Wednesday, April 8, 2020

A Way of Life Threatened in a Nation in Crisis

It is extremely heartbreaking to see the pain and devastation caused by this current pandemic, a crisis that has thrust the entire world into panic and fear. My heart is heavy for those who have lost their lives and the family’s that are left trying to make sense of it all. I am close with two families that have been touched by this deadly virus and it is hard to know exactly what to say or what to do. This is truly a difficult time for so many and certainly life altering for not only them but for all of us.

I can’t help but to think of the additional devastation that is being caused by the reaction to this virus. I am watching family’s being gravely impacted by the shut down of our nations economy. People are losing their jobs. Small business owners are losing their companies. Stress and anxiety are at an all-time high. Almost everyone is being affected negatively in some way.

The long term affects of our nations response to this virus could very well prove to be more harmful than the virus itself. This is not to downplay certain and necessary measures that should be taken. The question is, ‘how far should the government go with intervention into the lives of Americans?’ After all, this is the greatest government intervention since World War II. And according to a recent Reuters News Service article dated March 3rd,

“Already, there are reports that isolation measures are triggering more domestic violence in some areas. Prolonged school closings are preventing special needs children from receiving treatment and could presage a rise in dropouts and delinquency. Public health centers will lose funding, causing a decline in their services and the health of their communities. A surge in unemployment to 20% – a forecast now common in Western economies – could cause an additional 20,000 suicides in Europe and the United States among those out of work or entering a near-empty job market.”

Losing one life to this virus is one life too many! And yet this is true of every disease whether it is COVID-19, cancer, heart disease or the common flu. Of course, COVID-19 is new and there are so many unknowns. Immunities have not had time to build up that will hopefully put this thing into the same category as the flu. But is that acceptable? After all, the flu kills on average 12,000-60,000 people a year. And while the death rate per infected person is higher for COVID-19 than the flu at the moment, that is based upon known cases. The newness of COVID-19 has not allowed us to have accurate figures on the rate of death as of yet. It could be lower or higher and this will be determined as we go forward. The point is, we have had disease with us for thousands of years and will have others introduced to us in the future. We must be able to respond wisely rather than react unwisely. The lives of the infected do matter during a pandemic, but we must also consider how the response to a pandemic affects all lives with regard to physical health, spiritual health, social health and economic health.

As a strong believer in limited government, I am concerned about how some opportunists in our government may seize the moment for their own political agendas. As Rahm Emmanuel, former Chief of Staff for Barack Obama and recent Democratic Mayor of Chicago, once said: “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” My concern is not one sided. I am not so naive as to think that one party has a monopoly on the desire for power over the other. Though I do think that the socialists, which are many and predominant, are tipping their hand. In an election year and a strong economy, it appears the they will do almost anything to use this crisis to undermine the progress made. But conservative capitalists are being compliant by cooperating in a 2.5 trillion dollar handout that will have an immediate gratification effect, but will have devastating consequences on our economy long term. An even worse is the additional bailouts of trillions of dollars coming which will add to the debt and deficit figures too large to comprehend. We are killing our children, grandchildren and the future of our nation at a far greater rate than COVID-19 ever could! This is the result of power hungry politicians on all sides more concerned with the immediate rather than the ultimate.

There are those in the religious world that would take a ‘que sera sera’ position - ‘whatever will be will be’. They would believe that it is inevitable that the world will be undone and ultimately destroyed so that heaven can be realized. But this is not a Kingdom mindset. A Kingdom response to what is happening in the world is to stand up to injustice, work for the flourishing of all humans, and aim to restore the principles of God’s Word to all spheres of life. This will require that we do not fall prey to ‘Normalcy Bias’ and it may require civil disobedience at some point. I am convinced that during this time, the church is being prepared for what may potentially come - an attempt to silence the church and categorize her as a non-essential. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is a serious issue and we should be wise and self-govern ourselves by engaging social distancing, wearing face masks, refraining from public gatherings for a season, washing our hands and coughing into our sleeves. But we must also be aware of the possibility that mandating such things could become a slippery slope of further intrusion into the life of a free society. May God give us wisdom to submit to principled authorities over us in protecting our fellow citizens and our way of life while holding firm to a “Don’t Tread on Me” philosophy if ever needed.

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