solana115_Antonio MasielloGetty Images_doctors covid-19 Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

Our Finest Hour

Over the coming weeks, much will be at stake collectively, and for some of us also individually. Today, uncertainty about what the post-pandemic world will look like is rife, but we do know it will be built upon the words and deeds we choose now.

MADRID – As many readers may know, I am currently hospitalized in Madrid after having tested positive for COVID-19. My recovery has been slow, but the prospects are encouraging. Although remaining isolated from my loved ones has been unpleasant, it is a relief that these hardships are befalling us in the twenty-first century, with so many tools at our disposal to remain socially connected. More traditional pastimes – listening to music, reading, and, indeed, writing – have been a gift as well.

For many hours, I have relied upon a distinguished companion to endure this confinement: none other than Winston Churchill. I have always been fascinated by the wartime British prime minister, and these days I have been able to discover new details about his life, thanks to an extraordinary biography by the historian Andrew Roberts.

Churchill’s admirable resilience throughout World War II is an endless source of inspiration, particularly in times like these. His character and track record – both undoubtedly complex – remind us that heroism is compatible with imperfection, that presence of mind is compatible with contradiction, and that courage is compatible with hesitation. Characters like Churchill deserve to be recognized, which is not to say they should be uncritically glorified.

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