To stop the spread of COVID-19, for the greater social good and for the sake of our neighbors, we are being asked to make a few sacrifices.
“I want people to assume we’re overreacting, because if it looks like you’re overreacting, you're probably doing the right thing. We know from China, from South Korea, from Italy that what the virus does is it percolates along and then it takes off, so what we’ve got to do it a couple things and we’re doing it. One is preventing new infections from coming in, hence the travel restrictions, and the other is doing containment and mitigation within the country.” — Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House COVID-19 task force. March 15, 2020.
In a strange turn of events no one could have predicted six months ago, we’re all being asked to give up something this year during the season of Lent, which is celebrated as holy by Catholics in the U.S. and by many other branches of the Christian faith.
One of the traditions of the Catholic season of Lent, that of giving up something you like for something you love, is a practice we can all understand, whatever our faith or opinion on faith.
People give up things they like for things they love in every season of their lives. They are asked to give up some pleasures in the short term for something stronger and more meaningful in the long term.
Children are asked to give up their play time for school time; working people are asked to give up their free time to pursue vocations and contribute meaningfully to society; would-be doctors sacrifice for years to pursue their cherished dream of medicine. Parents make terrific sacrifices for their children every day.
In some ages, the sacrifices that have been asked and required have been far more dire than the mere allocation of our limited human hours or the foregoing of a few creature comforts during Lent. Previous generations of young adults have been asked to sacrifice their lives for their countries. Many sacrifice them still.
We are being asked to sacrifice something now; something we really like (our freedoms) for something we love (our neighbors).
The experts and authorities on the subject of public health are insisting that it is incumbent on every American over the next week to prevent the spread of coronavirus by…staying home and avoiding contact with each other.
“At this point, containment through contact tracing and increased testing is only part of the necessary strategy. We must move to pandemic mitigation through widespread, uncomfortable, and comprehensive social distancing. That means not only shutting down schools, work (as much as possible), group gatherings, and public events, but also making daily choices to stay away from each other as much as possible to Flatten The Curve [number of new cases].” — Dr. Asaf Bitton, MD, MPH. Ariadne Labs. March 13, 2020
We are being asked by people who have been studying this outbreak from the beginning and have determined, from analyzing the data, that key decisions on the part of governments in various countries either contributed to the spread of COVID-19 or prevented it.
“What I can clearly say is that what we do, or don’t do, over the next week will have a massive impact on the local and perhaps the national trajectory of coronavirus. We are only about 11 days behind Italy and generally on track to repeat what is unfortunately happening there and throughout much of the rest of Europe very soon.” — Dr. Asaf Bitton, MD, MPH. Ariadne Labs. March 13, 2020
School, sports, work, special events, concerts, performances, playdates, Disney-world. Apple stores.
Some religious people in American are being asked- and during a very holy time for the Catholic Church- to forego the sacred traditions of their faith, giving up even their access to the Holy Sacraments during the a time in the Catholic calendar as important as Christmas.
Yet the networks of Catholic Church’s in the U.S. were some of the first large-scale organizations to take decisive action to protect the people of each arch-diocese most at risk by cancelling masses and leaving the fonts of Holy Water dry.
Abandoning our usual pursuits- no matter how important- and doing what we can financially and socially to support those in our communities for whom this time is an unbearable burden- is far beyond the scope of our usual everyday lives.
But it is a good object lesson in what is truly important.
Like the Catholics, we must be willing to sacrifice something we like for something we love. We must sacrifice our freedom of movement, our typical pursuits, even our longing for community.
Because we love our country and our neighbors even more.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)