A critical moment

People are starting to go stir crazy, and it’s more serious than really wanting to run out for a chocolate malt. Enough is enough, some say. We’ve had enough of social distancing. It’s time to open up the country again. Freedom demands it.

There are dangers here. If we try to “get back to normal” too soon, we’ll only inflame the situation. We may have “flattened the curve” of the coronavirus outbreak, but it’s not trending downward yet. Act too soon, and we could incite an even worse epidemic.

Still, some say we must “return to normal” as soon as possible. “The cure can’t be worse than the disease,” says one White House official. “The economic cost to individuals is just too great.”

If you’ve lost income or your livelihood because of anti-viral sanctions, you must yearn for better days. They can’t come soon enough. You fear that the damage to your finances is so great that you may not recover. We need to hear and act on those concerns.

But the way some politicians are phrasing it is simply ghastly. Sure, we take a chance in opening up too soon, they say, but that’s “the lesser of two evils.” Is it really?

In effect, some are saying: “Somebody has to take a bullet here. I nominate you.” Which of your family or friends are you willing to sacrifice? Are you ready to die to save the economy?

As for those already pushing back against the sanctions, I ask: Who among us has the right to endanger others by our behavior? Is it acceptable to go around without a face mask? Is it OK to sneeze on produce in the supermarket? What are the limits of personal freedom? And to the churches playing the martyr game: By staying open, how many people will you kill in the name of Jesus?

For some people, the attitude seems to be, “The parachute has slowed our descent. We can take it off now.” Is it really expedient to kill some so we can spare others hardship? Or have we failed to think this through?

New federal guidelines announced Thursday change nothing. It will be weeks before there is significant thawing of social distancing rules. Yes, our “new normal” stinks. But carefully consider the alternatives.

Whatever the secular debate, there is always a deeper religious dimension. Let’s change the terms of the discussion. What are the loving things to do now? WWJD?

This message also will appear on the Facebook and YouTube pages of Edgerton United Methodist Church in Edgerton, Kansas.

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