So what does a run on guns and ammunition have in common with a run on toilet paper? The answer is that four-letter word, FEAR! Across America and in other countries as well, people are stocking-up with everything they deem necessary for survival, in this case, items for self-defense and personal hygiene. I should add there is also a run on such items as hand sanitizer and coconut water, but it is on the guns and TP that I wish to focus.
Those who are purchasing weapons are evidently looking ahead to worst case scenarios -- to a world in which there is a shortage of basics, no money to purchase anything and hordes of unemployed or underemployed desperate people. In this worst case scenario, crime will run rampant and the lore of the Wild West will prevail; it will be every man for himself, and every woman, too. In one news clip covering the rush to buy ammo, those interviewed expressed their fears of home invasions or of being mugged on the streets, or of being robbed in their place of business. Having guns on the ready gave them a sense of being in control: in their minds, guns would allow them to return violence for violence, thereby protecting themselves and their families.
As for the run on TP, the possibility of there being insufficient to go around has caused such panic that some citizens have dialed 911 to report their emergency. In Oregon, for example, the police have informed the public that they will not make TP deliveries; instead, people should resort to the old ways of doing things such as using dried corn cobbs, newspaper, or, like the ancient Romans, sponges on sticks or even sea shells!
It may be that the run on TP comes from its association with being "clean" and from the belief that one can ward off deadly germs by practicing basic hygiene. Or perhaps many believe that practicing one's usual bathroom rituals will create a semblance of normalcy. Or it is possible that people are afraid of becoming socially unacceptable
if they are not fully deodorized, sanitized and sweet-smelling. All these are reasonable beliefs, but hoarding and grocery store brawls are not rational behaviors.
We all want to be safe and, it is probably true to say that we all want to be clean. However, when FEAR is the driving force that takes over our lives, bringing out the worst in us, then we need to re-assess our values. FEAR is the antithesis of LOVE; it is also detrimental to the spiritual life. We cannot attend to the needs of others if we are fear-driven; we cannot even pay attention to God
if we are preoccupied with catastrophes real and imagined. The reptilian brain drives us into a "fear and flight" response, the same response that the very first humans depended upon to survive. The human race, however, has evolved, as has the brain. If we choose, we can respond to this pandemic wisely, mindfully and compassionately; if we choose, we can retain our humanity. and even transcend our limiting beliefs
Be well/ Stay well!
They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”
The dialogue between the man born blind and his interrogators pits someone who can see clearly against those who are spiritually blind. The man states the obvious -- he was once blind but now can see; his interrogators cannot accept the reality that is in plain sight but instead defame Jesus and accuse the man of lying. He speaks truth; they stop up their ears and don't want to hear what he has to say. Rather than focus on the miracle before them, they prefer to think of Jesus as a sinner who has broken the Sabbath. However, there is no logic to this: if Jesus has broken the Sabbath by healing the man born blind, than a miracle has indeed taken place. Rather than acknowledge this, the interrogators question the man's parents to see if he had really been born blind; they then persist in calling Jesus a sinner and in verbally abusing the man standing before them.
The two images to the left of this reflection are photos of my magical, mystery umbrella. The top image shows the umbrella in black and white -- its color when the world is dry. The multi-colored version of the same umbrella shows what it looks like when it rains -- brilliant pastels replace the black and white. Walking in the rain today, determined to get outdoors before the predicted thunderstorm, I was aware of my umbrella changing color in the downpour. The insight I received was that our world is full of color -- of mystery, of God's Presence-- but we only see in monochrome. My umbrella doesn't cease to contain color when it is dry; it is just that I cannot see the color -- my eyes lack the vision to penetrate beyond black and white. Like the man who was born blind, I see mystery when my umbrella changes color; like his interrogators, I am blind to its colorful potential.
In these days of being confined and leading alternative lives, let us look for the color which is all around us -- the color of God's grace which is visible even on the darkest days for those with eyes to see!
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
- What events and circumstances are clouding your vision right now?
- What gives you reason to hope?
- Where are you seeing God's action in our world today?