During this recent and unprecedented time around the world, I have been reflecting on my own responses to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic and what I can do as a response.
I am in the process of writing something but am holding off for a couple more days while I give it time to ferment. This is a huge and polarising topic and I want to ensure that what I have to say provides opportunity for you to reflect in an adult and effective manner.
But while I have been reflecting and managing to not panic (too much) I caught myself in a totally unexpected moment this morning and want to share about how this moment in time affected me.
I went to Coles in the morning to pick up some basics; anything I thought would be useful for us and what I could carry back to our apartment. I had checked the toilet paper aisle but as expected, it was bone dry so decided not to stress and headed for the checkout. I gathered my items, careful to not take more than what I felt we genuinely could use, and popped it all on the conveyer belt at the checkout.
For some reason I turned back and saw a lady and her husband with their trolley and low and behold, she had a 12 pack of toilet paper. And in that split second moment I appalled myself.
My totally real mental response was: where did she get that??? and then, I actually questioned if I could justify leaving my items and running down to the aisle to see if I could find more toilet paper.
When I say I appalled myself, I really did. I was gobsmacked that my first instinct was to feel immediate anxiety and become irrational. This is not the person I am; not the person I work hard to be!
But there I was, being that person and in such a split second there was no way I could have intersected those thoughts quicker than I did. I just hope that my reaction did not show on my face!
What did I learn from this? That I am just like every other person around. Despite my core beliefs, the values I hold dear and my personal views on just being a decent human being, I fell toward my most base survival instinct. Self preservation. Survival of the fittest.
I have been watching the local and international reactions to the virus and its spread and strongly believe that we have an equally devastating monster to fight: fear.
Fear is running rampant and doesn’t have to do anything but plant the seed. And our world – in particular, Western culture – has turned to a sackcloth and ashes mentality, fear-bugged eyes searching empty shelves and women tearing at each other over a basic need that people in third world countries consider a true luxury.
Should we feel ashamed of our cultural shift toward complete self-centred preservation? Should we feel ashamed of our internal drive to protect ourselves and our immediate family?
I think there are no hard and fast answers to these questions, however I will say that the one thing we can do, and control, is our personal response to all the chaos around us. We have control over our mental and physical positioning. We are responsible to show rational and considerate behaviour and to model this for our children. Yes, we need to provide and look after our loved ones but we are also called to look after others and be stewards of the great blessings we have had.
These are just my thoughts. I realise that this situation is polarising and not everyone will agree with me, and that’s fine. I just believe that writers during this time have an obligation to speak into the culture we live in and respond in ways that make our readers think outside their own immediate world.
If there is any one thing I can leave you with right now it would be this: if you believe that God is real and provides all our needs, now is the time to stand on this belief. If you have not experienced God’s provision, now is the perfect time to ask him to prove himself to you. Personally, I have never been disappointed. He has provided over and over and over again, in ways that are entirely not coincidental and I have decided, especially after this morning (!) to lean back on the truth I have learned through experiencing the provision of God in my life.
My prayers are with you and all of us,