If there’s one rule that most of us can get behind, it’s the Golden Rule—”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matthew 7:12). Its Old Testament counterpart is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18).
Whichever version you prefer, the period during which we are living, the 2020-2022 Pandemic, poses difficult challenges. We are surrounded by so many dissonant voices that it’s hard to know whom and what to believe. Can scripture help?
At its peak, Covid-19 shut everything down and overwhelmed our healthcare system. Unfamiliar words like variant, PPE, and co-morbidity entered the vocabulary. Thousands, then tens of thousands, now close to one million, have died in our country alone.
Then, mirabile dictu, the vaccine arrived, and we were reassured. Practically everyone would get it at no cost, and we would take off those masks and go shopping. Would that it were that simple.
Instead, It’s complicated. Not everyone has chosen to get vaccinated, some because they don’t believe in it, some because they are against vaccines generally, and some for other reasons. In New Hampshire we are at about 70%, which is higher than the country as a whole. We live in a split society, and “Are you vaccinated?” has become a question that some ask while others do not for fear of invading another person’s privacy, or worse.
Besides, even if you get jabbed twice and double boosted, you can still catch Covid-19. But still, the vaccinated and boosted ones don’t seem to end up in the hospital or dead. That appeals to me.
Whether to get a second booster may be a matter of individual choice, but if you’re immune-compromised or old, infectious disease specialists think it’s a good idea. Being of the over-80 persuasion, I fall into that group. If a third booster comes along, I suppose I’ll get that too.
Masks are another problem. Apart from playing cops and robbers as kids, most of us never wore one until 2020. Now, our hats and jackets compete for hook space with masks of all types and colors. Some of them it seems, the attractive cloth ones, aren’t very effective.
In February, I went to a conference in California and hardly anyone was wearing a mask. The N95 I wore on the plane left my nose sore, so I was glad to shed mine. But then, just the other day, nearly everyone in Washington tested positive after attending a function, so I’ve put mine back on. It’s become a habit, like wearing a necktie used to be.
Certain kinds of home testing kits have long been available at drug stores. Last year, testing for Covid-19 at home became a thing, and if you asked a drug store clerk when the next shipment of test kits would arrive, you got shrugged shoulders. Now you can email the government and get them at no cost.
I grew up when people still got polio, which is also an infectious disease caused by a virus. Along came Dr. Salk in the 1950s, most Americans got the vaccine without a lot of controversy that I can recall, and polio largely disappeared. This comparison isn’t exact, but until something better comes along in this pandemic, it makes sense to take medical science seriously, rather than to bury our heads under the pillow, or in the sand.
The Books of Matthew and Leviticus, and other biblical texts, are always timely. Taking care of ourselves has a lot to do with not harming others.