After over three decades of visiting the sick, I find myself wondering how many of those protesting the shutdown have ever seen a person on a ventilator. Very few of the twenty thousand Americans who died this week of COVID-19 died peacefully, naturally, or in the presence of their family. The reason health care workers are so stressed in the midst of an exponentially rising infection curve is because they are unable to offer their neighbors the compassion and dignity that is expected of modern healthcare. If you want to see what herd immunity looks like, then go to Milan in March of this year, or to London during the plague of 1666.
I would not call these protestors patriots. They think freedom means letting the coronavirus loose like a roaring lion, to kill those with preexisting conditions, people of color, those living in rural America’s healthcare desert, or those who serve within the tightly packed corridors of our naval vessels. These hooligans dishonor those who marched in the sixties, when one generation challenged the wisdom of another, because their elders sent them to die senselessly in Viet Nam, denied African Americans civil rights, and mutually assured the destruction of the planet. Today’s protestors abandoned their elders in nursing homes, refuse to think globally, gladly embrace white supremacy, and wear camouflage without considering the soldier’s pledge to serve selflessly.
The commandments say, “Honor your father and mother,” then add this promise, “So that you will live long in the land.” (Deuteronomy 5:16) What religion offers to America is the vision that if we care for the least, weakest, and most marginalized in our land, then blessings will follow. If we refrain from lying or retweeting falsehoods, if we seek the truth even when it is inconvenient, then our life together will be improved. If we deny ourselves and take up the cross of compassion for others, then our social isolation will be short and our post-coronavirus world wiser than the one we left behind (Luke 9:23).