Monday Musings…. Pandemic Pandemonium
It’s been an incredible two weeks around the world as we’ve watched entire countries quarantine their citizens and shut their borders. We’ve seen sparse store shelves and tempers flare over the shortage of goods, namely toilet paper. I’m sure that we’d all agree that a crisis brings out interesting behaviours in others. From my perspective, I see people falling into one of four categories.
The first category is the panic stricken. These are the individuals who let their emotions override the logic of the situation. These folks confuse feelings as facts. And to confirm their feelings they will look for any ‘news’ that will validate their worst fears. Their emotional state is just as contagious as the virus, easily spread by contact with those whose equally anxious nature makes them susceptible to doomsday delirium. Paranoia sets in with a lack of trust in authority making the right calls, and in our current situation that means the world, national, provincial, and local health agencies. It’s these panicked people who try to control their predicament by purchasing products in gargantuan quantities to ensure their safety. But this only fuels their perpetual apprehension. They will never feel secure when fear drives every action.
Then, there is the profiteer. These seeming master-minds prey on the aforementioned frenzied folks by buying up supplies they know will be in high demand at such a time as this. Their motivation is pure greed. I guess they’ve never heard that “the love of money is the root of all evil”. Amazon has thankfully shut them down, though not before they’ve made a bundle. We see pictures of them now whining and wallowing in their wares, a small penalty to pay for their malicious money-making methods.
And, then there is the proud. Now, these folks believe they are above the recommendations made by health officials and have no regard for social distancing. Instead, they self-promote their actions of meeting with others, throwing common sense and thoughtfulness towards the vulnerable out the window, as they proclaim their fearlessness. While they may believe they are invincible and have a special dispensation given to protect their health, their very actions can mean the death of someone in their social circle whose immune system might be compromised due to age or infirmity. It is very possible that the proud may not get sick or only have mild symptoms; but for those they come in contact with, those people may not be so fortunate. It’s senseless and its selfish.
The last group are those who are prepared. I couldn’t help but think of the Parable of the Ten Virgins when I first heard about the coronavirus. Half of the Virgins had their lamps full of oil waiting for the Bridegroom, while the other half did not and so were left out of the wedding feast. Now, I’m no theologian, but it makes sense to me that there has always been a call to us to be prudent. You need to be ready, with your lamps full, “because you do not know the day or the hour”. Expect the unexpected is something I’ve often told my students. You want to be wise and not foolish like the panic stricken, the profiteer, and the proud.
When we lived up North, the conditions were often harsh. The nearest hospital and grocery store were an hour and a half away. Power would go out frequently. Roads wouldn’t be plowed for days. There was no internet, no weather alerts. In fact, we didn’t even know when the huge ice storm of 1998 hit and paralyzed a large portion of eastern Ontario and southwestern Quebec. We just chalked it up to another bad winter storm.
We met the challenge of no heat or hydro in our little farm house without panic because we were prepared. We had several cords of wood neatly piled in the basement. We in fact did have oil in our lamps and kept them burning. I could go to the cellar and grab one of over a hundred jars of garden produce I learned to can from reading a recipe book, since I’d had no prior education to show me how. We had a generator to fire up the stove to cook one of our chickens that we raised in the summer and butchered ourselves. We had thought ahead about what we would need in order to survive and never took for granted that we’d have access to conveniences. We were prudent and have kept that same mindset no matter where we’ve lived.
As we listen to the daily news, we know it is going to get worse before it gets better. As the number of contagious cases continues to climb, it will be interesting to watch the panic stricken, the profiteers and the proud people’s reactions. In this last decade, we have embraced and expected same day delivery of everything we consider a necessity: from Amazon Prime shopping to Uber eats to the instant entertainment mogul Netflix. We’ve fooled ourselves into believing that we can have whatever we want, when we want it until…. it’s disrupted by a pandemic. Now the oil is running out and the profiteers are not selling it anymore. And those who believe they are above the rest of us lowly folks and will not contract it, will soon recognize the day of reckoning has come, and they’d be foolish to think they will be spared from the contagion. “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 22:3)
While the situation continues to change as I write this, all is not lost yet. There is still time to prepare. Prepare physically by listening to the health officials and be wise in your social contact. Prepare practically by shopping responsibly so that you have adequate supplies and healthy food should you be quarantined. And prepare mentally and spiritually by turning your mind and heart toward the Only One who can rescue for God is our refuge and our strength. A very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)