Roger, when he was my student I had a life-changing conversation with him. Since he is now an admirable man, a fine father and a successful political consultant, I’m glad for any small part I may have played in steering him in the right direction. (Full Disclosure: Roger is a Republican consultant working on conservative campaigns and for conservative issues. I am radically moderate and hopelessly bipartisan. Still, I honor anyone who devotes his or her life to trying to make a difference.)

Roger’s call brought me great joy, for who doesn’t like to hear from someone with positive regard for them, and a fair amount of sadness because Roger is separated from his children because of all this mishegas. Roger’s kids live in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, as does he when pandemics don’t close down the world. Until this is over, Roger and his children have to make do with FaceTime and the like. Please, if you’re a praying person, pray for all of them. If you’re a focusing positive energy type, please bombard the Wilkins family with love. Thanks.

The annoying tagging mentioned above? Instead of using Facebook, I’ll rely on this letter and challenge you to remember someone who’s helped make you the best part of yourself, and pick up the damn phone and call them. Just remind them of how much they’ve meant to you and say a simple thanks. To begin, I’m going to call my mentor, Mark Roth, as soon as I’m done with this.

While I’m not going to check up on you, I’d love to hear about you experiences, either by email or text (contact info below.) Let the people who have mattered to you know they still matter, just like

You matter. I matter. We matter.

Keith

Keith.howard@recoverynh-org
(603) 361-6266