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We can remove two years of shadows with the light of truth, friendship and community

We know the saying about March: It comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. There’s still time, but recent days feel more like the lion we’d like to forget about than the lamb returning with a longer glimpse of spring.

Our local public works folks did their normal yeomen’s work in clearing the major arterials, so getting to work during those days with school called off wasn’t too bad — once I got out of my neighborhood. As always, those streets are the last to melt. What I noticed this time was the pattern left down my street in the ensuing days: It was clear and bone dry in some places, packed ice in others. Same street. The difference, though, was the shadows. Where trees were well off the street, and sunlight and warmth could get in, things melted rather quickly. Where the dark shadows loomed, however, it took days longer to get the ice and snow off.

It has been two years since the pandemic started here in our region. There have been lots of shadows looming over us during that time. Many have felt lonely and isolated while living in the dimness caused by working from home, cancelled social events and postponed weddings. We are leery of misinformation and manipulation from dark money, the dark web and murky intentions.

Roger Cohen of The New York Times wrote recently: “A break has occurred in the world where people are corralled into herds by social media algorithms, trolls and bots. Where they forsake community to become tribes with megaphones. Where they turn in circles, succumbing to technological neuroticism. Above all, where they grow lonelier, caught in a vortex, starved of connective tissue, hungry for status, often bereft of moral conviction.” It was darkness that provoked a decision of one country to invade another sovereign one at great cost. Where light is not allowed, hearts and minds harden.

We have asked the question often here at CFO: How do we recover from a pandemic? Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. These two years have often seemed like two decades. We’ve taken this moment to look back across the two years through a special report featuring the reflections of community leaders from here in Springfield, along with a recounting of how our grantmaking at the CFO evolved — and will continue to evolve as we consider how we, as a community, can heal.

In my own reflections, I think healing first involves removing the shadows from our lives, and bringing in light — the light of truth, the brightness of friendship, and the illumination that is love and understanding. We are hopeful this pandemic might not cast the same dark shadow over us going forward, and we can start thinking of the future. What that future will look like us is up to us.

Brian Fogle is the President and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

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