The Divided States of America: COVID19 and Vaccines

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the UNITED States of America,

And to the Republic for which it stands

ONE nation under God, INDIVISIBLE, with liberty and justice for all.

The Pledge of Allegiance (United States of America)

As you all may or may not be aware, this is the United States Pledge of Allegiance. Contained within these words are some very key words depicting what we hope the people of America would be, which is: UNITED, ONE, and INDIVISIBLE.

It certainly has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Being a people who are united, who see themselves as one people, and who cannot be divided. It sounds nice, and it’s certainly a goal worth reaching for…but is this really what we look like today?

It’s hard to say, mostly because if we were to base our conclusion on social media and the mainstream media, it would seem we are more divided than ever before. But, is this an accurate portrayal of us as a people?

And Along Came COVID

Something that has dominated the world stage and the American stage since February or March of 2020 is COVID19.

We all know of someone who has had it, who has survived it, who has died from it, or who has been permanently maimed by it. So we have all been affected by it in some way, shape, or form. Most of the world spent 2020 locked down with people in their homes, and only essential businesses remaining open.

We watched as public school kids and university students went from a classroom to suddenly being homeschool students, and we watched as teachers scrambled to figure out how to do virtual school overnight and exhausting themselves trying to make everyone happy.

We watched the shelves be emptied of hand sanitizer, bleach, and toilet paper (of all things).

We watched our favorite restaurants collapse and shut down, moms and pops shops boarding up their doors and closing, and big box stores and small stores alike implementing mask and social distancing requirements if you were to enter to shop.

We watched the entertainment industry suddenly halted and musicians, artists, actors, and more, trying to find a way to keep their craft alive through virtual means. Live Streaming events, Drive In concerts, and more became the new way to do things.

We watched as churches tried to figure out how to be the church without an in-person Sunday gathering. Many of which discovered just how much emphasis they had placed on the Sunday gathering over all the other aspects of the church and found they couldn’t survive the pandemic and closed their doors.

We watched as people died in hospitals from not just COVID but all sorts of other issues, but due to hospital restricting visitors, they withered away alone in their beds.

At the beginning of this pandemic we saw a lot of good.

Communities came together and helped one another.

People took precautions.

People showed a genuine concern for one another.

Churches got creative on how to reach their communities.

But at some point everything changed and factions began to spring up, largely due to the constant barrage from the mainstream media about the dangers of COVID and the rising number of infections and deaths.

You had the pro-mask and anti-mask factions.

You had the pro-social distancing and anti-social distancing factions.

You had the pro-stay home and anti-stay home factions.

You had the “you care too much” and the “you care too little” factions.

Suddenly everyone became a health expert and sounded off on social media about how negligent the other side of the debate became…or how scared the other side of the debate became.

Sadly, over a year later, these factions remain. The division that came with COVID19 ran extremely deep and we are struggling to rise above it. It has created rifts between family members and friends alike (as if not being able to see those people due to lockdowns wasn’t enough).

Social Media became a battle ground for everyone to argue over whether or not their perspective was the right perspective, and friends and family members became enemies, got blocked, and relationships dissolved.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media continued (and continues) to poke the now awake and extremely angry bear and continue to (almost intentionally) to make matters worse by turning this entire thing into a political football that they are all trying to carry across their political sides end zone. Yes…this includes all media outlets from FOX on down to CNN and MSNBC.

Couple this with governments all over the world implementing near draconian measures all in the name of keeping people safe. Including, but certainly not limited to, Pastors in Canada getting arrested for refusing to adhere to COVID19 standards for gathering.

Then CAME The Vaccines

Of course, throughout the entire year of 2020 there were cries from the masses for a vaccine.

Then President Donald Trump instituted a plan to fast track vaccines, and the liberal wing of our political atmosphere suddenly went from pro-vaccine to anti-vaccine stating that they wouldn’t take the vaccine if it was something of Trump’s doing. Now that President Joe Biden is in office and the liberal wing has control of the White House (and much of congress) they are now pushing the vaccine as though the world will end tomorrow if everyone does not get a vaccine today.

Naturally, social media is ablaze these days with everyone trumpeting their pro or anti-vaccine stances.

Our attentions have turned from making enemies out of one another over how we handled COVID19 to making enemies out of one another over whether or not we choose to get the vaccine.

I’ve heard countless stories from friends who recounted how they have family or friends who have ended a relationship with them over the fact that they will or will not get the vaccine. People they’ve known their entire lives.

I’m watching people take to Social Media to effectively guilt or shame people into getting the vaccine, or to guilt and shame people because they got the vaccine and accusing them of living in fear.

Putting the Pieces Back Together

We are a fractured people at the moment.

Over the years we have been fractured by politics, religion, race, and countless other things. Shoot we are even fractured over the stupid 2021 Olympics at the moment and how various athletes and coaches are handling things. The one global event that is supposed to bring some semblance of unity has revealed just how deep our fractures have become.

Jesus said in Mark 3:25 that, “if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”

America is definitely a house divided. And sadly, much of the American church is a house divided as well. This much cannot be disputed. The question before us then is will we find ourselves falling apart in the near future? And the truth be told, I think we will if we can’t figure out how to get along as a country….as a people.

How, then, can we move forward?

How, then, can we put the pieces back together again?

First, we have to come to the realization that people aren’t all going to agree about something. Not about COVID, not about vaccines, not about theology, not about race….nothing. And we have somehow come to a place where we are okay with that.

Currently, the prevailing response to those we disagree with is to:

  1. Shut them down
  2. Cancel them
  3. Shout them down
  4. End our relationship with them

With this being the most common way we respond to disagreement, is it any wonder that we have become to fractured and divided?

Instead of responding this way perhaps we can do this instead:

  1. Listen to one another
  2. Put ourselves in the other persons shoes
  3. Be transparent with one another
  4. If we cannot find common ground on the specific issue then must be able to agree to respectively disagree

Second, we have to be able to find some common ground. And if we can’t find common ground then perhaps we can find areas in which we can compromise.

Compromise doesn’t equal conceding your convictions. It just means that you find a way forward where both sides can be mostly satisfied. You won’t be completely satisfied, but if we can find a compromise that allows individuals to keep their convictions without demanding others adhere to that conviction, then we can find some level of satisfaction.

Third, we have to stop making those we disagree with out to be enemies. Just because we do not agree doesn’t mean we are enemies. If we continue to draw lines in the sand over our personal convictions about something, we will continue to find enemies everywhere we look. And at some point we will find ourselves standing alone with no one in our corner.

Certainly, there are times where the actions or beliefs of others are personally destructive. But we can disagree with them over that without making them into our enemies.

And certainly, there are times where actions or beliefs are not only personally destructive, but become dangerous for others. And in those moments we need to show wisdom and discernment with how to address that situation.

But generally speaking, we have created enemies out of one another over stupid things. Things that, in the end, won’t amount to much of anything and we will have spent our lives fighting battles with one another on hills not worth dying on.

Fourth and final, and possibly the most important, is that the Church needs to do a better job of demonstrating this to the world in which we live. Currently, the church is just as divided as the world is on these matters and we really aren’t doing a great job of handling it with one another. The church is allowing a non-doctrine related issue to come between us and frankly, this is not helpful and has become quite destructive.

I believe the Church can start here:

Romans 12:10, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

1 Peter 4:9, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Romans 12:16, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.”

Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”

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