What Has 2020 Taught Us?
This has been quite a year and it shows no signs of letting up. Given my belief that 1. God controls history, and 2. He has a reason for allowing the things He allows, I look for His purpose. Usually, His purpose is tied to our enlightenment, so I’m compelled to take an inventory -- what have we learned, what should we have learned, from the pileup of awfulness we’re experiencing?
In my valley, over two thousand homes have burned to the ground, the landscape littered with lonely chimneys standing forlorn amidst the ashes. Neither the Shakespearean theater nor the outdoor Britt Theater opened this summer -- and that’s a chunk of our revenue. The wine from this year will no doubt have a smoky taste. This kind of disaster is repeated all over the country. What is this about?
It doesn’t take long to arrive at a God-is-punishing-us conclusion, and well He may be -- our debauchery and corruption certainly deserves a comeuppance. But that’s not my point.
My point is that we should be much wiser than we were on this last New Year. I hope that we’ve learned at least some of the following:
The first lesson was an embarrassing one -- we learned that of all things, toilet paper was at the top of our list, our foremost requirement for deliverance. We didn’t rush to buy Bibles, or to go to church to pray. Instead, we stood in long lines at Costco to purchase a Charmin facsimile. That should have told us that something was really wrong with our thinking.
The second lesson is about fear. We’ve had a bellyful. Fear is not, should not, be a constant state. Our bodies are built for surges of adrenalin, but not for an everyday, chronic condition. Some of us tossed it off, preferring a state of belligerence to a state of anxiety, but many of us continue in paralyzing fear. Some of us live in financial fear, in parental fear – how are parents supposed to work from and homeschool their children? -- in fear of more fear. Way too many of us gave up and committed suicide. Then the riots started. Then the fires, the hurricanes, the election. I do hope that with all this practice we’ve learned courage, and that we’ve learned we must depend on God and His infinite mercy. We cannot fight this on our own.
We also should have developed an antipathy towards the media. They have been culpable in spreading and stoking these fears. They have twisted statistics, adulterated the language, slung clueless accusations, and propped up asinine excuses for the violence. “It was a mostly peaceful protest,” he said, with buildings burning behind him.
Next, I certainly hope that most of us have realized that we live in an economy that is so interconnected, so interdependent, that we can’t safely just shut it down and we certainly can’t shut down just part of it. We are all absolutely essential. If schools shut down, parents can’t go to work. If parents don’t go to work, they don’t earn money to buy things, and stores don’t have customers, so they don’t buy from the suppliers, who end up having to slaughter their herds and plow under their fields. Everything is dependent on every other thing and if you pull one string, the whole fabric starts unwinding. We need each other -- in full capacity, and at our best.
And, we can no longer turn a blind eye to ideas being taught in our schools. For one thing, we know what school curricula contains because we got to peek into those classes when our kids were “distance learning,” and because we got to see first-hand the product these schools put out when BLM and Antifa began torching cities. Who are these people? Where did they get the idea that America is the world’s boogieman? How much did we spend to teach our children this hogwash? I hope we’ve learned that turning our children over to the government for their education is not a good idea. Maybe we’ll no longer want to spend $70K a year for a college education since we’ve discovered that our kids have majored in throwing Molotov cocktails and shouting obscenities. Education has consequences.
I also hope we’ve learned to question “the experts.” Up until COVID we kowtowed obediently to anyone with any kind of fancy degree, anyone with an important-sounding government position, anyone wearing a lab coat. I suspect that after nearly seven months of Fauci and Birx and their contradictory attempts to sterilize the world, that we take to questioning the so-called experts a little more carefully. We should have learned that from the climate-change nonsense, but it evidently took a second dose for the lesson to sink in. What is the lesson? -- When an “expert” opinion contradicts common sense, common sense has more clout. Let’s not forget that.
Then, we should have learned that careful, precise thinking is far more valuable than all the emotion in the world. We cannot make public policy according to how angry or guilty or scared we are. We need to make policy according to the mainstream culture, not according to the outliers. We can make exceptions for the fringes, who may be outliers through no fault of their own, but we cannot risk building the culture around the exceptions. If there are occasional police who are cruel or unfair or corrupt, then we should get rid of them; such people who conduct themselves in such ways, have no business policing the rest of us. But you don’t then vilify all cops, fire all police, and then send in batteries of social workers –- a profession that, if truly successful would have eradicated criminal behavior before it even started.
Next, I hope that we’ve learned that we can’t just quit living. I hope the irony of trying to save our lives by shrinking our lives to mere existence is not lost on us. I hope we’ve learned how precious freedom is –- for a free people to be suddenly told to stay home, to always wear masks, to try sterilizing everything we touch should have been a major alarm bell to us all. What? We can’t go to church? We can’t have weddings? We can’t have funerals? We can’t sing?? Government control of everything is not what any of us want to live with. It’s counter to human nature, stifling creativity and accomplishment. We were, I believe, put on this earth to choose, and government can’t take that away from us without provocation. But they have and we can’t let that happen again.
Lastly, I hope against hope that we have learned that we are all Americans first, and that Americans pay attention to God’s Word, to His mandates for how we should live our lives and that straying too far from that is very costly indeed. We’ve turned our backs on God’s instructions so long that we’ve bred a couple of generations filled with people who have no core conception of right and wrong, no compassion, no sense of divine purpose or guidance, and they run amuck because they lack good guidance and good family support. We’ve made a form of nitroglycerin and the lockdowns served as a good shakeup, and this generation exploded. That also should not happen again.
I don’t know that we’ve learned these lessons, but I pray we have. The election will tell. Meanwhile, I’m stocking up on toilet paper.