I have been intrigued to notice the reactions of people as this virus continues to impact our communities, both here and overseas. In Victoria, Australia we have been inflicted with harsher restrictions than any other state in our country as we grapple with a second wave of infections. Where I live, in regional Victoria we are only slightly better off than our Melbourne counterparts with what we can and can’t do.
It is especially frustrating, however, when our region, which is quite large geographically, and has had a total of 6 cases since this began, is forced to abide by limitations geared towards other areas with much much higher occurrences. I have found myself feeling quite annoyed that I am not able to go and have a coffee in one of our amazing local cafes or catch up face to face with my worshipping community.
When the first dose of restrictions were announced back in March it was interesting to see the responses by various people. There were stories of individuals and large groups of people who were flouting the rules, seemingly believing that the current set of circumstances didn’t actually apply to them.
I watched news reports of other countries who were quite compliant with limits being placed on them for their well being and they were considerably more restrictive than what we were facing. And then there were other instances of protests and riots in places that believe their rights are not able to be limited in any way. The corresponding numbers of active infections in both of these instances reflects the advantages of abiding by limits, however inconvenient they might be at the time.
I have considered why people would believe their rights for freedom of movement and behaviour would be a higher priority than keeping themselves and their communities safe. Lets put aside for a moment any conspiracy theories that might be driving some people’s reticence to be compliant. I have been wondering if what is at the heart of these responses is that for the majority of people alive on this planet, we are not used to being told ‘no’.
Lockdowns are basically a giant ‘no’ to all of us. We are not able to do what we normally do, to go where we normally go and this is such a foreign concept for us. There are even some activities, I am sure, that we would not normally do, but the minute the country leader informs us we are not able to participate in that, it becomes the very thing that we just have to do, and resentment begins to build.
I am reminded of some discussions in the bible about the fact that God gave us 10 Commandments, a list of ‘no’s’ if you will, but almost as soon as we heard we weren’t allowed to do something it was the very thing we desperately desired to do. (Romans 7:7-9).
As any parent will tell you, a toddler tantrum begins with them being told ‘no’. The lip pouts, the foot stomps, the tears come, all because limits have been placed. More often than not these boundaries are being articulated for the safety or well being of the child. This fact in no way makes it more palatable with the child in that moment, who can only focus on the fact that they are being denied.
How familiar does this sound? It seems to me that there are plenty of us in our world right now that are stamping our foot and dropping our bottom lip at the ‘no’ we are hearing regarding the limits being placed on our ‘freedoms’. The thing we need to keep at the forefront of our minds in all this is that these restrictions are for the very best for us, just as the rules that God places before us do also.