In a similar way, President Trump’s crisis offers an opportunity for the nation to regain access to our best selves, our fellowship, and our community. It could—it should—shock us out of our petty squabbles and humbly inspire us to see each other in a more generous and gracious light.

And it offers Donald Trump the same opportunity to emerge as a changed person. Imagine if, having been confronted (briefly, we all hope) with a serious illness, the president were to transform into a wiser, more understanding leader. It could bind the nation together and help commit everyone to taking COVID seriously and seeing the pandemic as a shared challenge.

Of course, not everyone emerges from the crucible of sickness transformed. Some people have a heart attack and keep gobbling up fried food and smoking a pack a day. It may be that Trump and his most committed enablers learn nothing and continue to be the kind of people who mock others for taking COVID seriously. Or mock others even for being ill.

But even if President Trump is not capable of discovering his best self, the rest of us still can. And for the rest of the country, the early signs are encouraging.