• Foundations of Truth

A Tale of Two Tragedies

In Romans 12:12, the church is encouraged to be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” These words fall heavy on the hearts of many of us who are weary from the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic and the racially charged protests that have rocked our nation.

The Chief Scientist for the World Health Organization said recently that a vaccine for COVID-19 is not likely to be widely available until the summer of 2021, meaning that, for the foreseeable future, our lives will continue to be governed by restrictions. [1]

The recent death of Breonna Taylor during a police raid has led to continued protests and confrontations in Louisville, Kentucky, especially after a grand jury refused to charge the officers responsible. [2]

This seems like a tale of two tragedies. These simultaneous crises have left many people’s faith shattered in the hope of our American future. In fact, a recent study estimates that the number of Americans experiencing symptoms of clinical depression has almost tripled to 25% as of September 2020. [4]

Our country has become divided and polarized with protests related to both crises. There is hostility everywhere, even when those involved are acting with the best of intentions.

Earlier this year, protesters against COVID-19 restrictions were called “selfish” but protesters in New York demonstrated against the restrictions for a very different reason: the right to see their loved ones in nursing homes.[6]

In Minnesota, several elderly individuals died, at least in part, due to social isolation. [7] While it might have seemed reasonable to lock down nursing homes, the fact is that isolation from love and human contact is, itself, a health risk, especially for the elderly.

In the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests, Angela Bell, an assistant professor of psychology at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. told CNN that “It's almost impossible not to be a racist growing up in the US.” [5] While she meant the statement as a comment on systemic inequality, to call all Americans “racist” is unfair.

Many words have an inherent connotation attached to them. “Racists” are universally considered morally bad people, being called one thus makes you a morally bad person. That is not what she meant…but that is the message she conveyed.

In both examples, it is clear that what our nation needs is a little more compassion. The views of our opponents are oftentimes far more nuanced than we are willing to admit.

If our nation is to weather the coming storms, we need to take the advice given in Ephesians 4:32 to be “kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

In short, we need to show one another empathy. This is a fact that researchers on political polarization discovered while researching ways to overcome political differences: it turns out that to make successful arguments to one’s opponents, it is crucial to have empathy for their values systems! [8]

In Colossians 3:12-13 Christians are comforted and encouraged to show warmth and goodness to a world deprived of its gentleness: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

We must show the compassion that Jesus Christ showed to us and to love our opponents, even when we disagree. In times like this, we are all bitterly reminded of the fallenness of our world. Despite these concurrent tragedies, it is a prime opportunity for Christians to bring God’s goodness where it is so desperately needed.

Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.

[1] John Bacon and Joel Shannon “WHO: People will probably start getting vaccinated in mid-2021,” USAToday (September 27, 2020), https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/09/27/covid-news-trump-gop-attack-nc-voting-rules-wisconsin-cases-boom/3551974001/

[2] N'dea Yancey-Bragg, Ben Tobin, and Andrew Wolfson, “'Release the transcripts': Ben Crump slams decision in Breonna Taylor case, calls out systemic racism in the legal system,” USAToday (September 25, 2020), https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/09/25/breonna-taylor-family-ben-crump-slam-decision-release-transcripts/3530842001/

[3] Connor Perrett, “If the police officer who shot Jacob Blake can prove he feared an 'imminent risk of death or great bodily harm,' his shooting could be legally justified,” Insider (August 29, 2020), https://www.insider.com/jacob-blake-police-shot-from-back-legal-2020-8

[4] Catherine K. Ettman, et al., “Prevalence of Depression Symptoms in US Adults Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” JAMA Network (September 2, 2020), https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2770146?widget=personalizedcontent&previousarticle=0

[5] John Blake, “'Am I racist?' You may not like the answer,” CNN (June 20, 2020), https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/20/us/racist-google-question-blake/index.html

[6] Khristina Narizhnaya and Laura Italiano, “Protesters demand nursing home visits outside Gov. Cuomo’s NYC office,” New York Post (September 12, 2020), https://nypost.com/2020/09/12/protesters-demand-nursing-home-visits-outside-cuomos-nyc-office/

[7] “Isolated during the pandemic, seniors are dying of loneliness and their families are demanding help.” TwinCities (June 24, 2020), https://www.twincities.com/2020/06/19/isolated-during-the-pandemic-seniors-are-dying-of-loneliness-and-their-families-are-demanding-help/

[8] “Empathy is key to political persuasion, shows new research,” EurekaAlert! (November 16, 2015), https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-11/uotr-eik111615.php


Foundations of Truth hereby waive all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.