Charting the Path: The Challenge
What’s next? Where do we go from here as we prepare to re-enter the world of the coronavirus pandemic? I searched the internet to see what questions people might be asking during this time and was surprised by the shortage of current information as to what’s on people’s minds.
I know as a nation we are divided as to when and how to emerge from sheltering in place. We can’t even agree on “to mask or to unmask”. And shamefully, people are even violent about that!
Businesses want to know when they can re-open and how to do it safely. Employees want to insure their workplace is safe and that they will be protected from potential infection.
And the rest of us, want to make sure we have the basics for living (at least I just want the basics)—food, water, shelter, and protection (especially from people who feel their will is more important than mine).
Questions for the Charting
Now that the nation is reopening, how do we begin to chart a path forward, especially in the midst of frayed emotions and opposing opinions? Can we move forward in the midst of this deadly pandemic? How can we balance public health with economic well-being? The bigger question for people of faith in this crisis is, “where is God and what is He saying to us?”
Moral Courage needed for charting the path
Last week I introduced the topic of courage in the midst of the coronavirus. I referenced two (2) types of courage—physical and moral courage. Physical courage is bravery in the face of physical pain, hardship, even death or threat of death. Moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, discouragement, or personal loss.
To date, popular opposition has been fierce on every aspect of managing this pandemic. It will further heighten upon re-entry, especially as we begin to develop strategies to move forward in this fight. Shame and personal loss is being experienced by those of us who must do without or ask for help as roles have been reversed because of financial losses due to COVID-19.
Moral courage is needed if America is to successfully move forward. To forge creative new methods to do their work, businesses with need moral courage. Moral courage will be essential as cities manage our communities with fewer resources. Individuals and families will need moral courage just to live one day at a time until a solution is developed.
The one thing we all must deal with is how to reconcile the loss of life and its further escalation as we no longer shelter in place. In charting a path forward, that reality and the ability to act rightly will be among the biggest challenges we will face.
Moral courage and fear
While the definitions of courage tend to infer that bravery is “without fear”, I’d like to offer the view that fear, in some instances, can provide the motivation for courageous acts. For example, we might fear the negative consequence that might occur if we choose to do nothing. In that case, fear of the negative consequence becomes the stimulus for action. Some have said that the re-opening of America is only the end of the first chapter in this crisis. Can fear of life with the coronavirus move us to exercise moral courage rather than choosing to do nothing?
Daniel Putman, professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, in an article entitled, The Emotions of Courage, offers a similar opinion that courage can involve deliberate choice in the face of painful or fearful circumstances, especially if something of value is at risk. Can the risks associated with the coronavirus move us to moral courage?
Choose moral courage
To close this teaching, I’d like to share five (5) commitments you can choose to make each day to begin exercising moral courage in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. I have added biblical texts to each for your reading and meditation.
Be faithful to God. Let the world see Jesus in you,
Be discerning. Examine everything carefully.
Be brave. Speak up. Show up. Stand up.
Persevere. Keep on even when it’s hard and messy.
Be generous. Return to others what God has gifted you with.
2 Corinthians 9:8-11
This list is by no means meant to be exhaustive. I invite you to add to them and share with us in the comments below or on the WordBytes Community Page.
Finally here is the answer to the question, “where is God and what is He saying to us?”
And the LORD, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8 (KJV)