“I’m really not interested in bipartisan or reaching-across-the-aisle politics. The world is divided right now, and I’m OK with it, because the truth is, I feel like I’m on the right side.”
“… I have nothing to learn from …”
Can you guess the source of each of these quotes?
One came from a person on the “Christian left,” and the other was spoken by an ultra-conservative. Both are responses to anti-lockdown protests outside state Capitol buildings.
Hard to tell who said what, isn’t it? Liberals and conservatives use similar language to promote their ideologies.
Both sides claim they are right and the other side is wrong. Each claims the high road.
The bigger picture
Neither actually travels the high road, though.
Meshawn Maddock of the Michigan Conservative Coalition, which organized the high-profile April 15 “Operation Gridlock” in Lansing, Mich., spoke the first quote, according to Bridge Magazine (bridgemi.com). The coalition organizes activists fiercely loyal to President Trump, Bridge wrote.
The second quote is a Facebook response to a comment I made on the friend’s page. My friend was making a point following a similar protest at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.
Both sides are missing the big picture.
The “lockdown,” more gently called stay-in-place orders, was done for a reason.
The orders are hard economically, which means the protesters have a point, too. But by breaking stay-in-place and social distancing rules, the protesters compromised their own message.
There’s an even bigger picture here. Stay-in-place orders, while they are directed at all of us, are not meant to protect all of us. Some of us are more prone to the coronavirus than others are.
In other words, social distancing is not about you. It’s not about me.
It’s about protecting the most vulnerable among us.
The world unites
Politics, by definition, is divisive, as both of these quotes bear out. But COVID-19, the coronavirus that sparked worldwide shutdowns and subsequent protests, doesn’t care.
The shutdowns are attempting to “flatten the curve” – to reduce deaths from the virus. Most people who get the virus won’t die from it, but enough do that it quickly became a worldwide pandemic.
It’s not about you or me. It’s a worldwide pandemic. The entire world is not wrong to make such a big deal of this, as some conspiracy theorists have said.
One in four positive cases in Ohio are prison inmates, The Associated Press reported this week. Other outbreaks are concentrated in nursing homes. There’s a home 10 minutes from my house where at least 66 residents and 20 staff are infected – the largest hotspot in the entire state of Ohio at the moment.
My parents live in an independent living center. They are in lockdown: No one is allowed in and they aren’t supposed to go out, unless for medical needs.
Overreaction, as the protesters claim?
No. If either of my parents contracted the virus, they likely wouldn’t survive it. Dad has medical issues that would compromise him, Mom’s health is good; both are in their 80s.
When was the last time we saw the world come together like this to fight a common enemy? World War II, possibly, but that was still human vs. human. When was the last time the entire world fought an enemy other than ourselves?
Not in my lifetime, at least.
If we ignored the virus and just let it run its course, it might have gone through the world faster, but it would have been much more deadly, as we saw in Italy, which delayed its response by weeks. It also would overwhelm hospitals far beyond their capabilities to serve us.
So now, we wait.
Schools are closed for the rest of the 2019-20 year. Ohio made that official this week. That forced spring sports seasons to get canceled as well. Barber shops, many restaurants, and a host of other “non-essential” businesses remain closed. Thousands of their owners and employees are filing for unemployment and/or are closing permanently.
Thus, the pretense for the protests.
The alternative, however, is more people dying. Many more. And overwhelmed hospitals.
Prevention is working. Social distancing, masks, staying at home … no news is good news. Prevention means nothing happens. That’s a good thing, not a conspiracy theory.
That’s the best thing.
How and when to open up our states and our country are the questions of the day.
But it’s not about us.
I very likely would survive COVID-19 should I contract it, but my parents possibly would not. That’s why I can’t take the chance to even visit them right now – if I was even allowed to, which I’m not.
It’s not about me.
The virus must run its course – or a vaccine must be created to prevent the virus from being so contagious.
Neither of those has happened yet, so we wait.
The higher picture
And we argue, sometimes impatiently, in actual protests and across social media.
“Christian left” is a political term, as is “Christian right.” Is it even possible today to call oneself a Christian, live that way and not get political about it?
I sure hope so.
The Bible – the non-political version – offers advice like this:
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.
James says God’s standards and the world’s standards are incompatible (James 4:4). That’s painfully obvious to me these days. When we focus on ourselves, we fight. We see life our way, and only our way. The other side is wrong.
But everyone has a reason for living the way he or she does, right or wrong. Who am I to judge? That’s God’s job (James 4:12).
By even commenting on the protests, I’ve made judgments. In some ways, that’s unavoidable.
The motive has to be serving the greater good. The virus is making millions of us sick, sometimes without us even realizing it (because of the lack of testing), and has the potential to kill millions of us as well.
The economy drives our country. We make money and spend it. When those options are taken away from us, what do we have left?
Depends who you ask, doesn’t it?
All of us are affected, of course. Some Americans are having a much harder time weathering the economic storm than others are.
We do need to reopen the economy. But the greater good is preserving life, and preventing as much sickness as possible.
I hope and pray that our leaders are strong, and are making science-based as well as economically-based sound decisions.
I’d love to go to a ballgame again. But not if it kills me. Or you.
It will happen, eventually.
In the meantime, let’s not be so divisive. It’s not about you, and it’s not about me. “Truth” is discovered, not inherited.