Many of my friends and family members are very upset about what’s going on with the virus and the government’s stay-at-home orders. Some are really angry that they’re losing their job or businesses, some of which have been lifelong investments. Others are angry that the deadliness of the virus is not being taken seriously enough. Some of them have lost loved ones or have loved ones who are particularly at-risk. Others are healthcare workers who are not only putting themselves at risk but also having to watch patients with covid-19 die alone in the hospital. Seems like we’re starting to see each other (rather than the virus) as the enemy. I feel stuck in the middle, and I empathize with the heartache and pain on all sides.
Oh, the things that polarize us – even in our own friend and family circles – it breaks my heart. This spring, after a pretty successful “stay at home” season (we’ve bought some time for developing the medical infrastructure needed to fight this virus), the latest move to get people back to work has caused an uproar on both sides of the issue. Feelings run so hot, and being “right,” even hotter. The need to be right over all else can deal a devastating blow to even close relationships.
Some believe it is too soon to open up the economy. They feel strongly we need to allow more time to further flatten the curve before we begin reintegration into the workplace, and public places in general. They are concerned for those who are the most vulnerable to the virus. They fear that reopening the economy prematurely will give people the false impression that we’re on the other side of this thing, and that people will jump back into life as usual, ignoring continued social distancing protocol. Bottom line, they are concerned that the virus will attack with renewed vigor once people are out and about again. Those who feel this way are not rooting for a nationwide financial collapse. They are not without economic understanding and sympathy. They are afraid…and deeply concerned for those who are most at risk.
Then there are those who are watching their ability to get back to work slip away with the passing days. For many people, two months without income is a flying leap towards financial ruin. Business owners are continuing to pay bills without revenue, and are watching their assets drain away. Some small businesses have closed permanently, leaving owners unable to provide for their families. Just because a state government starts slowly reopening businesses does not mean state leaders and voters don’t value the lives lost and threatened by the virus. Just like everyone else, they are afraid…and deeply concerned about the consequences of a failing economy.
We need to take a collective deep breath and extend grace and compassion to each other. We need to remember that we’re all heavily burdened with fears, losses, and heartaches right now.
Let’s not get sucked into disparaging each other, but rather find ways of lightening each other’s burdens. As believers, this is a huge opportunity for us to be the light in the world. Let’s reach out to those who are suffering, and encourage those around us to do the same.
No matter how we’re feeling, or how our neighbors are feeling – we are not each other’s enemies. We are fighting this together and no one wants further loss of lives or a crumbled economy. Our experiences and emotions might be different, but our objective is the same. We are all trying to protect what we love as the pandemic attacks our country.
As Christians, our instructions are to “ in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) Let’s care for the interests of those who are at risk by doing what we can to respect social distancing and other protective measures. Let’s also care for the interests of those who risk losing their livelihoods by supporting them and looking for ways to do business more cautiously.
We are stronger together.
So far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. –Romans 12:18 (RSV)