I’m an old geezer now and in the vulnerable age group of this virus thingy, so I’m a lot more sensitive to idiots not taking the precautions seriously.
Our main grocery store, for instance, has a huge sign in the entrance telling its customers to use the sanitizer supplied to wash their hands and the handles of their grocery carts before and after use. But most people walk right past the sign. It’s maddening. I wish I had an official security man’s outfit and a large gun with the power to stop them, and a pair of handcuffs to lock their hands behind their back, with a police car waiting outside to take them away.
I can’t really blame these infuriating people, though, because they’ve been fed a constant diet by this world that the right to do what we please is the first rule of life. So even though they know they’re endangering the lives of other people, it doesn’t matter to them. The only thing that matters is their own need and destination.
Maybe their childhood was in a home like that too, so I realize I cannot judge or condemn them for who they’ve become, but these people are now a threat to my life and to the life of my old geezer wife, which in turn ripples down to the lives of my children and grandchildren too. So I cannot excuse or ignore these people’s behaviour. They have become my enemy – and an enemy I haven’t the power to deal with too. I can’t accost them, or risk a shouting match that only increases the chance of spreading and picking up the virus.
I’m grateful to David, therefore, for Psalm 37, which a few verses in says, “Bridle your anger, trash your wrath, cool your pipes – it only makes things worse” (from the Message translation). So David obviously came up against these idiots that made him mad too. And he too had learnt that there’s nothing you can do about them. They roam in their own world, oblivious to the needs of others, and challenging them only makes them angry and abusive.
And even in a life-threatening crisis they do not change. They’re the ones who scour the stores buying up essential goods in bulk and selling them at a massive profit. Caught in the act, or ironically they have someone else steal from them, they fume at the unfairness of it all, that someone dares to make their life miserable, because that’s all they can focus on. But it seems it’s always been this way, because David had to face the fury he felt too at what these people are like.
But out of it came Psalm 37, and where the source of David’s comfort came from, which he passed on down to us. I hear him chuckling in the opening verse when he says, “Don’t bother with braggarts,” or “wish you could succeed like the wicked.”
Don’t wish you could get away with what they get away with, in other words. And why not? Because “In no time,” David continues, “they’ll shrivel like grass clippings and wilt like cut flowers in the sun.” And we’ve got living proof of that in this latest virus crisis, because several of these sociopaths caught hoarding have ended up having to donate what they’ve hoarded to others. Their profits shrivelled like grass clippings.
They think they’re getting away with their shenanigans, but they’re in constant danger of a backlash and losing all their gains. Or as David phrases it in Psalm 37: “Before long the crooks will be bankrupt.”
It’s a comforting reminder from God that he set in motion consequences to our human actions. No hoarder or sneering critic of virus precautions gets away with anything in the long run.
And the other comforting reminder in Psalm 37 is that “God keeps track of the decent folk,” and “In hard times they’ll hold their heads high” – and in a fitting analogy of what’s happening today, “when the shelves are bare, they’ll be full.”
And that gives us reason not to be furious at those who ignore all decency and precautions in this present crisis, because we live in a dimension above it all, that enables us to be “full” and unphased, despite what’s going on.
So as David began the Psalm, “Don’t bother your head with braggarts” not taking this virus seriously. But rather, as David also says in Psalm 37, “Turn your back on evil, work for the good and don’t quit. God loves this kind of thing, never turns away from his friends.” And hopefully that can soften the fury we feel.