I sincerely apologize for neglecting to write much on Defy Augury; it’s been an awfully tumultuous senior year, but ironically, now that a pandemic has come up, the time is at hand to revitalize. One idea I’ve had for quite some time now is to open a page on the site entitled “Letters to the Editor,” in which page you can fashion a message to me with any question concerning the topics of this blog (theology, literature, and poetry). I’ll write thoughtful responses for you as soon as possible and, with your permission, may publish both your question and my answer in a blog post, with you appearing as anonymous in the publication if you so wish. That page is now open, so I would invite you if you would like to take full advantage of it. Although it’s been hectic, please, please know that I am here for you!
To all those who are claimed by fright over the latest pandemic—
The pores through which paranoia possesses the capability to seep through and wreak havoc on the human race have never been more innumerable than in our ostensibly knit-together global culture. I trust that if it was difficult to see it earlier—say, late this past year, when we were tearing apart ribbons and wrappings and holding tightly traditions and family—this harsh world has now opened all our eyes to its continual flux, and to its credit, it could hardly do it more effectively.
Having borne a chronic physical illness, I know how it feels to be afraid of bodily trials, but to see a whole society, much less a entire planet, living in such devastation of the mind brings a near-disbelief in it all to my heart, for although the news has claimed and the governments have demonstrated a conviction in the danger of the virus, our own states of mind are what hurt us most now. The coronavirus, you see, cannot change itself; whether we are terrified of it or no, it will still be the same illness with the same symptoms with the same cures, even if those cures are currently undiscovered. Thus, in order to “beat” it in the truest sense of the word, we must not remain essentially immutable, essentially bearing an automatic response of panic so inbred we aren’t even conscious of it. Moving across countries is an external matter the coronavirus does a wonderful job of doing, and we are doing too much of a good job in doing the exact opposite. But it is, as I said, external, something all of us could handle with relatively little difficulty. Such crises as these plead with us to change our inner beings to achieve a greater steadfastness in the soul.
Coronavirus, though deadly to some (the vast majority being the elderly and those with underlying conditions), has been on the whole much more mild as we consider other sicknesses in our Earth’s past. Nevertheless, it is still a sort of suffering, still a pandemic. And as such, it is just another key on the seemingly endless keychain of potential trials, with each key unlocking the same door: that which leads to the nature of our hearts. Perhaps this round of worldwide suffering seems much worse than those in the past because we’ve never seen a greater disparity between our wonted prosperity and our basic evils—not that the evils change, but our material prosperity rises, and the higher we climb in such, the harder we fall.
What does our nature look like in the terms of coronavirus? Let us examine the evidence in our deeds. We remove ourselves from people when most of us are at low risk of dying. We see ourselves and our neighbors buying far out of proportion to our true material needs and to our bank accounts. We hear media rebuking our President for a virus no one person could reasonably be expected to control, no matter what a single person may think of him. And because of our inacceptance of risk, we hide from each other when there’s always been risk of mortal danger (as C.S. Lewis discusses in his essay on the “atomic age”). Because we are buying out of proportion to wisdom, those whose needs are especially great—say, those who are most at risk for dying from the pandemic—can’t have basic necessities to live. Because we fall into rebuking the president or really any one person for the virus, we are rendered blind to our faults and looking only at the offspring of our fear.
Thus the livelihoods of entire nations blow away in mere moments, and everyone removes themselves from each other, whether they are at a great risk or no.
Prudence, of course, grows alongside risk, and some are prudent in this time, but if someone from the outside peered into our world at large today, he or she likely wouldn’t guess it.
That’s because we are too fearful to accept uncertainties, too insensitive to save supplies for those who likely will develop a severe case and obey wisdom, and too desperate for answers to avoid pointing fingers at anyone or shoving someone under the bus.
Can we truly say we are loving our neighbors as ourselves? Because me, you, and all of us aren’t displaying unselfishness, compassion, and acceptance. Instead of walking inside the door coronavirus unlocked and clearing out our deeply evil natures, we are helplessly ushering wrongdoing inside and throwing a Vanity Fair over it.
Friends, we were called for more than this! Look upon the world today and do not question anyone on Earth or criticize God, because we all caused this when we rebelled against the First Cause of our existence, when we decided to disobey the personal, invisible, and perfect God who made the world so long ago. He is a just God because He cannot tolerate wrongdoing or its results—and coronavirus is one of those results—and He is a loving God because He doesn’t force us to love Him and thereby make androids of us. But this loving God also knows that He is the only one who can fulfill us (John 14), so He reveals Himself in Scripture and gives us the strength to fight through our present nature (for we were originally created with free will but without wrong) if we only turn our eyes up to trust Him, believe in Him, and commit to loving Him. And as we love Him, we are thankful for His sacrifice so much that our love cannot help but spread to those all round us.
With such a conviction, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we can raise a war cry—not at coronavirus, but at our natures from which the coronavirus so dramatically tore away the blindfold. Let us raise hands together and not do physical violence against ourselves, but deny ourselves of what our nature most craves. It is only then that we shall have a better distribution of food and drink, hearts without desire to blame, and peaceful demeanor with one another. Such will not stop the coronavirus entirely, but when our minds are set at ease once more, which party will be defeated in the best possible sense of the word? When we labor greatly to ask God to work in our lives and then act along with His truth and His commands, a steadfastness in spirit will surge up in us like a fountain in the Sahara or a firework celebrating the dawn of a bright new year, and we will be ready for anything that could come our way far before we know what that trial is. After all, corona does signify a crown, so let us begin a joyful virus of praise for our King.
March 22, 2020
P.S. Please share this message of hope with all you know:)