I was at Sam’s club 2 Wednesday ago picking up some coffee and I noticed that about 80% of the carts around me contained toilet paper. I thought those people were kinda crazy and definitely over-reacting. Fast forward a week and I’m back at Sam’s club, wandering through the aisles to see what’s sold out. On the back of a shelf there are still a few packages of disinfectant wipes. But only a few. A sudden and strong urge rose up within me to buy those disinfectant wipes, until I stopped and thought about the fact that we are still using the same (small) disinfectant wipes we bought from Aldi at the start of the school year. Was I really going to become the kind of person that went through his house wiping everything down? Probably not. But what if…
I left without the wipes. I could tell from what was going on in my heart that I was not making a wise, rational decision. I was caught up in the frenzy of a low grade panic. I was being influenced by the behavior of those around me to a greater extent than normal. I was being affected by the cultural panic around me.
Yes, I get that we need to be prepared. I get that we decisions need to be made quickly. But decisions born of panic very rarely prove themselves to be sound. You know what I tell my kid when her shoe is stuck in some crevice that she’s been playing footsie with? Don’t panic. Panic never solves anything. Do you know what I tell my kids when the lights go out in a storm? Don’t panic. Panic never solves anything.
There is a difference between urgency and panic. I get that. But what I sense in the world right now is panic. And one reason for the panic is that we have invested all of our attention on one thing: what the epidemiologists are telling us about Covid-19. We have tuned in to one station, and it’s the station with maps and charts and numbers that all show a blossoming problem.
Enter the voice of wisdom. Wisdom is the balance of the general practitioner vs the focus of the specialist. Wisdom waits and listens for the dissenting voices instead of shutting them off. Wisdom takes pictures from multiple angles to gain understanding. Wisdom wants to paint a picture that includes the shades of economic impact, the colors of civil liberties, the negative spaces of social repercussions, and the chiaroscuro of personal dynamics. Wisdom is a symphony. Right now, we’re only hearing the sirens.
When an epidemiologist sees 2 people shake hands, he sees germs transmitting. Wisdom sees a potential partnership. When an epidemiologist sees 2 people hug, she sees a virus spreading. Wisdom sees a soul refreshed. There is nothing wrong with the epidemiologist. That’s his job. That’s what she has trained to see. And right now we need his eyes and his voice. We need to hear him clearly.
But we need other voices, too. Because when this is over, Dr Fauci will not have an opinion on how to fix the economy. Dr Fauci will not be able to advise on how to handle an over-burdened foster care system. Dr Fauci won’t be able to write a check for our deficit.
Let me suggest a few things to our government:
- Do what is necessary, but no more. Interfere for the sake of the ones you serve, but interfere as little as possible.
- The stronger the measures you take, the shorter they need to last.
- Think surgical strike, not beaches of Normandy.
And now let me suggest something that we all need to think about as individuals. The God who created you is not silent. He is always speaking. His world is declaring his eternal power and Godhead. His Son reveals Him through acts of love and redemption. And He has written a book. We see only the surface, but He reveals to us the depths. We see the now, and He declares what is to come. How much more would we know of Him if we dedicated the time and energy to listening to Him as we have the updates on Covid-19? This wisdom that is from above is pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere (1 JOhn 3:17-18).