I’ve been told what we’re experiencing does not match the precise meaning of the word “pandemic” and we should stop calling it that. Merriam-Webster’s definition says, “an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and affects a significant proportion of the population.”
I still don’t see how this doesn’t qualify as a pandemic, but I suppose the word “affects” and the word “significant” are both elusive enough to make it unclear. While 100% of us have been indirectly affected, those directly affected (that is, who have actually contracted the virus) are one in every 31 Canadians. Is that significant? I’d say so. Then again, stats tell us the number of deaths in Canada from all causes in 2020 was the same as previous years. Confusing, ain’t it?
All I know for sure is, everyone’s tired of it.
And most of us feel caught in the middle. On one extreme, family members are reluctant to leave their homes for fear of catching the virus even though they’ve received the vaccine. On the other extreme, friends are prepared to march with the anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers, openly rebelling against health restrictions. We see people squabbling on social media like little kids. “I’m not scared, YOU’RE scared!”
Between the two sit the majority of us who feel unsafe raising a question, lest we be labelled “anti” something. Don’t we all have questions? Here are four things that confuse me.
1. The House of Commons held a moment of silence for the 13-year-old girl who died of Covid-19. I don’t mean to diminish that family’s pain, but did any other 13-year-old Canadians die that day? That week? This year? This feels like a dangerous precedent.
2. Some faith groups are calling the health restrictions “persecution.” I could buy that if theaters and concert halls and sports stadiums were allowed to fill while churches were not. Be careful what you call persecution. This too feels like a dangerous precedent.
3. I’ve heard the argument that Jesus wants his followers to stand firm before a government greedy for control. After all, didn’t he make a whip to brandish around the temple, standing up for what was right? He sure did. When Jesus did it, he was railing against the religious leadership for exploiting the poor, not at the government for stepping on his rights. When an extremely controlling government sent soldiers to arrest him, Jesus went “like a sheep to slaughter.” Was he setting a precedent for us?
4. Most mind-boggling of all: how did all my clothes get too tight just because of the pandemic?
Truth is, we’re all pretty confused. Even those with the answers. Those charged with making the rules and those charged with enforcing them. I have no idea what conversations go on behind closed doors. I have no idea who’s arguing for what even while presenting a unified front.
I’m choosing to focus on four things I know for certain.
1. We’re not all going to die of Covid-19, but we are all going to die. We try with great determination to control how and when, and sometimes that is met with a measure of success and people get to stick around a little longer. Often, we fail. Either way, death comes to all.
2. Whether you have five days or five years or five decades left here, it’s only a blip on the scope of eternity. If you are unprepared to die, you are unprepared to truly live.
3. When you know your afterlife is secure, you can trust the One who secured it to hold you whatever may come. You can move forward with respect for your leaders, for your neighbors, for the laws of the land, for those with different opinions, without fear.
4. You don’t have to understand it all to realize life is too short to quibble about hills not worth dying on. You can use these difficult days to grow. You can pray for those who must make unpopular decisions.
What if this shared experience makes us all more kind, patient, and gentle? More aware of what really matters? More grateful for life?
“[The godly man] does not fear bad news, nor live in dread of what may happen. For he is settled in his mind that God will take care of him.” (Psalm 112:7 TLB)