Covid-19 and prejudice: The Very Real Link

The Covid 19 virus has caused a world-wide pandemic among all peoples except perhaps the most remote cultures that have little or no contact with the outside world. It’s caused the lock down of all societies, some more than others. People are social beings. We need to interact with one another, and the virus is greatly restricting our interaction with each other. People are getting “cabin fever”, a term describing a condition that applies to persons who are restricted to their homes for months at a time due to extremes of weather, like being snowed in over the Winter months. Our cabin fever isn’t caused by weather. It’s caused by an unseen virus that makes our social interaction extremely dangerous. It’s understandable that people want to fight against the source of their lock down, but it’s nothing they can get their hands on. The best they can do is keep themselves and their homes sanitary and wear masks in public.

People are trying to find something they can strike out against. The release their frustration and anger is valid. The more we are restricted from our daily routine, the more irrational we become in our fight against the disruption of our lives. Many are expressing anger toward the government for their problem. They transfer their anger from the unseen real cause of the problem to a related one that can be seen. This is irrational because our elected officials are doing their best to reduce the damage done by the virus. They aren’t the cause of our discomfort, they’re the solution to it.

When the lock down first started, the conspiracy theorists were claiming that either there was no actual virus and the lock down was a way for the governments of the world to test methods of controlling the people, or that the virus is being used to control the world. These claims are not rational, but they do unfairly strike out at something that can be seen and rallied against. And, to some extent governments can be influenced by the people. The virus doesn’t hear us, it just keeps on behaving in the manner that it is constructed to behave. The citizens of New Mexico have expressed displeasure, to put it mildly, with governor Grisham for restricting our lives to what they feel is an unnecessary level. But our state has one of the lowest rates of infection per 1000 persons in the United States.

Here’s an amazing thing: Now that the restrictions on restaurants is being lifted and they are allowed to open the dining rooms again, business in many of them has fallen off from the take out only restrictions just a week or two ago. It would seem that business would pick up. not fall off. We can get our of our homes and move around and socialize to some extent. So why is business slower now than before? I think it’s because people are starting to realize the seriousness of contracting the virus. They’re afraid of socializing and are increasing the use of take out and contactless delivery orders. Restaurants are nearly empty, while drive-through lines at McDonald’s wind across parking lots and out into the street. People are accepting the fact that they can’t attack the virus like they can people who attack them. All they can do is try to stay safe and keep their families safe. But their frustration with the restrictions is still with them.

In the midst of the pandemic George Floyd was murdered by a police officer. Local riots became state rioting, then national and then international. They citizens of London, England had nothing to do with Mr. Floyd’s death, but there were demonstrations there, and in places like Syria, where a mural of Floyd was painted on a wall with “I can’t breathe” painted in English. In one sense this makes no sense at all. Historically, reactions to the killing of a black person were confined to the city in which they happened. The world-wide reaction seems irrational on its face. The catalyst that spawned world-wide demonstrations were Mr Floyd’s words, “I can’t breathe”. That sentence resonated with the world in the middle of a viral pandemic in which a major symptom of the disease respiratory failure. Victims of Covid-19 who become so sick they have to be put on a ventilator very seldom come off the machine alive. People can relate to those words because of their very real fear of not being able to breathe themselves.

The link between George Floyd’s not being able to breathe because of a policeman’s knee on his neck and lung failure due to the virus seems at first to be an error in logic. It seems at to be the same as saying that a car is grey and it has the trunk in the front, and an elephant is gray and has its trunk in the front, therefore the car is an elephant, or vice versa. But the word breathe has other meanings. It is also a symbol of a threat, like breathing down one’s neck. And, it also means being oppressed by a person or government. Not being able to breathe in that context means a lack of freedom. It means not having the rights that others in society have.

This form of oppression is commonly associated with black people because of the fight against slavery in England, the United States, and other countries. But it applies to Native Americans, Mexican Americans, Jews and other ethnic groups. And, it applies to women. For a long time women could not vote in the United States. To some extent they were thought of as the servants, if not property of their husbands. In some countries they are. And women still are paid less then men doing the same job. Often they can do the job better than men. No legitimate reason exists for the difference in pay. Mormons believe that anyone not belonging to the LDS church are “the lesser of the people”, as LDS President Gordon Hinkley called them. The Book of Mormon says black skin is a curse from God and white skin is “delightsome”. During World War Two Japanese Americans were put into concentration camps much like the Germans were interning Jews, although the Japanese here were treated much better. German Americans were not interned.

So then, Mr. Floyd’s words resonated with every person in every country. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, if you’ll pardon the worn-out cliche’. It resonates with the black people, the Hispanics, Jews, Japanese in America and Americans in Japan. It resonates with people who are angry at the constant surveillance by marketers, advertising companies and increasingly by governments. It resonates with the homeless, with the uneducated and it resonates with women. I can’t breathe became the rallying cry of people fed up with oppression in all forms.

God is no respecter of persons, with the exception that the Jews are His chosen people. But even with that, He treats all people the same. In the Bible the Song of Solomon, the Song of Songs, speaks to Solomon’s love for a woman of a different race, though that is often skipped over. In the New Testament, John wrote that God so loves all people that whosoever comes to Him will be saved (John 3:16). John didn’t write that any Jew or other person exclusive of others would be saved. God told John to write whosoever will. That includes Jews,gentiles, blacks, Hispanics, whites, Japanese, women, and everyone else. God will accept anyone who comes to Him and accepts Christ Jesus as Savior. God hates prejudice and oppression.

God also hates stiff-necked, stubborn people who act in ways contrary to His commands.Throughout history, God has stricken down people and nations who do not follow His will rather than their own. Petty prejudices keep us from God both individually and corporately. But God says that if a person or a people will repent of their evil ways and follow Him, He will forgive their iniquities and heal them. The main theme of the book of Jeremiah is God’s judgement on Judah for forsaking Him. But Jeremiah also wrote that if Judah would repent of sin and come to Him He world heal their land (Jeremiah 18:4-11; 26:1-11; See chapters 1-29; also Revelation 2:5).

Societies are comprised of individuals. Therefore, change in any nation, England, Syria, the United States or any other country starts with the individual citizen. Change in your country starts with you. The rallying against sin in all forms starts with you. If you’re not a Christian, you need to accept Him as your Savior because, contrary to popular opinion, there is no other Savior, there is no other way to God.

If you are a Christian then it’s your responsibility to God to live according to His commandments and to go into your community and witness to others. The only way that the people of this world will be able to breathe is for all persons and all nations to come to Him. That will happen eventually, but it’s going to be a long trip. It’s your responsibility to God to take the first step now.

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