From The Pastor's Desk
February is known for a lot of things—Black History Month, Heart and Stroke month, Family Day holiday, but probably most strikingly for Valentine’s Day. Our society has made it a day to celebrate romantic love and to market appropriate symbols of it such as “mushy” cards, chocolate, flowers, appropriately shaped baked goods, and so forth. I suppose most of those things can still be found in a co-vid world and, no doubt, you participated in this in some form or other.
This year, Valentine’s Day made me think not just about romantic love, but about love in general. I have been thinking about why the lock downs to prevent the virus spread have been so difficult for everyone. There are probably several parts to the answer to this question but I wonder whether at least a part of it is how really detrimental to our ability to love one another lock downs are. Let me unpack that a bit.
First, I wonder whether lockdowns that do little or no consultation with people at large and that are imposed from the elite “authoritative group” don’t communicate a lack of love. We are all affected by the results but do not get a voice in the decision making. Should our leaders not seek a greater consensus of what is the best way forward? The medical establishment has their voice but where are the social workers, economists and the spiritual leaders of our world? Is this really strictly a medical decision alone?
When we consider the impact of what occurs due to a lockdown, people are left wondering whether the “medicine prescribed is worse than the illness it is suppose to fix.” Not to have a full lock down means more people get sick and in turn more are likely to die. But is it loving to have imposed actions result in devastating consequences such as bankruptcy, financial hardship, families divided and torn apart, and so forth? According to a Global news report, up to 20% of small businesses will close their doors permanently leaving tens of thousands out of work. That number may well be conservative. Even if they do not close, recovery will be difficult given lost clientele, competition from growing online businesses and debt incurred to stay afloat during this time. Has this been thought about by those who make the decision to shut down?
And what about our children and youth who have been kept out of school or forced to learn online? We keep hearing that our “children will not be put at risk.” But is the risk of leaving them out of their normal social networks for extended periods of time loving them? The impact of co-vid is minimal for the young. So how do we appropriately love them during these times? Reports of growing mental health and even suicide rates for the young are truly alarming. Were these impacts considered when their schools were shuttered?
Loving people is about doing what is in their best interests. And love is really about sacrificing our own interests for the good of another. From a Christian point of view, that is what Jesus modeled for us: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” (1 Jn 3:16). John goes on to say in his letter, “We ought to lay down our lives for one another.” How does this need to be lived out in the age of pandemic? I know that sorting this out is not easy. But I wonder whether what is happening today is really expressing love for one another?