Friday, April 3, 2020

Good Neighboring

Miss Johnson! Miss Johnson! Billy had his eyes open during prayer! 

We are approaching a dangerous intersection on our journey through these difficult times: we are coming to the place where public opinion is putting more pressure on our infrastructure than the virus itself. And by infrastructure, I am talking about all of the things that make us a community and not just a random group of individuals living in close proximity to one another. 

All of a sudden, we're living in a world in which everyone seems to have become an expert on what their neighbor should be doing. We have public outcries amid stay-at-home orders about what should be essential and what shouldn't be, persons ranting and raving about how they can't believe such-and-such a business is allowed to stay open. The truth is, they are merely upset because they don't have a personal need for that service or item, so they can't fathom that anyone else would, either. 

I saw someone a few days ago post asking why car lots are allowed to remain open. "Like anyone needs a new car right now!" Well, actually, my neighbor's car caught fire on the interstate earlier this week as he was commuting to his job as an essential employee. He's supposed to not have a car to drive because someone else doesn't need one and doesn't consider it essential?

Some counties and localities are taking this even further and prohibiting superstores from selling "non-essential" items to customers. Because someone complained about seeing persons in the grocery store with craft supplies or clothing in their cart. But what is essential and who gets to decide? If I accidentally leave something in my pocket and it ruins all my laundry in the wash, am I not allowed to buy new clothing because you don't think it's essential? If my kids are home and are e-learning and have an art project or a science project to do, are they out of luck because you deemed the supplies for their creativity non-essential?

The experts in public health have come out and said that outdoor activity is not only safe, but essential to maintaining our overall wellness during this time. There are some reasonable restrictions, of course - basketball is not considered a safe activity. Tennis and golf are. It's perfectly acceptable to take a walk with your family or with your dog or I've even seen some suggest, your cat, if that's your thing. But persons are driving by golf courses and seeing individuals out playing together and crying about it. Some counties have closed all golf courses and removed all tennis nets. Despite the fact that the experts say it's okay and even good, the public is crying so loud about what others are doing that governments are starting to respond and shut these things down.

The CDC is currently reconsidering its guidelines on whether all Americans should wear masks in public, not because the scientific data on the matter has changed or because it all of a sudden seems like a good idea, but because the public outcry has gotten so loud and all of the sofa-sitting newly-crowned experts in public health can't believe they haven't made it mandatory yet. The facts remain that masks create a false sense of security and that improperly-worn masks may actually increase the risk of infection (and by the way, you're wearing your gloves wrong, too). But the masses are crying out for this step, so the leaders are looking at it all over again. 

One local municipality had to put a call out on the news for persons to stop calling the authorities to tattle on their neighbors for not social distancing the way they think they should be.

This isn't the way it's supposed to be. This isn't how we were meant to live with one another. We aren't supposed to live our lives trying to make sure everyone else does exactly what we think they should do, and we aren't supposed to pretend to be the experts on things we know nothing about. We are blessed to have men and women around us who have invested their lives in learning about these sorts of things, who have become voices of leadership and knowledge for us, but it seems that the more they tell us, the more confident we become in our own understanding, and it's such a fine line to cross until we suddenly think that we are the experts. 

We aren't, and we aren't supposed to be. We do not have to be experts on everything we're going to encounter in life; we do have to be neighbors to everyone we meet. We do have to be good citizens. We do have to humble ourselves and recognize those places where others know better than we do, and we have to be willing to listen to wisdom when we need it. It's wisdom that guides us into love. And it's love, not fear, that makes the world go 'round. 

We should all be doing what we can do to be safe in these times and to honor the safety of others, but we have to stop pretending that our responsibility in life is making sure others live the way we think they ought to. Our responsibility in life is to love one another with the fullest measure of grace. And that means loving those who we think are wrong - whether they be the ones out playing golf or the ones griping about golfers on social media.

Just because we're six feet apart doesn't mean we shouldn't be one-anothering with all we've got.

So can we please, please, please stop being experts and start being neighbors? Can we stop being the police and start being a community again? We need each other. And we're going to need each other even more in the days and weeks to come.

Let the experts be the experts. Humble yourself and focus on just being a good neighbor.

And by the way, if Billy had his eyes open during did you.


Bonus content: 

What we're seeing right now, although frustrating, is actually a very natural human response. It comes out of our need for control amid fear. It's psychological more than it is social, and it's a very personal experience. We have all been told to stay at home, but staying at home feels like nothing. We ask ourselves what we are really doing, whether we're making a real difference or not. And so what we're seeing is a lot of individuals driven to know whether they're making a difference and finding a way to make sure that they are. Hence, they become the social distancing police. They become the essential/non-essential police. They start using their voice to talk about all the things we "have" to be doing because what we are already doing doesn't feel like enough. It doesn't feel like enough because it's not "active." The difference we are making right now is passive; it's happening precisely because we're not doing things, but we're simply not wired that way. We're not wired to think that's enough.

Staying home, washing your hands after the fact...this feels re-active, not pro-active. Wearing a mask feels proactive. That's why so many want to do it. It's psychological. It's the way we're wired.

It's really difficult for me right now to be torn between understanding the psychological needs of human beings, aching for the community that we're destroying, and longing for the sacred story that's being blurred by our loss of love and connection. I love God, more than anything. I believe in Heaven, and I think it's now. I live in an ideal world because I'm a citizen of Heaven and not of this place. But at the same time, I'm human, and I know what it's like to live in this flesh. I don't fault anyone for being human, but neither can I let go of knowing there's a better way. It's tough. It's probably the toughest thing about being me. But it's who God's made me to be, so here I am. Doing the best I can with it. Just know that it's not easy. I spend a lot of nights up late, wrestling, grieving, crying, screaming, praying.

No comments:

Post a Comment