I am sick of Covid! How about you?
If it is not bad enough to be in the midst of a pandemic, now somehow the act of wearing masks has become an event that is ripe for civil disobedience because it is a person’s “right” to choose whether or not they cover their face to possibly prevent the spread of this disease which is making thousands of people sick (as well as dying).
It brought to mind a conversation I had with an American pastor friend of mine who is serving a three-point parish in Norway. I have several clients who are pastoring multi-point parishes and there is often a competition between them – wanting to make sure that the pastor does not show favoritism. The situations are often frustrating with increasing demands on the pastor to make sure that each church gets the same attention from the pastor. Knowing that my friend serves these three churches in Norway, I asked her what she has to do to keep the three churches happy when they compete for her attention. She laughed and said that it doesn’t happen. I didn’t understand and asked her to explain. She said that since there is a commitment to social welfare in Norway, it has filtered into the culture and there is a basic assumption that she will be giving each of the three churches exactly what they need. There isn’t a competition. The culture permeated the thought process of these congregations. I have literally been thinking about this conversation for years.
Now fast forward to Covid and it got me thinking about this conversation again, thinking about the fact that our country was founded on rebelling against a regime, and we demanded our rights, and we created a bill of rights, and we talk about people not being able to take away our rights. I do NOT disagree with this – I am delighted to live in a country with such rights. I simply have to ask when did the response to this pandemic become more about our rights and less about the health and wellbeing of one another. Don’t get me wrong, please don’t make this a partisan thing – I don’t want to go there – it is not my point.
Back in college, I was taking an international management course and we were tasked with solving an economic problem in a country. I remember asking the professor if he would allow me to write a paper saying that a Christian culture could solve the economic problems of the country I was assigned. He said that if I could make a case for it, it was fine. I was so impressed that he let me do that. Fast forward to today and a world of Covid.
What if we truly put the welfare of others above our own, regardless of what we thought about masks, regardless of whether it is awkward or uncomfortable, regardless of it being your right not to wear one?
What if we all worked together to stop the spread of Covid for the sake of EVERYONE?
If we ALL wore masks, physically distanced and tried to slow our exposure with others, we ALL would benefit, fewer people would become infected, fewer would die, our kids could be safely going back to school sooner, and our economy would recover quicker.
One of my clients was feeling that it is not safe yet to have people come back to worship in person in the building in her area of the country. By the end of our conversation, she had come up with the phrase, “For now, I am willing to be wrong and have you be inconvenienced, than for me to be right, and have any of you get sick or die.”
If you don’t want to look at it as a “right” thing – look at it selfishly in that regard OR look at it as the Christian thing to do, as taking care of neighbor. I know I am probably “preaching” to the converted here but it has become personal. I know people who have become very sick and even died from COVID.
Many of you saw on my personal Facebook page, the fact that I ran over to my neighbor’s house a few days ago after I heard a piercing cry. I feared my neighbor had fallen – but she had heard that her brother had died of Covid. When I go out, I wear a mask because I love my neighbor – not just the ones in my neighborhood – but my neighbor in the biblical sense of the word.
If you read this as a partisan diatribe – you have missed the point. If you read this as a “love your neighbor” sermon – thank you – you have connected with my soul.