Tuesday 24 March 2020

Through the prism of the #Coronavirus leaders are devaluing human life

All days matter
Sometimes, you have to mine the rich seam of biblical stories to illustrate issues in our contemporary times. There is no better time to share an event in the ministry of Jesus Christ where he healed a woman who had been afflicted for 18 years on the Sabbath.
Having demonstrated compassion and mercy in the healing of the woman, the leader of the synagogue was livid with rage and indignation, completely oblivious of the amazing miracle, he remonstrated saying, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.Luke 13:14 (NKJV)
Obviously, the leader of the synagogue was keeping the law, the 4th commandment of the 10 delivered to Moses in the wilderness on tablets of stone.
8Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labour and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. Exodus 20:8-11 (NKJV)
No Sabbath for the pain
The leader of the synagogue did have a valid point, but there was another call to his humanity. I do remember clearly when I had cancer and the pain that was sometimes too otherworldly for description, the pain did not take a break on any day and not on our modern Sabbath of Sunday.
In fact, on one Sunday, the Fentanyl pain patch I wore on the skin of my belly had peeled off that I was in such pain until the effects of the newly applied patch kicked in, I laughed myself to delirium, my friend thinking I was having a psychotic event. I was relying on the endorphins released by laughter to assuage the pain.
Jesus responded, “Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? 16 So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?Luke 13:15-16 (NKJV)
By this, first Jesus was offering the primacy of works of necessity over everyday work. Leading a beast of burden to the water on the Sabbath was work but of necessity. Then, by comparison, he averred that healing on the Sabbath was a work of necessity as much is it was one of compassion for the woman that could not wait another day, even if she had been afflicted for 18 years.
Our humanity is paramount
This brings me to the handling of the Coronavirus pandemic in some countries, in the UK where the outrageous policy of pursuing herd immunity with regards to a virus for which there was no vaccine. The implication being the UK government was afraid for the cost and consequences to the economy if the country were locked down. They were ready to sacrifice the vulnerable, human beings to the capitalist machine.
It was in my view the most apathetic and dispassionate act of inhumanity a government was ready to visit upon its people just not to upset big business. Thankfully, reason prevailed, but it would be impossible to forgive the government for ever suggesting it and there can be no redemption for the thought process that allowed it. They had sided with the leader of the synagogue against the core element of our humanity to preserve and protect life.
Human beings over the economy
Over in America, Donald Trump is grappling with a situation over which he has little control. Just a month ago, he could boast of a record rising stock market and the best employment figures in US history. Today, the stock market is below the numbers when he took office on the 20th of January 2017 and unemployment figures are rising. The interventions from the Federal Reserve and Treasury have not stanched the stock market decline, the sentiment is broadly negative.
It appears Donald Trump is ready to go against the advice of the medical experts and truncate the measures put in place to limit the spread of the Coronavirus, in order to give a fillip to the economy. The risk is the Coronavirus will cut a larger swathe through the country and they would be in a worse place than they are now. Much as the economy is important, human beings run these economies and the machinery it depends on, human beings must always come first. [BBC]
America loving people more than money
As if this was not bad enough, the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, 69, who will be 70 in April suggested that the older generation of the 70s were ready to sacrifice themselves and die for the sake of America going back to work, because the Coronavirus was destroying America, and what he meant was destroying America’s economy.
You know, Tucker, no one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’ And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.” said Dan Patrick [Guardian]
It is interesting that “keeping the America that all America loves” was not people, else it would have included the parents and grandparents of the children and grandchildren. It does also make one wonder if Americans would be more predisposed to selling off their parents and grandparents. It must be plumbing the dregs of our humanity to rate the advancement of the economy over generational ties and familial love.
Yet, the Lieutenant Governor would have us believe that the greater love might be better expressed in espousing the American way than having our parents and grandparents with us. Let Coronavirus take them away, for they are expendable. The economy is the god of happiness and fulfilment.
The Sabbath was made for man
I appreciate that there are many in power that have neither the emotional intelligence nor the human compassion to see the value of humanity in the face of adversity. Human beings become an inconvenience in the pursuit of riches and legalism. Like the leader of the synagogue, what mattered most was keeping the law, damn the infirm, they can suffer another day or even die than be given succour, mercy, consideration, and healing on the Sabbath.
To which Jesus responded in another place in the gospels after healing another on the Sabbath, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.Mark 2:27 (NKJV)
For all the importance we want to place on the law and other activities, the human being and humanity comes first.
What is a life worth?
The question to those who think otherwise, you have to ask, “How much is a life worth?” Is it better to save life or to pursue our aims oblivious of the suffering? For the Good Samaritan saw value in the person of the helpless person who was robbed and left for dead by the wayside, just as a priest and another walked by. [The Parable of the Good Samaritan – Wikipedia]
The story that got told was of a plain Samaritan who happened to be kind, for it was his deed that saved a life, he went out of his way to act out of human kindness when he could have concentrated on the urgency of his own business. It is in recognition of his deeds that his story became that of the Good Samaritan. Human kindness is what creates the story of life that matters more than anything else.
This should be our thinking, those who are not able to put humanity first and do everything to save a life no matter the cost will be ready to sacrifice anyone including their children, parents, grandchildren, and grandparents to their other pursuits. Beware of these wolves, they are wickedness personified and evil beyond description.

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