Like many places, Covid is a continual discussion in ministry circles. When we became aware of covid, precautions were taken to manage the risk. These procedures were eased up, and now they’re coming back. One field, mental health and its practitioners, communicated concern about the risk management techniques. In the ministry world the question is how to relate to people during this time. Here is what is missing: We did not stop being human when covid hit. We are still human with human needs, emotions, and frailty. We cannot put our humanity on pause
When studying political philosophy, my professor made us read a section by Blaise Pascal on diversion. In this discussion it became apparent that the worst punishment is isolation because people cannot stand to be alone with their thoughts. Suddenly our society is full of free time to be alone with our thoughts. Too many were not able to cope with this. Covid reveals to us the need to be much more introspective and not hide from ourselves. We need a better mental health plan, we are, after all, human.
The present struggle is the first time this generation really had to face its own mortality. This combined with isolation is not a good thing. The reality is that you cannot control life and one day you will die. Because of our diversions, we do not wrestle with these important questions. Alan Bloom in his book “The Closing of the American Mind,” deals with the problem of our lack of intellectual pursuit. We write things off because we think it is for another day, but that day is now here. Mortality is part of humanity, and to be human is to live with the risks in mind.
Throughout the entirety of my ministry, the issue of kids being too safe has grown. While no one wants their kid to get hurt, we robbed a couple generations of failure. This leaves many ill-prepared for risk management. Life in this present time is about risk management. Treating covid as nothing is foolish, but hiding is not helpful either. Every choice we make carries an element of risk and unpredictability. In the human experience, sometimes good enough is all there is, so we accept the risk.
Why should I bring up these dreary issues? Because we are still human and need to live. We need human interaction. We need hugs. We need to date, play, hear music, watch plays, work, eat, celebrate, mourn. We need to do human things because we are human. The better safe than dead argument squelches our humanity. We have to mourn, we have to celebrate. Humans need to live, and we are not.
In all things in life, we must use wisdom. Part of wisdom is remembering our humanity. Part of wisdom is learning to live with the risks that surround us. Part of wisdom is knowing that our career path will put us in harms way. Ecclesiastes tells us that God allows both prosperity and hardships so that we cannot know what comes next. We cannot escape our humanity, we can only live it. And live we must, for we are still human. Covid does not change that.