When I first considered writing this post last night, I think it would have come out very differently than it is today. Fueled by anger for others not seeing the same as me, my thoughts were sarcastic and perhaps not as kind as I prefer them to be. I am human, and as I’m quick to share, I’m a continual work in progress. I think, though, sometimes we all forget that. We forget our friends, and even our enemies, are works in progress. People who don’t see things the same as we do, are works in progress. In fact, if you’re a Christian, you are definitely a work in progress, journeying each and every day towards a life that looks more like Jesus. I share all this to say that the words I’m now putting down are transformed by love, considered prayerfully, and in an aim for all of the collective works-in-progress to grow more like Him. In other words, please don’t take it as a personal offense if you posted this graphic.
Last night I saw this graphic shared on Facebook. I don’t know the origin, and I don’t even know if the data or math is correct. I do know what its likely purpose was, and I do know the reaction it hoped to evoke. One, easy look at the capitalized NOT will let you know the idea of this graphic is to promote a frustration over government regulations and restrictions amidst COVID-19. This specific table for my home state of MS promotes the idea that COVID is NOT that dangerous, not likely to infect most people, and it easily flames the fuel of frustration over shutdowns, public school quarantines, and a worsening economy. It supports ideas that masks aren’t needed, sports should continue unhampered, and of course, that the government is trying to control our personal lives, not help us.
A common reaction to a graphic like this might be, “so why in the world are we stopping life for these kinda percentages?!”
Look, I get it. I do. It’s hard to see outside our own little world. Typically we allow a situation to affect us emotionally or on a deeper level only if it affects us personally. For example, if we don’t know anyone with a disease, it might be harder to believe it exists. If we haven’t known someone otherwise healthy who has died from a virus, we might not consider it deadly. If we focus more on how this all is affecting us personally, we might consider our child missing out on Senior year activities of greater value than the death of a stranger’s spouse. This is a sad aspect of human nature, but it does happen. We all fall to it. It’s easy to throw out our leftovers, never considering that some children will go to bed the very same night with empty bellies. Just because we’re overweight doesn’t mean that hunger isn’t a problem for some in this country.
I better get to the point quickly. You guys are gonna fade away. So, do you know what I first noticed when I saw this graphic? The number 2,128. The question is, how will you look at that number? Some people will say that 2,128 people in almost three million isn’t that big of a deal. I think if that’s how you’re responding, you might want to check your heart. How many deaths will it take to mean something? What is the right percentage to make your personal inconvenience worth dealing with?
Imagine if 2,128 bodies were stacked in your back yard. Would it seem like a lot then? What if number 2,127 was your child? Would it have been worth wearing a mask or social distancing then?
As a Christian people, we typically support a Pro-Life stance. I know I do! I guess I’m just wondering why Pro-Life only matters to a large majority of Christians when it’s in the womb? Why aren’t we for the life of our neighbors? Or for the life of minorities? Or for the life of immigrants? It almost makes it seem like Pro-Life is more of a political agenda than a way of life like Jesus calls it to be. I mean, Jesus was extremely Pro-Life, but He didn’t draw lines in the sand.
Jesus didn’t say, ‘love your neighbor, but only if he agrees with you, is the same political party as you, and goes to your church.’ He just said to love them.
I figure a large part of loving our neighbor is caring about what is important to them, not just what’s important to us. It’s about sacrificing personal convenience to show the love of Christ. It’s about serving others and sympathizing with their pain. It’s about seeing that graphic I shared and not ignoring the number 2,128. That’s over two thousand families who lost a loved one. In the Bible Jesus spoke about leaving the flock of 99 to just save the one, but we forget that unless the one happens to be us. Otherwise it’s irrelevant to us.
My plea to the Christian community would be to practice compassion, sympathy, and humility. I would ask you to join me in the stretching process of caring about others more than ourselves, to serve one another in love. Let’s not just look at how a situation negatively affects us, but place ourselves in the shoes of others and attempt to understand their pain. We should be allowing the pain of others to break our hearts like it does God, and consider every situation through a kingdom context. There’s so much more to life than the materialistic and inconvenient nuisances we experience. I’m not saying that real and serious impacts from this pandemic haven’t been experienced, but I would encourage us all to ask ourselves if we’re putting our own life well above that of another. If we want to exercise the opinion that all lives matter, then let’s do just that. Let’s believe that all lives, all 2,128 lives lost prematurely, matter. Let’s do better, guys.