This article examines the link between leadership and fear, using our reactions to current events. The flu occurs every year, with different strains and virility. Past methods for controlling it include; isolation, quarantine, good hygiene, disinfectants, and restricting public gatherings. These limit transmission. They are common sense and should be voluntarily observed in a free society.
Freedom is not license to do whatever one wants, but directed toward doing good—it is moral and therefore responsible. You can act, but not in a way that knowingly harms another. Choices are an made by individuals, and just laws enacted for instances where doing wrong is chosen. But whose values should be used to determine what’s wrong?
Morality’s true basis lies in our God given negative rights. These support individual’s making decisions. Jewish authorities and Christian church fathers have written about these for centuries. Man’s morality has its basis in what he wants today. The difference lies in this. God commands something because it is right; man is right because he commands something. God’s values should be used to determine wrong.
Let’s begin by looking at last century’s pandemics. They are instructive. All statistics come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).[i] The 2003 SARS outbreak is included as it is a coronavirus; this year’s flu is a new variation.
|Year||Origination||Global Cases||Global Deaths||U.S. Cases||U.S. Deaths|
|1918||Unknown*||500 Million||50 Million||35 Million||675 Thousand|
|1957||China||?||1.1 Million||?||116 Thousand|
|1968||Hong Kong||?||1 Million||?||100 Thousand|
|2009||U.S.||?||151-575 Thou.||60.8 Million||12.5 Thousand|
* First American cases within soldiers returning from World War I in Europe.
The figures for the current outbreak were as of March 23, the most current ones available when this was written. The risk is serious if we do not act wisely.
So far, this outbreak is smaller than earlier pandemics. The protective measures cited above and restricting travel from infected areas are reasonable. Those actions are intended to lessen the disease’s impact. We must remember the U.S. government did nothing during the 2009 swine flu pandemic, and no concern was expressed. But it turned into the largest flu outbreak since 1918. So why is this year different? Why the fear this time?
Our Actions …
I’ve seen a little of both the President’s and Virginia Governor’s news conferences and releases. They are quite different. The President calls us to help and provides guidelines so we know how to go about it. His updates are full of people and organizations stepping forward to help—serving others. And he thanks them for their efforts. He displays leadership through service, as taught in the Bible. We decide how to help, and we are called to help.
He took early action limiting travel from infected areas and asked for limits on crowd sizes. The actions have merit. We have only to look at Iran. They recently encouraged people to come to Qom for the annual pilgrimage made by Shia Muslims. Millions came, and today it is one of the largest flu hotspots outside China.
Virginia’s Governor, on the other hand, has dictated who would be allowed to remain open, and under what conditions, enforcing compliance through closure and criminal charges. The first approach asks our help, the latter commands our obedience through command and control.
.. and Why They Matter
Virginia’s Governor is liberal, and liberal actions have a common theme. There is an end that must be achieved. The means used matter little. Their actions employ man’s morality; not God’s.
Internal controls (checks and balances) are put into place, not for when good men hold office, but when bad ones do. Crises provide opportunity to change these controls through prerogative. Prerogative is privilege granted to one with authority. It is based on moral character, and used when current law and policies are insufficient. Good men should be granted greater prerogative, and bad men less.
You are either free or not. There is no such thing as partial power. Do you responsibly make your own decisions, or are they made for you? The first is proper, the latter morally wrong. Losing one’s freedom often occurs during panic—whether real or manufactured. Look for government to help, and it often will. The difference lies in how.
Vice President Pence beautifully outlined federalism this weekend. Local decision makers act, states coordinate, and federal government supports. Liberalism, on the other hand, is about power. Man’s morality reigns; government commands. Government help comes with strings, one’s increasing its power at your expense. Crises set precedents. Declare a new emergency later and use it to expand them. No free people remains free long when they abdicate their personal responsibility. You cannot have freedom without personal responsibility.
We each should make responsible decisions to help using God’s values. While the Governor may have some legitimate ends, his means are not. He is morally wrong. He should be coordinating and supporting local Virginia governments.
A History Lesson
Think this is far-fetched? It’s already happened. Christopher Caldwell’s timely article titled The Roots of Our Partisan Divide[i] discusses why today’s party and ideological divisions exist.
I’ll cut to the chase. Liberals (Democrats) won the 1960’s debates. The Bible and prayer were removed from school. Sex liberated. A few years later, judges approved killing the unborn in Roe vs. Wade. War on poverty legislation reduced some to economic servitude. Finally, civil rights laws also passed. The article focuses on civil rights law abuses.
Initially aimed at correcting racial discrimination within the south, these laws were used to create additional rulings and rights for women, the disabled, aged, immigrants, today’s gender insanity, etc. All supported and enforced by a judiciary and bureaucracy developed under the Wilson administration and greatly expanded by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. These actions are neither constitutional nor moral. They create different classes of citizens; when we are all created equal by God. The law’s application denies that core truth. So why were they done?
Two Shared Characteristics
Ironically, these government actions were made in the name of morality. It just happens to be man’s morality and values, applying pagan ideas that always fail. They rely on man alone. Man by himself is inadequate. He requires something greater than himself to succeed. For more on this topic, see two previous article on liberalism’s fruit and its ideas.
The author calls the second characteristic intersectionality. This one is sociological. Civil rights legislation was originally limited to preventing racism in the southern states. It had history behind it. However, other groups soon learned to leverage this law for their own purposes, and a bureaucracy and judiciary eager to assist. The process created new political coalitions, each aiming to increase its power. These had no basis for existence without human law; the results of man defining his own morality.
This is history repeating itself. Rome’s republic ended when Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey plotted to divide the republic among themselves. Use pagan ideas, and you get their results—division, jealousy, envy, civil unrest, and war. These are Satan’s fruit, not God’s. The real issue is man looking to himself for the answers. He won’t find them there.
Are We Living in Fear?
I believe yes, many are. I’m reminded when I go into a grocery store and see the shelves these past couple of weeks. All the toilet paper is gone, but the threat is an upper respiratory disease. I’ve also witnessed a number of rather fearful conversations. Add to that the media’s overlooking its own hysteria. One minute warning us about becoming overly emotional, and the next irresponsibly ratcheting up fear themselves. This is emotional, and fear a strong emotion. The outages indicate some are afraid of being without for a long period of time. It could become a self-fulfilling prophecy if emotions are allowed to drive our behavior. Fear occurs when man places faith in himself, and realizes he is insufficient to the task—he has no control.
But we also have a great opportunity with these events. One to show Christ to others through our actions. This too requires faith—man turned toward God.
What’s the Answer?
Some won’t like the answer, but it’s simple. Live without fear, as we are called to do. It’s how we are called to live. This is a time to place our faith in God. Pray. Repent if you need to, and I know of no one who doesn’t. Then ask for mercy, give thanks for what you’ve been blessed with, and pray for others. Whatever you do, do it for the good of others in service—out of love. This is what we are called to do. What we choose to while we live matters. We only need to stand; the battle’s already won.
This is not our first trial. Whatever happens, we will get through it together. We must look after each other, care for each other, and make our own choices out of reason and not fear. Use our reason. That is God’s image. His gift to us all.
[i] Caldwell, Christopher, The Roots of Our Partisan Divide, Imprimus, Vol. 49, Number 2, Hillsdale College, February, 2002.
[i] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-pandemic-h1n1.html. Accessed March, 2020.