I speak, of course, in metaphors.
Yesterday the prime minister of India put a billion people, more or less, into lock down. He did this because there was a “spike” in cases — 519 cases, to be exact, and 10 reported deaths. Leaders are vying with other world leaders to show everybody how compassionate they are, and if thousands are trampled as a consequence of the pro-active leadership, that’s just business, baby. This was done because of The Spike, let us call it, and out of 1.3 billion people. This is, like, and I am rummaging around for the right phrase to describe it, um, and one is not coming immediately to mind, errr, but it is kind of like taking India’s temperature, finding that it was 98.6, putting that on a graph, finding out with a microscope that it was actually 98.600000009, and slapping the patient into the ICU.
So the panic continues to spread, not nearly as silently as the virus, and with the hot potential to destroy far more than the virus ever thought of. The virus hath slain its thousands, the panic its tens of thousands.
And when a panic takes hold, there is no reasoning with it in the moment. Every caution, every warning, every “calm down,” is just more fuel to the fire. While the panic is on, there is no reasoning with it. The only thing to do is to wait until it passes (which all panics will do, of necessity), and then you can count all the bodies.
Then, in the cool light of aftermath, somebody will write a thoughtful think piece for The Atlantic. People will nod in agreement. “I thought so at the time,” someone will mutter. Yeah, right.
“Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and went into the battle. And behold, every Philistine’s sword was against his fellow, and there was very great confusion.”
1 Sam. 14:20 (ESV)
And when Jehoshaphat went out to battle with the choir in front, praising the beauty of holiness, he encountered an enemy army that had mysteriously turned on one another.
“For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another.”
2 Chronicles 20:23 (ESV)
Now it would seem obvious, would it not, that when you go to war, you should fight with the enemy army, and not with one another? But if you venture to suggest something like this to a fellow soldier (who is attacking you), it just makes him hate you all the more.
We have officially gotten to preposterous and lunatic levels. The world around us is now officially cracked, demented, delusional, freaked out, fried, baked, insane, bonkers AND bananas.
Excuse me. I am going to sit down for a moment. This is March. Not November.
An Aside, and By the Way
I would like to use my indoor voice for this section, and breathe into a paper bag between paragraphs.
This last Monday, the Logos School Board met and thoroughly reviewed the situation we are in with regard to the coronavirus, taking into account the recommendations and most up-to-date evaluations of our governor and public health officials. We approved the school reopening with a modified flex-schedule next week (we had already extended spring break for a week). The flex-schedule would permit us to follow all the protocols needed that would protect the health of our students, and we also approved a commitment to work with any families who did not feel comfortable coming, or who were barred from coming (as some of our folks live in Washington state, and they are in lock-down).
And then on Tuesday, the ministerial session of Christ Church met, and decided we were going to return to our normal services, with numerous health protocols in place, as the emergency order issued by our mayor allowed an exemption for religious services. Last week, we did not find out about that exemption (in writing) until late Saturday, when it was too late to change the plan.
But then, also on Tuesday, we received a notice from the city that the mayor is now shutting everything down, schools and churches both. For Logos, we had a plan B in place, so our marvelous staff there is moving to work with parents to enable the students to complete their work from home. Christ Church also has a plan B, which we are working on as I write. I will let you know more about that when we know more, so stay tuned. New Saint Andrews was already in a position to move all their classes on line, which they have done quite seamlessly.
I say all this because I am saying some hard things in this piece, about courage and panic and frenzies and such, and I am going to be saying them from down here in a bunker. I just wanted folks to know that I did not come down here willingly.
Sowell Again for the Win
I have quoted Thomas Sowell on this kind of thing before, and will no doubt have occasion to quote him on this again, but here it is now, fresh and for this morning. Progressives think in terms of solutions and conservatives think in terms of trade-offs. Progressives ask what it will take to stop the virus, and conservatives ask what it will cost to stop the virus.
And further, when conservatives ask what it will cost to stop the virus, the progressives immediately wheel on them, and accuse them of “being mercenary,” of “setting a price tag” on precious human life and, if the progressive involved is a woke evangelical lefty, he will hide his peculiar myopia by using terms like “Mammon.” When you raise concerns about “the economy,” and “lost revenue streams,” he says, you are revealing to the world that idol standing there in a recessed alcove of your heart, like you won an Oscar or something.
No, actually The shutdown in California is costing billions of dollars a week in the restaurant business alone. We are talking about people. Conservatives who talk about costs are talking about costs to people. Progressives who ignore the costs are ignoring the costs to people. When you call the witch doctor and summon the aerie spirits of real solutions now, you will always be surprised by the appearance of the bill. What’s this? Why were we not informed?
But Remember Who Sent This
This is an extraordinary moment, an extraordinary time. Some people see the extraordinary threat exclusively in terms of an extraordinary virus. As far as it goes, fine. Nobody is saying the virus is nothing — it has killed a lot of people, as do a lot of other things that we routinely ignore. Yesterday I heard the very insightful comment that the coronavirus is the flu with a brilliant marketing team. So this virus is a virus out of the way. It is not ordinary. It is extraordinary.
The over-reaction to the virus is even more extraordinary. And it poses, in my view, a far, far greater threat. But just as we shouldn’t panic about the virus, because doing so only makes things worse, so also we shouldn’t panic about the panic. Doing so will only make that way worse.
Thomas Watson once said that we focus on who brings afflictions to us, rather than on the one who sent them to us. This monster threat, a hundred times more serious than the virus, is also from the hand of God. He sent this to us. This is all part of His perfect design, for His glory and our good, and so perhaps you are now asking why God sends frenzies like this.
There will be more to say about all this in the near future, and I hope to do so.