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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 6/23/20




That says it all. It’s the simple things that matter…

For 102 straight days, beginning Saturday March 14th, I have been writing this crazy conglomeration of ideas, book and movie reviews, poetry and music selections, and musings.

This started out as a way to communicate with lots of friends all at once. In the process, it has been my hope that this could create a bit of community out of the craziness around us.

I hope in some small way that these missives continue to provide a little levity, some distraction, a few interesting links to the art that civilizes us, and a tiny bit to think about. For me, it has been gratifying to keep in touch with a pretty remarkable community of friends. The emails I have received have brightened my days. Your advice, recommendations, corrections, musings, agreements, and disagreements, all remind me of how fortunate I am to be associated with such fine people.



The world is quite different from how it was in early March. While we had heard of the crazy disease that started in Wuhan and gripped Italy, who among us really believes how much our world would be upended in these past 100+ days? Certainly COVID-19 has been a watershed moment in history—a disease that has changed our way of life in ways that would have been inconceivable back then. The world before COVID already has receded into the realm of nostalgia. While things eventually will be “back to normal,” they will never truly be the same. But, while all loss diminishes us, our resilience and our flexibility to change will enable us to emerge stronger.

Then in the middle of all this, we had to confront a wave of emotion, self-reflection, and accountability in response to racial inequality and injustice, sparked by the brutal murder of George Floyd. While there has been vandalism and looting in the margins, and maybe even statements by some that might offend, the protests that have emerged from this tragedy by and large have been peaceful and constructive, impelling positive change.

The protests remind me of a pearl of advice given to young writers trying to improve their craft: “show, don’t tell.” I believe in many ways the power in the protests and outpouring of critical analysis is akin to holding up a mirror to each of us. One doesn’t need a narrator to see the wrinkles, blemishes, and imperfections looking back at us. It is important that we all reexamine how our society is ordered and consider the mid-course corrections needed to come a little closer to the American ideal.

I don’t believe confronting the failures of our past is a rejection of all that preceded us, nor do I consider it an indictment of this imperfect, yet great, country that has evolved over the years. There is much to admire about the ideals upon which this nation was founded. And there is much to admire in our struggle to be better, to provide a light among the nations, to expand democracy, to help those in need. But there are moments of shame, some of which continue to this day, which demand that we reflect and act. Neither narrative—the one of a flawless civilization, always right, or the one of a fundamentally flawed nation, is completely true. But it’s better than most and striving to be better still. “Better than most” may be all we can ever hope to be, either as nations or as individuals. “Better than most” also means we will continue the American experiment and hopefully become better still.



Make no mistake about it, staying in the bunker more than venturing outside is still the best course of action. The thrill of doing things again must be balanced against the real risk that has not abated. The Sonnenbergs are going to remain cautious, do our socializing outdoors, not get on planes, and try to avoid what serious illness in the face of a healthcare system that will be strained again.

It’s not an accident that many universities have shifted their academic calendar so the first semester ends at Thanksgiving. With the benefit of medical and scientific advice, they seem to believe that, until there’s a vaccine, the winter could be ugly. Let’s be careful out there. As Blythe Maling suggests, “let’s let science be our guide.”



The Musings will go on! There is so much more to say and so many problems to solve! Seriously, I love doing this but a daily newsletter is a major commitment (and also presents you an unending fire hose of emails. So, while I’ve enjoyed every minute of writing these, I also want to keep it fresh and manageable. As such, I’ve decided to move to four days a week (three during the week and one on the weekend).

In the meantime, stay safe and sane. Be careful and stay healthy. Look for the Musings to continue Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, plus a weekend edition. And please send emails with ideas, recommendations and musings from your bunker…

Thanks for your indulgence.

Warm regards,


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