Wednesday, April 22, 2020

God cuts us down like wheat

The Pandemic is about nothing if it isn't about death. Some are taken, most are not, but before it happens no one knows who or when. It's all guesses.

Except to God.

This is not a religious post.

I mostly don't believe in god, and where I do I am largely in disagreement. So if you came here to make your peace, try later.

God has a plan. And for God all the Coronavirus deaths have an order to them. For us, they are random- one here, one there,  Wuhan, a swath in Italy, a gouge of New York. But to God we are all lined up in a field in the order of our deaths. The combine works its steady pace, cutting us down with its tireless efficiency. We may hear its engine roar, but we only know our place in the field when the truck and blades are bearing right down on us.

Sometimes we don't even know then.

But God knows.

As it currently stands I don't know a single person who has died from the Coronavirus. I do know of one famous person who meant something to me though: John Prine.

I liked John Prine. 

Did John Prine have it coming? Did John Prine loudly announce to his followers that this virus was nothing but a flu and was nothing to worry about? Did he mock the health community's warnings? Did he insist on holding concerts after the dangers were clear. Did he protest sensible restrictions to gatherings by gathering to protest sensible restrictions? Did he advocate for commerce over humanity? Did he spread lies freely about the virus to suit his politics? Did he flagrantly ignore the urgings of social distancing?

Not that I know of. I don't think so.

Which begs the question: Do the people who did all or some of those things I mentioned deserve to die?

Sure, why not.

If God is going to cut us down like wheat perhaps a more sensible plan is in order.

I am no murderer. It is not to me, in my mere humanity, to strike another down except in the most direct self-defense. There is a great passage in The Lord of the Rings where the wretched creature Gollum is being discussed, and the danger he presents in his roaming free in the world.

Frodo says:

"It's a pity Bilbo didn't kill Gollum when he had the chance."

Gandalf: "Pity? It's a pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends.

But many die and many live. And if God should have taken Boris Johnson, or Donald Trump, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, or Bolsonaro of Brazil, Xi Jingpin, the protesters out in front of my Governor's Mansion this past weekend, or even the whole swath of commissioners of my County, I say let God at them. For death I choose each of them over John Prine. I choose them over the Chilean author Luis Sepulveda, the Aids scientist Gita Ramjee, I choose them over Li Wenliang, the Chinese whistleblower doctor who issued early warnings about the coronavirus, and indeed I choose them over pretty much any Doctor or Nurse or low paid hospital worker, or over every suffering nursing home resident who died from this virus.

As a somewhat deranged library patron at my library is locally famous for complaining:

"People die every day!"

Yes, we do not know the end of all plans of all actions. Yes, I would prefer a gentler solution to the Universe than death. Yes, I love wildness and freedom and magic and free will. It brought me here. But people die every day. I cannot change that. God has not answered our prayers. 

And so it is.

But while it is not mine to choose who lives or dies, it is also not mine to give up on the hope for justice and for the fair reckoning of souls.

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