On Hasty Decisions in Tense Times
This too shall pass.
And if that is so, then perhaps we should do as the authorities request while planning for the better days to come. Americans in September are not going to stop eating, drinking, making merry. Christmas will arrive. Heavenly days, my grandparents celebrated the holidays in the Great Depression and there is no reason to think anything like that is coming.
The next time someone tells you we live in the worst of times, ask them to call up someone from the greatest generation and have a chat. A great mistake made by a generation that massively messes up is to think: nothing can be worse than this. Trading Nicholas II for Stalin is not an upgrade. Losing Louis XVI for Robespierre only to end with Napoleon is not good. Things can, assuredly, be made worse by hasty despair.
Still, Americans are not generally given to extremes and so we will muddle through — and when this comes, hasty decisions, overly florid rhetoric, doomsaying, or even cockeyed optimism will not wear well. We do not know what will be, just that these present trends are the sort that will not last forever.
Do Your Duty, Leave the Rest to God
My wife, Hope, and I have a general rule that we make as few big decisions as possible in stressful or unusual times. Unusual times are … peculiar … and they tempt to us to think “everything is different” or “all will be changed.”
But nobody much can plan out or prep for the Great Depression or the Russian Revolution. They are too great and are, after all, too improbable to warrant a rational man’s planning.
If the highly improbable happens, then the man who was calm, moderate, and measured before the crisis will be no worse off than the prepper and the panicked. Indeed, the sheer stress of trying to control the uncontrollable may do more harm to the individual than any good done by futile planning.
The glory of being a Christian is that we do our duty, the best we can as God enables, and then leave the rest to God. We live for Paradise and pray to be made fit for that better Kingdom. So in times of turmoil, the rational person puts his faith in God, listens to the experts, and does the best he can.
And what is most likely is that the normal will return with some differences. This too shall pass.
Hold tight. Wait.
Let’s Practice Kindness
Meanwhile, a warning from someone who has made many mistakes acting in haste: now is not the time for polemics or judgment. Uncertain times bring out a harshness birthed by fear. Now is not the time to “own” your enemies or belittle opponents. Show solidarity with all neighbors. Let’s cut everyone maximal slack … as much as we can.
When this passes, if the worst happens, we will have been kind. And if the best outcome occurs, we will have been kind. Perhaps being kind when in doubt is the best way for those of us commanded by Jesus to love even our enemies.
John Mark Reynolds is the president of The Saint Constantine School. He is also a philosopher, administrator and joyous curmudgeon. Reynolds is a follower of Jesus and a student of Socrates. His Ph.D. in philosophy is from the University of Rochester and he is author or editor of numerous books.
Originally published at Patheos.com. Reprinted with permission.