Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, author of "Hell and Other Destinations: A 21st Century Memoir," on the need for an alliance to gain victory over the coronavirus:
A quarter-century ago, when I was in government, the HIV/AIDS pandemic swept through much of the world. Medical facilities were overwhelmed. Average life expectancy in some countries dropped by 40 percent.
As Secretary of State, I met in Africa with women who had been infected by men who refused to admit they had the disease. I held infants who had just been born ... but who were already dying.
I exhorted opinion leaders to help, but was told by some that it was the victims who were to blame.
Then, gradually, people started listening to what public health experts had to say.
The private sector mobilized. Governments, including that of the United States, commenced to lead.
Today, AIDS is still a serious problem, but no longer a mortal threat to civilization.
The coronavirus presents a unique set of challenges, but the answers are similar.
We need leaders who will take responsibility instead of casting blame; citizens who will respect the safety of their neighbors; corporations that will rise above business-as-usual.
During the Second World War, my father was head of broadcasting for the Czechoslovak government-in-exile.
The program was introduced by a kettledrum playing the first notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony: dah-dah-dah-dum – Morse Code for the letter "V," the Allied symbol for victory.
Today, we must come together in a new alliance for victory over the virus.
That is the message in the pin I am wearing this morning – and my Easter and Passover prayer for all.
For more info:
- "Hell and Other Destinations: A 21st-Century Memoir" by Madeleine Albright (HarperCollins) in Hardcover, eBook, Large Print and Audio formats, available via Amazon
Story produced by Ed Forgotson and Charis Satchell. Editor: Thomas Xenakis.