I miss my Sunday School kids. Pre-pandemic some of my most fun conversations happened with second graders on Sunday mornings. It’s really such a great age. They are so smart and enthusiastic. Yesterday I saw one of my favorites from a couple years ago at Costco. She was with her mother and siblings, and they were purchasing a beautiful artificial Christmas tree. However, the tree’s 1800 lights were not enough to sell this little girl on the idea. She thought they should stick with a real tree.
I tried to help by saying, “But look at all those lights!” Her face, or rather her eyes (we were all wearing masks), were expressionless. She was not budging. She wanted a real tree.
And I get it, don’t you? Sometimes we are just NOT in the mood for lies. In fact, I feel like I’ve hit a wall this week, not with artificial decorations but with artificial narratives. My spirit feels like the steely gaze of that determined little girl. I’m done. I’m just not having it.
Fortunately, a friend recommended the Rod Dreher book, Live Not By Lies. The title is taken from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn who said he would not participate in the lies of the Soviets: “Though lies conceal everything, though lies embrace everything, but not with any help from me.” That’s where I’m at. I’m not living by lies. Lies aren’t getting any help from me.
But clearly we are living in the midst of a pandemic of lies and platitudes. Perhaps the one that irks me the most is “We are all in this together.” What does that mean? Because I assure you the coronavirus isn’t getting the message. It doesn’t treat people like they are “all in it together.” Exactly the opposite actually. Many are asymptomatic, many others have mild cases, but for some the virus is a horrific and potentially deadly disease. Thankfully, after eight months we know a lot about who’s who. Why would anyone familiar with how the virus works make the absurd claim that we are all in this together? We’re so not. The under forty demographic (without co-morbidities) should be proceeding with life. The old and vulnerable people should be told to either stay home or know that the mask is of negligible protective value. Furthermore, millions upon millions of Americans have recovered from the virus. Doctors now think the immunity lasts for years, maybe decades. These people should be wearing masks and social distancing? How do you figure?
Think of the other ways we are not in this together. My husband works in healthcare. Working from home is not an option, and if the numbers get bad enough, and they might, he’s ready to jump back into doing bedside medicine in the ICU. Nurses are wearing horrifically itchy N95s and other uncomfortable PPE twelve-plus hours a day. Other people are literally home all the time. It’s more than a little tone-deaf for the Netflix binger to say, “We’re all in this together.”
And the disparate impact of economic policies might be worst of all. Unless someone is willing to live off the grid and rely on no one else for anything, I find it completely immoral to lockdown. Yet many are all for locking down on the backs of the poor, while maintaining “We’re all in this together.” Well, that’s a lie I’m not living by.
Of course “we are all in this together” is just one lie. I’m sure you probably have different ones that spring to mind. Do you think it is important to refute the lies? Or do you think it is okay to just let the lies be? Truly, I think we need to be discerning. I don’t want to be a constantly disagreeable person. On the other hand, I am increasingly convicted that we should not “live by lies.” I pray that God will guide me. That I’ll know when to be as quiet and peaceable as a dove, and when to be as shrewd as a serpent.
Speaking of serpents, the crafty one in the Garden of Eden asked Eve, “Did God really say?” The older I get, the more I see the influence of that question all around us. Being diligent about seeking truth means constantly coming back to God’s Word, constantly acknowledging that the Prince of this world is the father of lies.
My sweet little friend may learn to love her new Christmas tree. I hope she does. But some fictions should never be embraced. May we never stop asking God for eyes to see the difference.
Ponder these words of Jesus, and may none of us live by lies: “Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:43-44