The pandemic is a difficult experience for all of us. The longer it goes on, the harder it gets to stay disciplined. The good news is that we are making progress in limiting the impact of the virus and communities are starting to relax restrictions in phases. This does not mean that we have reached the finish line. The medical experts warn that we are a long way from defeating this disease. The most important thing now is to maintain our discipline. This is tough as we are all tired of living in a world where we can’t have the social interaction we desire.
It is our individual discipline that has gotten us to where we are today. If we lose self-regulation, we risk going backward and winding up in a more restrictive situation. Just what we don’t want. I have often seen this in my 40-year military career, where given life or death situations, or with mission accomplishment on the line, some did not have the discipline or willpower to continue doing what had kept them and their colleagues safe. When discipline broke down in these situations, the outcome was predictable and dire.
Our ultimate success is also a measure of our own compassion. Noted columnist and author David Brooks stated on “PBS NewsHour” on April 17 the way to overcome this pandemic is to exhibit social solidarity and surrender to the common good. This is not easy in America, where our individualism is prized. But when we are all challenged by a complex virus, we have to come together in ways that we have not had to do for most of our lives. We have to follow state and community guidelines. Yes, it is tough, but it is the only rational choice.
Kansas State University has an important mission. It is critical to individual success and the economic health of our nation. We want to return to in-person classes as soon as possible. Please be a part of the solution by staying mentally tough and disciplined. We are only as strong as our weakest link — none of us want to be the weak link that pushes us back to greater restrictions.
We started early in the pandemic urging our students, faculty and staff to be “K-State Strong.” Their resiliency has been amazing. Now is the time for all of us to stay disciplined and strong for the sake of each other.
Richard B. Myers is the president of Kansas State University. From 2001-2005, he served as the 15th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was the principal military adviser to the U.S. president, secretary of defense and the National Security Council.