In order to avoid more lockdown fatigue, the focus today is not on the virus, nor is it another attack on the lockdown itself. To be sure, the actions of governors such as Gretchen Whitmer have created mounting needless suffering and death. That sounds like a harsh statement, but as the governor likes to say, the data speaks for itself.
While she and others like her continue to assail us with national and regional death tolls and infection rates, they also continue to sidestep what are, at this point, the overwhelming social catastrophes around us. Massive increases of domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, flooded suicide helplines, and ruined lives speak to the greater pandemic that is not a virus. For that pandemic, these leaders are solely and personally responsible.
But the real alarm should be over what we the people have done to ourselves during this challenge. More deeply, our self-harm is not spreading a virus or disobeying state or federal mandates, it is in how Americans at every level have surrendered some of their most precious areas of life, sometimes, if not most of the time, without stopping to examine the foundations of their surrendering.
First challenge: Have we bowed to fictions and not demanded reality instead? Ponder the example, among others, of our education infrastructure. It has been damaged as never before for fear of children spreading the virus. But the fact is, children rarely even get sick from COVID-19 and even when they do, we now know that they rarely transmit to each other or even to adults. Yet, we have damaged our children’s intellectual and social treasures for a fiction that schools could create a hotbed of resurgence.
Second challenge: Have we allowed ourselves to crown cowardice as courage? Americans have always faced the most horrendous challenges without retreating. Yet, for the first time in our history, we have allowed healthy, vibrant people to be chambered in their homes or to suffer and die alone in hospitals. We call ourselves courageously sacrificial, but accept wildly inflated and inaccurate prognostications that have set our nation on a path of devastated economy and allow the ruin of millions of lives for the sake of a relatively small percentage of sick and dying who so desperately needed all of our focused care.
Third challenge: Have we allowed fear to become an article of faith? What have we done to our souls? On April 27, the U.S. Attorney General William Barr issued a directive to the assistant attorney general for civil rights and others to oversee any policies or practices being conducted that would impinge on citizens’ religious liberties. Finally, in late May, President Trump formally declared religious worship and spiritual life as essential.
What a sad state of affairs. Christians throughout the nation left it for the president of the United States to publicly stand for the most essential part of us, our spiritual lives.
In the opening weeks of the pandemic, faithful shepherds properly followed the directives of civil authorities in obedience to the commands of Romans 13 and in humbly honoring those in authority. But after the first five or six weeks, it became increasingly clear that things were not as they seemed. Grocery stores and hospitals had properly remained open as essential, but the life of the soul, the care of spiritual health and worship was pushed to the periphery of cyberspace. Abortion clinics, liquor stores, and marijuana vendors were given special dispensations as if Americans could not live without them while the immortal core of every human being, their hearts and souls, remained regulated on the same level as merchants and recreationists.
Have the faithful unwittingly sacrificed too much? When scripture commanded obedience and honor toward rulers, we must remember that those same commands were framed in the context of those institutions having been ordained specifically for the preservation of righteousness and justice. It is noteworthy that even in the worst of times and under bloody persecution, the body of Christ, the faithful believing church, never sacrificed its corporate worship and never allowed themselves to be party to the excesses and abuses of those who ruled over them.
It is true that their situation was not predicated on the basis of a pandemic. But then again, is ours? Are not spiritual people perfectly able to protect themselves just as well as the staffs and customers of abortion clinics and pot distributors? Are not those decisions given to individuals by God, the one who ultimately rules?
— Bob Ashby is a resident of Holland. He can be contacted at email@example.com.