The Calm in the Storm

I don’t need to tell you how the news cycle has been. The last ten days have been nothing short of chaotic and unpredictable. Me? I’m not usually one to buy into hysterics. Aside from a couple of extra purchases and maybe a little anxiety (brought on more so by global panic than by the actual threat of virus, I’m sure), my family and I had been continuing business as usual. We continued to go to work. The kids continued to go to school. And we continued to go to the grocery store as often as we usually do.

I’m not sure where the craziness began but I do think that the measures that our governments have put in place, while good and commendable, are exacerbating people’s paranoia. We don’t have such a deadly threat looming over us as what we see in movies, but we’re responding to the threat as if we do.

So let’s put this into perspective.

We are not facing global extinction. The virus itself is not terribly deadly, though it is more so than most illnesses of recent history, and extremely dangerous to the elderly and immunocompromised. The real concern is the burden of having so many sick people, but not enough medical personnel to treat them. All of these drastic measures are in place in order to alleviate that burden, so that those who do have the virus are able to receive the care they need, and more lives can be saved (See 'What does Flattening the Curve mean?' Don’t let the measures scare you. They’re more a matter of practicality than an indication of the severity of the virus.

Alright, now that that’s out of the way, I, like many, have had quite a few thoughts on the current state of the planet. The following is a quick list of the things that have been on my mind as of late. I hope this proves helpful to some.

First, everything going on has actually filled me with such a deep, and almost solemn sense of gratitude. When little luxuries and the comfort of routine begin to slip away, you realize how much you have to lose. And many of us are spared losing the things that matter most. Kids don’t develop any severe case of the virus? What a mercy! We have so much. Unlike previous generations, we can continue to connect with those we love. We have to keep our physical distance but we can still remain close. So let us remember to appreciate this different kind of closeness, and to be grateful for the things we take for granted.

Second, while taking precautions is important and vital, hysteria will actually make the situation much worse. As long as the stores continue to receive shipments, and we’re not in full lockdown, there is no need for panic buying. Make purchases as you normally would.

Third, even though we’ve seen some of the worst of human behavior come to the surface, there have been so many people trying to help however they can. Various organizations are allowing free access to virtual classes, museums, and storytime. Charities and individuals have been looking for ways to help others by making trips to the store for people who can’t, donating items, and just calling up old friends and providing words of encouragement. Everyone is realizing that they have something to offer others. It’s caused me to consider how I can contribute my own time and talents. You too should stop and ask yourself: ‘How can I help?’

Fourth, I do feel the need to address the fact that as fear grows, complacency to injustice can be around the corner as well. This level of fear is dangerous. People do stupid things when they’re scared. Just a couple days ago was the anniversary of the massacre of My Lai during the Vietnam War when soldiers killed hundreds of innocent civilians, including women, children, and babies. The soldiers did what they were ordered to do, resulting in criminal prosecution for the platoon’s lieutenant. What’s worse is that when surveyed, 51% of Americans (while the US was still in Vietnam) said that they would have also followed orders to kill hundreds of innocent villagers.

Psychologist Stanley Milgram surmised that the survey responses “reflected attitudes toward the war itself and indicated general support for the government’s policies.” See Obedience to Authority by Stanley Milgram at nt 28. In other words, people’s subjective feelings can take precedence over objective morality. In times of fear, people look to government leaders to have the answers, and they are willing to kill on command, if led to believe that doing so is for the common good. The fear and paranoia currently experienced throughout the world is indicative of the possibility that some form of injustice is on the horizon. Let us be ready to face it and call it what it is.

Finally, keep your eyes fixed on the source of all peace. A couple of months ago, I began to add the simple prayer, ‘Jesus, I trust in You,’ to the end of my nightly prayers with my children, not realizing how pertinent it would become. Now more than ever I believe we are being called back to radical trust in God. Just as when Peter took his eyes off Jesus as he walked on the water and began to sink, many in our world have used this time to look to the superficial, instead of to Jesus. Those of us who keep our eyes on Him will be able to feel His calm even in the midst of turbulent waters. While the whole world turns outward to external things, I am happy to continue to feel His peace, knowing that He is in control.

I can almost hear Him snapping His fingers at us saying, “Hey! Eyes on me.”



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