I am starting this column March 18 and must have it to the editor by the 23rd. I expect that between now and then, there will be many more cases of COVID-19 in America and around the world. Given the predictions of medical experts, infections and deaths will likely still be on the increase when these thoughts appear in Up & Coming Weekly the following week.
I sit here thinking about my trip to the grocery store yesterday and how it was crowded with people stocking up on food and other items, especially looking for toilet paper. I think of liberal media reports that I have watched regarding this crisis. They all seem to make a concerted effort to identify what is not going well — to stir distrust of President Trump and generate panic. Even though the political situation for addressing this crisis is somewhat positive, there are still politicians who are clearly looking for political advantage from a devastating crisis.
I suggest we face this stressful situation with calm resolve. That means, without panic or selfishness, working together in a loving fashion to overcome this virus and move ahead together. What I contend now is that America does not have the wherewithal for such a response. If we are honest in reflecting on and assessing the political and social condition of America, we can only conclude that the country does not have what is required to address this crisis with calm resolve. No, we will go on consumed by panic, fear, some political posturing, and feeding of the hatred that is consuming us as a nation. All of this is made even worse by liberal media.
The reason we lack the capacity for calm resolve is that we, as a nation, have turned from the only source of calm resolve for an individual or nation. The turn is not complete, but it is far enough along that we will simply, with far greater than necessary hardship, stumble our way through this crisis. Say what you will about the early leaders of this nation; they had failings and faults but seriously looked to God for direction. They set our nation’s course based on God’s principles. From a Google search, I found this definition of principles: “A fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.”
So much of what is happening in America absolutely confirms this turn from God. Consider the response of too many young people to the guidelines regarding the COVID-19. Those recommendations from medical professionals called for avoiding gatherings of 10 or more people. Initially, it was 100, then 50, but in a matter of a few days went to 10. Further, we were encouraged to maintain at least 6 feet between individuals.
Despite this call for avoiding crowds and maintaining distance from others, thousands of young people crowded Florida beaches for spring break. With seeming defiance, they disregarded the guidelines and, in doing so, exposed themselves to possible infection. If some of these young people were to become infected, it would allow them to infect older people, including their parents and grandparents, who are more likely to have a difficult illness experience and even die. This is especially true of seniors with underlying medical conditions.
From the Ten Commandments, a principle that God calls us to is respect and appreciation for parents. Exodus 20:12 (HCSB) says: “Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Those young people crowded onto Florida beaches totally disregarded this principle of God.
Then there is an astounding revelation that has come to the forefront because of the COVID-19. That has to do with our dependence on China for the production of medications. It is a fact that China is not a friend, not an ally, of the United States. In the face of that fact of life, consider the following segments from an article by Matthew Perrone and Linda A. Johnson titled, “US reports first drug shortage tied to virus outbreak.”
It states, “Health officials reported the first U.S. drug shortage tied to the viral outbreak that is disrupting production in China, but they declined to identify the manufacturer or the product.
“The FDA previously said it had reached out to 180 drug manufacturers to check their supply chain and report any potential disruptions. The agency also said it had identified 20 drugs produced or sourced exclusively from China, but it declined to name them.
“For decades, the pharmaceutical industry has shifted manufacturing to China, India and other countries to take advantage of cheaper labor and materials. Today, roughly 80 percent of the ingredients used in U.S. medicines are made abroad, according to federal figures. India and other Asian nations rely on Chinese drug ingredients to make finished generic pills.”
I believe in capitalism, but what has happened with our substantial dependence on China for drugs goes beyond reasonable profit-making. The article referenced above is accurate; the driving force in this decision is “cheaper labor and materials,” which result in greater profits. Putting the health of a nation at risk by substantially entrusting our drug production to foreign countries, especially China, goes beyond what is reasonable and does not give due consideration to how innocent people may be adversely impacted. This gets to love of money, and lack of love for others, which is totally contrary to God’s principles.
These are just two of many indicators that we are a nation that has dramatically turned from God. If, in this moment of COVID-19 crisis, the American people will honestly reflect and assess, our turning from God will be crystal clear. The remaining question is, what does this turning from God have to do with our inability to exercise calm and resolve in the midst of this crisis?
I contend the Apostle Paul gives the answer in Romans 7:7-25. Paul explains that the law made him aware of what constituted sin. However, in his humanness, he was not able to say no to sin. It required something more than his mere awareness of sin. He puts it this way in verses 22 and 23 (NIV): “22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.”
He concludes that the only way to be the person we ought to be is to enter into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In verse 25, he writes,” Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”
So, in our flesh, in our sinful nature, we have this always present call to sin; but when in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we know God’s principles and, from him, receive power to live by those principles. In this relationship, when we fail, God is there to forgive us and continue walking with us through all that life presents. It is only in this relationship with God that we can, individually and as a nation, exercise the needed calm and resolve in the face of this COVID-19 crisis. Absent relationship with God and the resulting support for our living, we, in our flesh, in our sinful nature, yield to the panic, fear, selfishness, political manipulation, and liberal media destructive behavior that make calm resolve impossible.
We better wake up, honestly reflect and assess quickly. Time is of the essence.