How did we get to the point where we are so weak and silly that we’ll wear a mask as we walk in our own neighborhoods, alone, at the crack of dawn? When did it become okay for our fears to rule our lives? Even worse, why are our fears allowed to dictate the lives of those around? The movement towards safety as the ultimate virtue in life has been building for a long time in our society. Safety and a long life have been the religion of Western culture for some time, and well before the current crisis we had laws mandating measures we all must take to maintain, not just the safety of others, but our own safety as well. We must avoid risk and danger at all costs, even if that requires sitting on the couch eating Doritos all day, every day. We have been robbed of social interaction and stripped of our individual purpose, the most basic foundations of human culture. We have created a “community” that doesn’t commune with one another, and where “Stay Home” has become the great cry of our age.
We wrap our kids in bubble wrap to protect them from danger. We make them wear helmets as they ride tricycles in the driveway, just in case. We don’t let them eat dirt or roll around in the grass because of germs. Then we wonder why they can’t function in the world once they leave our homes and protection, and we conclude that the problem is the world. We look to our government to keep us safe, the same way we keep our children safe, and when they demand concessions to do so, we happily hand back the freedoms we were once so proud of. In shorty, we worship safety, placing it above all else, and claim that the only holy way to live is by maximizing it.
I’m sick of being safe. We should struggle against the world’s encouragement to do nothing and avoid danger at all costs. Danger is a part of joyous living, and introducing danger into our lives builds in us other virtues such as resilience and fortitude, which should be championed. Safety is a part of life too. It is the reasonable calculations you make to temper your choices as you engage in dangerous things. As individuals, we should each be able to calculate what risks we will accept into our own lives. Rather than focusing on how long we live, we should live fully, enjoying and giving thanks for the gifts that God has given us: food and drink, fellowship, vocation.
We cannot bow down to the god of safety.
To hear Rev. Joel Hess, Rev. Paul Koch, and Rev. Ross Engel discuss more about safety as our god, as well as communion during the pandemic, Jesus’ third appearance to his disciples (John 21), and the appropriate balance between working out and drinking during the lockdown (spoiler alert, no one says we should drink less), listen to the full Ringside with the Preacher Men episode, “Is Safety Our God? and Other Topics.”
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