We live in a world where we are closely connected to each other, maybe more so than we realize. Our collective failure or flourishing is dependent on each other doing the right thing. The current Coronavirus brings to light something that has always been true, we constantly live in a web of relationships that each decision we make reverberates out into the world through our relationships. There are very few decisions we make on a daily basis that doesn’t have negative or positive consequences in the world in which we live. We all live in a web of relationships, intimately connected to each other. This has always been the case, not just as it relates to the current pandemic.
God created the world in a way that our collective flourishing is dependent on each other. How cool is that? Our decisions affect the people around us and therefore our decisions can be good news to the people we come in contact with or in this case, not come in contact within our neighborhood.
Jesus made this clear when he said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” God requires the action of us “to do” something for others. Yet, as Ken Wytsma in his book Pursuing Justice points out,
“American culture, however, has twisted the golden rule into the silver rule ‘Don’t do unto others as we wouldn’t have them do to us.’ And that one extra word – Not – makes all the difference.” Wytsma goes onto explain that the golden rule requires action whereas the silver rule allows passivity, neutrality, individualism, and allows us to opt-out of doing anything for others that might do harm to ourselves or require self-sacrifice.
The American way is individualistic at its core. We believe we are the maker of our own destiny and that we can make it on our own without anyone’s help. We don’t like people telling us what to do with our lives, especially the government. Though being individualistic can be good, it does have it’s shadow side of selfishness, pride, and perceived invincibility. But if anything has taught us recently from the coronavirus is that we are more connected than we realize and we need to be people of action who will “do.” Even if this “do” is staying home for a few weeks.
We have the collective power to change the trajectory of the pandemic if we all realize that we are all connected in our decisions. There are people in our world with compromised immune systems that are dependent on others making wise decisions for the betterment of everyone. Even today the virus has hit very healthy people, forcing them to lay low. Being one of the “healthy” ones can lend itself to individualistic tendencies that can do damage to others. This individualistic way of life not how God designed the world.
Consider when God created the world. There was a system, a reason as to why he created certain things first. The water was created before water animals were created, the land and sky were created before land animals and birds. Then he created humans after everything was ready for us. Everything in creation is dependent on each other, food, air, water, etc. God designed creation to be dependent on each other and ultimately dependent on Him for its flourishing. The question is what will we do with the power God has given us, individually and collectively?
Each of us has a responsibility to each other, to care for each other, “to do unto others as we would have them do unto us” because our collective flourishing is dependent on each other.