Not my ways

You may see an uptick in posting over the next few days as I’m in self-imposed quarantine. I have over the last few days developed most of the symptoms of COVID-19. It feels like a mild case of flu but the most noticeable symptom is an intensely tight chest that feels constricted and ‘hot’. But I’m fine and so is my family. I won’t know for sure whether it is this virus or not because Stockholm health authorities are only testing those sick enough to go to the hospital. So hopefully I’ll never know for sure.

As a result, it seemed wisest to keep myself to myself for a few days. Which as a book & film lover has already caused a few people to wonder if I’m not just faking the whole thing. I’m not, I’d like to go for a run and that’s not happening for a few days.

With all this extra time on my hands I have, along with most of the internet-connected world, become something of an expert in this new virus. Which is to say I likely hold several conflicting opinions none of which is based on any evidence.

This has caused significant disruption already and more disruption is to come. Best laid plans and all that. Despite my advice to not panic, well that is what people are doing.

There have so far been differing reactions from national governments – some like New Zealand are in the position to control and are rightly doing so. Others have opted for mass shutdowns as China did in Wuhan and Italy are doing. My two nations, the UK and Sweden, seem to be operating from a different playbook. The video below explains the British approach to coronavirus (or here for the Chief Scientist himself).

On an individual level, we’re focused on one simple proposal: Don’t get sick. As a result, you may want the government to shut everything down, close the borders, shut the schools, send out the Army to monitor the shoppers and do whatever it takes to keep this virus at bay. We’ve been frightened by this virus and no one wants to get sick so this approach makes total sense.

That’s not how the British government is thinking. They are thinking the true number is already way bigger, not 1000 cases but 10,000 cases. It’s too late to stick that genie back in the bottle. So they are NOT thinking about how to prevent an outbreak but instead how to manage an outbreak.

Not only that but they’re not sure they even want to stop people getting sick now. Their argument is that the more people who get sick now and recover and by spreading out the demand, the greater the protection & resources there will be for the most vulnerable when they really need it at the epidemic’s peak. They might be wrong but it is at least a thought-through plan.

My ways are not their ways. My thoughts are not their thoughts.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

Every day I want God to do things for me and mostly to do them my way. I want Him to see things from my perspective to do everything possible so I won’t get sick. Or poor. Or hurt. Or exposed.

But there is a bigger picture, it’s not just me. There is more going on than I can know. There are decisions being made that may affect me negatively but could save others. Who knows? And the answer is, not me. I don’t know, no matter how much I’ve read on the internet.

These times and I’m not just talking about the coronavirus here, require way more humility than we seem to have the capacity for. For the last generation or more we’ve been told that we are indeed the centre of the universe and when it turns out we’re not, we cannot cope.

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labour on what does not satisfy?

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.
 Give ear and come to me;
    listen, that you may live.

Isaiah 55:1-3

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