I confess to having been a bit surprised by the outright panic many people seem to be experiencing in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
It is a crisis: don’t get me wrong. We need to take it seriously and pay attention to advice from health authorities. We need to stay home and wash our hands and forgo even elbow bumps. I get that.
It’s a big problem, and it will be for a while, but it’s not the apocalypse. A man in Israel was so convinced the end was coming that he returned to the Antiquities Authority a ballista he had stolen from an exhibit when he was a teenager, 15 years ago. Ballistas are carefully rounded rocks used as ammunition in ancient warfare. They range from the size of golf balls (for slingshots) to as large as cannonballs for catapults.
Note that he decided to return the ancient ammo. Many Americans, on the other hand, are buying up bullets faster than bread and milk. Reports from news agencies such as Time, CBS, CNN, and others indicate that assault rifles, handguns, and cases of ammunition are flying off the shelves at a record pace. Instead of doing the smart thing and staying home, panicky people are standing in long lines and crowding into gun shops to stock up their arsenal.
What, pray tell, do these people plan to do with all this weaponry? Stand guard over their hoard of toilet paper and freeze dried jerky?
Too many people have watched too many Mad Max movies, methinks, and bought into too many alarmist websites. Pandemics have happened before, and they will happen again. They’re bad. Real bad. But they’re not the apocalypse.
Times like these call for cooperation and mutual support and pulling together to defeat a common foe — but the enemy is the novel coronavirus, not an army of desperados intent on stealing a survivalist’s cache of pork & beans.
Let’s get a grip, but not on our guns. Paranoia may be strong, but it cannot compete with the power of trust in God and love for those who surround us — the kind of power that might even lead someone to share their Charmin with a willing heart.
Professor of Old Testament at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and the Contributing Editor and Curriculum Writer at Good Faith Media.