By Col. Kleet A. Barclay
Command Chaplain, EUCOM
Around the world, there has grown a sense of pandemic panic as people race to acquire supplies or anxiously scour news and social media seeking truth, understanding, and ways to deal with the impacts of COVID-19.
Unfortunately, pandemonium follows, and many U.S. cities have seen protests move from peaceful demonstration to mayhem. Looting, destroying properties, and even attacking each other and law enforcement. Livelihoods have been destroyed, and numerous lives senselessly lost.
There is a Chinese proverb that says: “If there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character: if there is beauty in the character, there is love in the home; if there is love in the home, there is harmony in the nation; if there is harmony in the nation, there is peace in the world.”
This proverb stands in stark contrast to what we have recently witnessed. Its wisdom challenges us to look within ourselves: are we part of the problem or the solution? Are we self-centered or other-centered? Are we looking out for the well-being of our neighbors?
Pan, an ancient Greek god, was known for his selfishness. Pan was considered the god of the wild, shepherds, flocks, nature, music, and raucous parties. Pan was half human and half goat with goat horns on his head and was always seeking to fulfill his own needs and pleasure. If Pan was disturbed during his nap, his angry shouts inspired “panic” among those around him. This is where the word panic is derived from. Pan produced hysterical or irrational behaviors that often spread through a group.
We have the choice to succumb to a state of pandemic panic and protest pandemonium or to choose to seek righteousness. Even though it is easy to give into selfishness and fear, we must see that it is critical to our well-being and those around us to seek righteousness.
In these troubling times, let’s renew our focus and efforts to do what is right. As we choose and we do what is right, we can face challenges with confidence.
As the Old Testament reminds us: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NIV).