President Franklin Roosevelt had to personally deal with the effects of the health scourge of his time — polio. When faced with the depths of the Great Depression, he stood up for his first inaugural address and declared, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
It is sad now that so many faced with COVID-19 and the economic fallout from it seem to have nothing to offer but fear itself. So much fear that they want us all to hide from it.
In the name of this fear, they declare “science” dictates that we keep our businesses and churches closed. This, of course, holds us back from both financial and spiritual relief at a time we seriously need both. Most of what is being claimed as “science” is mostly statistical analysis, computer projections, almost all of which are turning out to be wrong. True science depends on fact gathering, hypothesis, experimentation and fact gathering again to see if you are right.
Most of our public policies today are being formed from the early hypothesis stage while ignoring the individual state experiments and the facts arising from them. Florida and Texas took different approaches from New York and New Jersey and have gotten better results.
As for faith, some have questioned how going to church is any different than going to the grocery store in terms of exposure. This is a valid question to ask. And yet a recent opinion writer to The Californian seemed to think that spending 30 to 45 minutes in the same room together was so much worse because they couldn’t trust churches to take reasonable precautions ("Letter to the Editor: Shopping verses church," May 14). I would like to ask that commentator if they timed themselves the last time they went to a grocery store, hardware store or variety store allowed to be open? Once you combine standing in the socially distanced line, shopping, purchasing and exiting, it can often exceed those church services.
There are a few other positive factors that faith provides. It provides hope and the positive outcomes of group prayer answered by a God who can change things. I, and many with me, believe that the God who created the immune system can strengthen it to overcome a virus. That he can mutate the virus to make it harmless. And that Easter, which we were just forbidden to celebrate, proves he can even raise the dead. We do not dictate to God how he does it, but he does hear and answer prayer.
To claim that churches will act irresponsibly shows prejudice. I admit, I am by nature a hugger, but wisdom tells me I must put that on hold. I will wear a mask and keep socially distant, not out of fear, but out of consideration for others. That fulfills the principle of “love thy neighbor as thyself.” To provide a confirmation to that, Ecclesiastes also says, “To everything there is a season…, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing”.
At any rate, it is time to get back to balance in California. We need to step out in faith, with wisdom, and reopen our churches and businesses.
Tim Stormont is a local architect and east Bakersfield resident.