An appeal to consider how we treat folks who do not look at the virus like we do

For months now we have been fighting against a virus that has possibly caused more problems at a societal level than it has in the medical and health arenas.

One of the primary areas of contention has got to be whether we should wear masks. I have seen data and talked to people on both sides of this issue. And to be clear, “both sides” means this: either we should all wear masks everywhere or nobody should wear masks at all.

From what I have heard, read, and learned, I believe the masks are not going to stop the virus completely, but they do at least help slow down its spread enough to keep our healthcare system from being overwhelmed.

But that’s not really what I am writing about today.

I am writing about the way we treat people on “the other side” of the issue. Not just about the masks, but about other issues surrounding the virus and our responses to it. I have seen the online lectures from friends telling us that we will all die if we do not lock down like hermits. And I have seen the rants by those who insist the virus is no worse than the flu.

And in my opinion they are both wrong.

I can find you links to articles written by well-respected experts in related fields. Some of these articles will support whatever postion you hold. Others will shoot down that same position. No number of articles I share will change anyone’s mind who has planted a flag and claimed ground with a steadfast face.

But again – that is not why I am writing today.

I am writing today because we are treating each other horribly.

I have friends and family on both sides of the issue. Some have legitimate health issues and their fear – of catching something that has proven a serious threat to those with pre-existing conditions – is valid. They are not people who typically live scared, either. They are acutely aware of the danger to their lives and respond accordingly.

Others see power-hungry wolves ready to abuse this situation to gain control over the lives of others. Their fear (and it is precisely fear) of overreaching government is valid.

I am not writing to take sides. My previous posts should leave readers with a clear picture of where I stand: with liberty and good sense.

It does not sway me if you think we should lock down or we should blow all this off like fake news.

But it concerns me to see those who are dubious about the effects and potential damage of this virus refer to others as scared, as “sheeple”, as pawns. I want to be very transparent with some of you right here: I thought better of you than that.

It is also bothersome to see some who are more safety-conscious right now call others “murderers” because they choose not to wear a mask. And in the same spirit of transparency, I say to you: I thought better of you, too.

Those two positions I mentioned are extremes, perhaps. But everywhere in between I have seen the rudeness, the intolerance for disagreement, the mocking, belittling posts that betray a complete lack of grace for others.

What makes it worse is that many of these people call themselves Christians, believers in the God of grace.
Shame on us.
If we cannot have grace for those who disagree, if mercy and grace seem like sin, then we have forgotten our God.

Others still do not recognize or believe in God at all. Still, they will complain when someone mocks them and turn around and do the same, never stopping to consider that their own ill treatment of others does their position no favors.

No matter where you stand in all this, why don’t we quit focusing on the divide? I would like to point out something that both sides have in common: you are scared of what might happen.

What might happen if this virus gets even worse…

What might happen if we just cower to abusive powers…

Fears. Legitimate fears. Maybe not in your eyes, but they are legitimate to the scared.

I ask you this: give empathy a try. Consider why “the other people” feel the way they do and try to feel their fear. Don’t worry – you don’t have to let it control you. I promise that you will not suddently become a murderer or a sheeple for being compassionate and considerate.

And then, respond to others with kindness (or at least ignore them – there is a power in that which this generation has forgotten).
I know – kindness is anathema in this age, because some perceive it as weakness. I disagree. In your kindness is the power to bridge gaps, to open doors, to make peace and find a way through this together.

Because we will come through this one way or the other. Divided or together.

I choose together, in spite of differences of opinion. If some do not want to do so, that is their liberty.

Yes, I choose together. I hope you will, too.

-Brian Collins