A couple of weeks ago, as FlexRadio implemented Covid-19 social distancing and work from home across the company, I wrote a letter to our team. It began with the famous quote from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
These truly are the best of times and the worst of times around the entire world in the midst of such sudden and rampant disease and economic uncertainty. For so many this is and will be a time of foolishness, incredulity, darkness and despair. For others this is and will be a time of wisdom, belief, light and hope. What makes the difference? Maybe we are given a clue from a line from John Milton’s Paradise Lost.
“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
One question we all must ask ourselves is do I turn inward or do I turn outward? Do I live in self pity or do I live in compassion and caring for others? Do I personally live in fear or in hope? Even if I am locked in quarantine, how can I turn outward and share what gifts I have been given? This I am asking myself every day.
So how does this all apply to FlexRadio and ham radio in general? This unique circumstance we are experiencing all around the globe at one moment in history makes me realize that we at FlexRadio are not really in the ham radio business. We are actually in the business of bringing people closer together in community. Ham radio was the original electronic social media platform connecting and making friends all around the world. When describing ham radio to others, I often say that it is a worldwide fraternity where we use the “magic” of radio to communicate. Meet another ham anywhere and there is an instant bond of friendship.
One of our greatest traditions is that of Elmering budding hams of all ages. I remember my 9th grade buddy who brought me to his home to experience ham radio for the first time. I remember the physics teacher at my high school who mentored me in building my first 6L6 transmitter and getting it on the air. I remember the friends I made on the Novice bands with my rock bound transmitter that turned into regular schedules. I remember getting to meet those friends over time for eyeball QSOs. Some of those friendships have lasted over decades.
The point is that a big part of ham radio is about community and mentoring others. Sure the technical aspects of the hobby led to my career in technology but that is overshadowed by all the relationships built over the years. In this time of social distancing, ham radio can actually bring us closer together. So what are a few ways we can do that for others around us?
I mentioned Elmering. Wouldn’t this be a great time to reach out to young people who are stuck at home for weeks and introduce them to ham radio? What a great way to help both the kids and their parents. Now they can use their online tools like Smartphones, tablets and their computers by loading SmartSDR to their devices to introduce them to a new world of radio. This is a great way to light a fire in them for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Also, what about that new ham who doesn’t have a HF rig or antenna farm. Is there a way to let them listen or get on the air even in this time of lock down?
This is the perfect time to use the remote capabilities built into SmartSDR with SmartLink and multiFlex sharing to let others share your radio. All they need to do is download SmartSDR and you can give them access to your radio. You might want to set up a special login and password just for that purpose so you can change back to your private login later. Use it as a chance to Elmer someone and build a relationship.
Finally, looking outward, this is a time to pay it forward where we can. There will be millions of people out of work or shut in at home due to this crisis. Food will become a critical daily issue for so many people. We at FlexRadio want to make a difference through a Month of Giving where we will donate a portion of every radio sale for the month of May to Meals on Wheels Central Texas. We will also be contributing a company match to the funds generated. And we encourage our employees and you to directly give to this important cause. Meals on Wheels is a wonderful way to help seniors living at home with their most critical needs. Many individuals in our amateur community may be in need of these services themselves.
The world will be profoundly impacted in many ways through this pandemic. I hope we will each play a small part in making this a time of light and hope.
73 and stay well,