This has been a surreal week. News of more and more COVID-19 deaths–some from the physical effects of the virus, a growing number related to the anxiety, stress, and depression accompanying our global pandemic–hit home at the same time cries, some of them virulent, to re-open the country grew louder and stronger, personal tragedy and public triumphalism sharing the same, increasingly congested space in our collective consciousness. At least that’s how it felt to me.
As our country’s political/cultural rift widens, seemingly daily, I am ever more thankful for my upbringing–in so many ways, but particularly where American politics are concerned. My dad voted straight-ticket Democrat his whole life, while my mom, less partisan, typically voted Republican, but not exclusively, as long as the Democrat was pro-life (and there were a lot more of them back then than there are now). Dad routinely joked that his goal each November was to cancel out Mom’s vote, and though at one level that’s exactly what he did, the blustering was, indeed, in good fun. The overarching lesson my siblings and I took from it all was that good, moral, intelligent, and even (especially) Christian people can differ greatly about politics . . . and still live peaceably together, 57 years at the time of Dad’s death.
My parents’ political views came to mind this week as I processed the headlines–the loud, shrill voices on the far left matching the loud, shrill voices on the far right. I’ve always felt too conservative for extreme progressives and too progressive for extreme conservatives, and I sense there are a lot more of us out there in the great, vast political middle than a casual glance through the op-eds would suggest. (Dear God in heaven, if there ever were a time to raise up a third political party in America–I’d love to see one embracing the general principles found in Ron Sider’s Completely Pro-Life–now might be it.)
Indeed, the above served as the fodder for the following attempt to recognize the validity of each of the current competing principles (with apologies to sonnet purists; I couldn’t figure out how to get the last couplet indented so that it shows up as it’s supposed to on all the platforms). There are no easy answers, and anyone who tries to suggest otherwise on a placard or in a Tweet does a grave disservice to those who are really suffering–some hurting financially, some hurting physically; some grieving loss of jobs, some grieving loss of lives . . . all needing healing, not hectoring.
Sonnet for Coronavirus Victims
COVID-19 does not discriminate.
An equal-opportunity disease,
As if by some foul luck or curse of fate
It visits whom it wishes. So do please
Pay due respect in weeks ahead, as states
And cities, counties, neighborhoods, and more
Now open as the virus (please!) abates
(We hope!)–with access to the general store!–
Our leaders rolling dice (how can they know?)
Concerning fiscal vs. physical
Well-being, watching numbers ebb and flow:
Accounts decrease, the deaths increase . . . hard call.
Assert your freedoms, yes, but humbly still;
“Death be not proud,” but neither merciful.
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. . . .'” (John 11:25, ESV).
The Lord be with you!