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Riding the Bus to Insanity

During the recent Covid-19 Pandemic, we've all witnessed absurdity and/or hypocrisy. We've seen officials warning us all to wear masks only to be found minutes later sitting in a crowd of people without one. Then there are the reporters standing in an open field with nobody around talking through a mask as if to prevent us from contracting the virus through the TV. One of the earliest examples was when our government shared the initial CDC guidelines including a dire warning to "avoid touching (our) faces." Unfortunately, it was given by an official who incessantly licked her fingers to turn the pages of the report she read. Tongues--OK, faces--Not OK??

I like to say that "fear is the bus to insanity." There may be multiple stops--anger, confusion, hypocrisy, etc. Still, the ultimate destination of fear is the proverbial "Funny Farm." It's wise for us to be aware of this so as to avoid the progression or get off the bus before it's too late.

In addition to the many corporate examples we've all seen, let me cite just a few from my experience as a hospice chaplain. While they are funny, some of these have created emotional trauma and created other risks to patients and family members involved. One facility I worked with forbade any visits--including what we've come to call "window visits" where family come to a patient's window to wave and blow kisses while talking on the phone. I have yet to hear a medical explanation of the danger of passing Covid-19 through a window or the Verizon network. Still, this was apparently their fear.

On another visit, I was talking to the receptionist through a Plexiglas screen they had erected in front of her desk. I had on a mask as did she. Still, despite all these barriers, when she spoke to me (not when she just stood there or looked around, only when she spoke), she held up an additional face shield as a third or fourth barrier between us. Her chances of contracting the virus where less than winning the lottery without buying a ticket, yet she looked anxious. Was it more likely that she'd make a mistake? I think so....

On another visit, I was forced to mask-up, glove-up, gown-up, and face-shield up before I was allowed to leave the lobby. This after being disinfected, screened, and having my temperature taken. I tried to explain that many doctors don't want professionals like myself to wear the gloves and gown until we enter the room to avoid transmitting the virus by picking it up off a door or handrail and carrying it into a patient's room. Didn't matter--I was told to comply, which I did. The problem was that the face shield was so damaged and scratched that I literally had trouble seeing through it. I had to climb stairs, negotiate the hallway to the patient's room, conduct my visit, and then return. I jokingly asked if their insurance would cover me if I plummeted down the stairs. The receptionist didn't find this humorous. I guess she felt that while I might die from the fall--but at least I'd die Covid-free!!

I would argue that no matter what the crisis, we need to use our heads. Logic is even MORE important in a pandemic, not less so. Checking our brains (or our faith) at the door is the LAST thing we should be doing at this time. So, I'm encouraging everyone to "get off the fear bus!" Let's not ride to insanity but rather think through the problems and the solution to this crisis. All of this must be done in love, not fear. As scripture tells us, "Perfect love casts out fear (I John 4:18)." We need not panic and act irrationally over a disease with a 97-99% survival rate (see CDC and WHO death numbers vs. reported cases). We can take precautions and should do so. But there's no place for God-fearing people to live in hypocrisy, confusion, panic, and irrational legalism.

It's time to pray, love--and get off the fear bus....

To that end,

Pastor Joel


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