Another Reason for the COVID-19 Closure Craze

Sadly, the COVID-19 period of American history will be studied for generations. Significant politicization of the issue and how it was used to advance personal ambitions in egregious ways is a much-discussed topic, especially on Capitol Hill. A recent exchange between Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and former Director of National Intelligence of the United States John Ratcliffe is jarring.

At the beginning of the pandemic, all the experts knew the virus was born in a lab. Ratcliffe, as the Director of National Intelligence, knew that. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo knew it came from a lab. The top public health official, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, a virologist, testified he thought it came from a lab. Yet, somehow, Dr. Anthony Fauci and others were allowed to paint that as a "conspiracy theory," arguing instead that it was clearly of "natural origins."

Former DNI Ratcliffe: "The best evidence of that is their conversations, which say that they didn't want unwanted attention to the relationships that were taking place between Western virologists and those working within the Wuhan Institute of Virology and funding sources for some of that research."

Rep. Jordan: "Yeah, our money to a lab in China that wasn't up to code that was doing gain-of-function research, and that's where this thing came from."

The whole thing is maddening. There was the social distancing, the wiping off groceries when you got home from the store. There was the use of masks and the tightening of hospital and even funeral visits. There was, of course, the COVID shot and all the controversies surrounding that. Also, the massive lockdowns that were so harmful, especially to our children, in terms of unnecessary school closures that have dramatically impacted their lives and learning skills.

The question is not, why did the government push all this -- others are focusing on that. Instead, why did we allow it? Why would Americans go along with the farce and the drastic upending of our lives in the face of evidence strongly suggesting it was unnecessary?

Fear is a significant contributor -- fear and manipulation. We didn't know how harmful this virus was. They told us we would all die, so the majority, understandably, believed "the experts." The media also despicably manipulated us with our loved ones. You get the shot "for your loved ones, to protect them," they told us. That message was powerful for millions with elderly parents and other family members.

But there is another aspect - the "pause," the break from commerce and work. We wanted it. In many ways, we desperately needed it. America has made an idol of business. The pressure of working to get ahead and not let others pass you by is immense, and millions are tired. This, too, made us susceptible to allowing others to "force" us into it.

As an associate pastor, along with my day job, I can see this attitude contributing to many members going along with unnecessary church closings. Church life, too, can get overly busy. If leaders and pastors are not careful, they can put enormous pressure on staff and volunteers in various unhealthy ways.

So, like the child pretending to be sick to get an unscheduled break from school, in a way, we went along with the madness because it gave us the perk of much-needed rest from the American way of "productivity." It gave us time with family -- a much-needed time for deep human connection.

As America has become more secularized, we have neglected the wisdom of God. And rest is part of that wisdom. But God's statutes are based on truth, not personal preferences or imaginary, unnecessary devotions to a deity. Therefore, we ignore God's principles at our own peril. The commandment, "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God" (Exodus 20:8) reflects our reality. It reflects the way we were made.

It recognizes that we are more than the material from which we were made; we have a soul. The burnout that so many experience today is really an emotional, mental, and spiritual experience, much more than a mere physical one. We are cyclical beings. There is rhythm and harmony to life. Even those who are not religious can recognize that. We need rest. But we have neglected this principle in our culture, not to mention our public policy.

If you had to guess, how many Americans would you say, "Remember the Sabbath"? Not many. Even those who would answer that question in terms of going to church miss the bigger connotations of the holy principle. We have lost most laws that encouraged Sabbath keeping. On the contrary, the 24-hour, 7 days-a-week, 365 days-of-the-year nonstop work is what is celebrated.

But for a period, during the pandemic, that trend was broken, and that part of it felt good. Many needed that break. It was long overdue. But it need not get to that point.

We should learn from this. Personally and culturally, Americans should value rest, familial connections, and strong community bonds much more than we have in recent memory. We should go back to recognizing the divine principle of Sabbath-keeping and enact laws that better reflect how we were created.

Mario Diaz, Esq is senior counsel for Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization and an associate pastor of ministry in Woodbridge, VA.   

Image: Elvert Barnes

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