A lot of news is scary, so naturally a lot of people are scared. The news gets worse by the day (which is likely to continue for awhile, so brace yourself), so we can expect rising anxiety. What do we make of this?
How much trouble are we in? How bad will it be? Is this the end of our country, or even of the world?
Here is what I think:
Well, first and foremost, could this be The End? Maybe; how would I know? Jesus didn't even tell the Apostles, so he sure isn't telling me. But, as I go into below, I think that is unlikely.
So: be calm. Keep some perspective.
It occurs to me a lot of people, especially young people, may not know much history. If so, I can imagine how frightening this can be. Even President Trump, ever prone to exaggeration, said yesterday something like, nothing like this has ever happened before! With respect, he is wrong about that.
Quite aside from all the many bad things that happen all the time -- wars, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, droughts, floods -- terrible viruses and other dire health risks like Covid 19 have happened all through history. Such pestilence was quite common, and addingvto the terror was not knowing why they happened and when they would strike. This was true not only in the far past, but nearer to the present as well. Remember Ebola? That was and is a horrifying killer, but thankfully contained. Nevertheless, it reoccurs from time to time. But it hasn't happened in the U.S., so it hasn't seemed like the End of the World to us.
Yes, you say, but that didn't strike the whole world, what about that? My answer is, you mean like the Spanish Flu? Or two world wars, three if the Cold War counts as a world war (I think it does). The latter really did put us on the brink, more than once. Meanwhile, things like plague and smallpox ravaged the whole world, only not all at once.
We -- meaning humanity -- survived. We won, and are far stronger for it: i.e., our immunity.
All that said, let us frankly admit: you and I, and everyone around us, is going to die. It could easily be today, tomorrow, this week or this month or this year. BUT: it is unlikely to the extreme that it will happen to ALL or even more than a tiny fraction of us all at once. But yes, each of us WILL die, soon or late, and then?
Heaven! If we are in a state of grace! (Purgatory is a way-station along to Heaven.) Or, HELL if we are not. One great grace many, many are receiving right now is a keener awareness of death, inviting them to repent and find peace with the Lord Jesus, who is shockingly prodigal in mercy. Yes, in that sense, this crisis is a GRACE.
Meanwhile we have great reasons for confidence and courage. This virus is bad, but not omnipotent. We can and WILL defeat it. Look past so many screaming bad news notices for less trumpeted good news:
- People are responding generously and courageously. There are no riots. People are listening to our leaders and trying to do their part.
- Health care providers are running toward the fire, as are many others. Many of the Italian priests who died of coronavirus were chaplains. They ran to the fire.
- Meanwhile, many other sectors are rushing food, medicine and other supplies to market, and others are scrambling to ramp up production of ventilators, masks, and new treatments and a vaccine. The U.S. was the "Arsenal of Democracy" in WWIi, now we will be the Pharmacy of the World. It has already begun and it will be awesome. And we won't be alone.
With a lot of us cooped up at home, no doubt we are watching a lot of TV. This might not be the best time to watch movies like "Pandemic" or "The Andromeda Strain." On the other hand, it might be an excellent time to watch films like:
- "United 93"
- "For Greater Glory"
- "The Scarlet and the Black"
- "A Man for All Seasons"
- "A Beautiful Mind"
- "Remember the Titans"
- "Stand and Deliver"
- "Darkest Hour"
This is only a quick-and-dirty list; some are religious, some are sports, some are war pictures; they are all about real people who won improbable victories against great enemies, the worst of which are fear and despair. And may I emphatically add, in no way do I deem our certain victory as "improbable"; but if you are brooding darkly, stories of easy triumphs will not be a strong enough tonic.
Let me close with a quote from Winston Churchill, the leader of Great Britain in WWIi, which he spoke to the Canadian Parliament as the war seemed bleakest:
"We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy.