Saturday, January 30, 2021

COVID Fatigue...

We're all tired of COVID. At the risk of complaining about our discomfort at a time when many are still endangered by the Coronavirus, and some have succumbed to it, we must acknowledge the fact that we are suffering from "COVID fatigue." And while this isn't as life-threatening as the actual disease can be, it does drag down the morale of an entire nation--or world--and cause us to be far, far less than our best.

It can also tear us apart. We have blamed partisan politics for the mess this most recent election was, but I wonder how much of a role COVID played? Some suggest that we have a new President because of the failure of the old one to conquer COVID, despite launching a valiant effort to create a vaccine against it in record time. One wonders if the weariness of that discovery had some part in the lack of energy expended by the former administration at "administering" the vaccine and enforcing life-saving restrictions on the populace. Maybe it's time we acknowledge that the division, anger, and malaise we are experiencing may have, at least in part, their center in a global pandemic.

I'm not suggesting we forget our differences in political philosophies, nor should we disregard the disruptive--and sometimes destructive--behavior the former ruling party exhibited after the election. But we have had these differences before, and without such vitriol and insurrectionist activity. Could it be that "COVID fatigue" goes way beyond just how we individually feel? Perhaps it has affected us en masse, like some kind of a weird alien force written as a plot theme in a Star Trek episode? The pandemic certainly plays out a science fiction narrative when we admit it has taken us "where no one has gone before" (at least in our generation).

So, what do we do about it, if true? First of all, we should pray for the current administration, and cooperate to get the pandemic under control. We all should drop resistance to the medical cautionary means of safety--social distancing, mask-wearing, hand-washing, and staying home as much as possible. Yes, the "fatigue" has caused many of us to strike out against these precautions, even to do foolish things like visiting bars and restaurants, holding parties, and traveling to places with extremely high COVID numbers just because we "need to get away." But if we are going to beat this thing, we need to get "back on that horse" and do the responsible thing, ASAP. 

Secondly, we should all plan to get the vaccine as soon as it is available. Listen to the science. I have had discussions with persons who say they don't want to get the vaccine because of how fast it was created. Trials were advanced quickly, but the best medical minds have assured us of the safety of it, and given that the trials have occurred over some time, and were there adverse side-effects, they would have emerged by now. The vaccines thus far approved are safe, and effective--again, according to the best medical minds. These are people much, much smarter than any of us, and they have received the vaccine as a sign of their own trust in its efficacy. Widespread vaccination is the only "ultimate" way to get this pandemic under control. Other means which some advocate--such as letting the Coronavirus go unchecked until "herd immunity" is achieved--will result in much suffering, and most likely death for many. Using this method is the height of selfishness, especially if driven by individual fears and "rights."

What is the role of our Christian spirituality in all of this? As mentioned earlier, prayer is an important factor. Beyond this, our Christian teachings call us away from these individual fears and personal "rights" toward doing what is best for the common good. Masks, social-distancing, avoiding unnecessary assembly, and getting vaccines are the "Christian" things to do! Also, we may call upon our spiritual disciplines to give us strength and comfort to get through it, along with our families, and to draw on our "better angels" to think about others and how they may be impacted by our negative actions. Love in action is the best spiritual "vaccine" for what is tearing us apart right now.

[ASIDE: As I was writing this, I happened across the ending of the old film, "Oh God!" with the late superstars, George Burns and John Denver. For those too young to have seen the movie, God appears as an old man in a fishing hat and flannel shirt (Burns) with the message that God cares for all of us, and that we should care for each other. Denver plays "Jerry," who, like a modern prophet, is called by God to deliver this message. We should all hear this message today, in the midst of this pandemic. God does care about all of us, and we should care for each other!  God has this word for Jerry toward the end of the film: "I gave a message of encouragement, you passed it, and now we'll see!"]

One more thing: We should stop trying to crucify one another over the political differences. Right now, the way they are ginned up may be a symptom of COVID-19. That reminds me of another Star Trek episode...maybe later. 

May today be a day of peace for you and your family. And may it be one more day toward an end to this awful pandemic for all of us. Shalom.

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