Rick Kirchoff, CcNet
A few days ago, one of our CcNet Facebook friends sent us a message. She wrote:
“I am writing this out of curiosity, and hope I don’t come across too controversial. I ‘liked’ your Facebook page a while back because of a friend who was sharing your posts. I enjoy the majority of your posts, but my question is, what is your heart and motive behind the Covid-19 death toll posts? I believe the virus is real, but…the virus posts, for me at least, do the opposite of the first part of your 3-part mission. ‘To Challenge, Equip and Inspire.’ I am not trying to start an argument. I just would like to hear the heart behind the posts. Thank you for your time! Your Facebook Friend, Janet.” (We have changed the name to protect her anonymity.)
What follows is based on our response. We thought you might find it informative.
Janet, thanks for asking! And thank you for referencing our mission statement. Several things come to mind with those 3 words: CHALLENGE, EQUIP AND INSPIRE.
1st, to CHALLENGE. As of this writing, the COVID-19 death toll in the USA is nearing 204,000 (Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center). Let that sink in! 204,000 persons have breathed their last and lost their lives to this disease. Worldwide deaths from this virus are approaching one million.
These are not just statistics. Each one was someone’s beloved child, sibling, parent, grandparent or friend. The dead include children, teenagers, doctors, nurses, emergency personnel, teachers, athletes and, of course, many frail elderly and those whose health was already compromised. Each one a person of sacred worth! Each one has a name and a story. Their lives were cut short by this deadly disease. We never want to forget that.
In a time when COVID numbers are politicized and even debated, we must not forget that this disease is real and deadly.
We share the numbers because we are not willing to let ourselves be numbed to the immensity of the number of the deaths. We want to join with those that knew and loved them, from faith communities across this nation and across the world, in a time of mourning, a time of lament. We mourn for these individuals and for their loved ones. And our hearts are broken by the scale of grief and loss that has disproportionately harmed people of color, the elderly and medically vulnerable.
So, Janet, the CHALLENGE is to remember that the pandemic is real, that it is deadly, and we have lost and continue to lose so many precious souls to this disease.
2nd, to EQUIP. It is easy to grow weary with the social distancing protocols. And over time, we all can all grow careless! Sharing the death numbers is meant to help us remember the importance of continuing the hard work of staying vigilant and helping stop the spread. Social distancing protocols work! Wearing a mask matters! They matter because your life is precious, and the lives of others are as well. It’s about loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.
That’s the EQUIP part of why we post the numbers. And , by the way, we continually offer posts that are specifically chosen to help individuals make wise choices and to equip congregational leaders to exercise safe actions whenever people gather.
3rd, to INSPIRE. It may seem a stretch to you to think that seeing a death count can “inspire,” but we/I see something of inspiration in our choice to post these numbers.
Janet, I am a 75-year-old retired clergyman. The numbers remind me of my vulnerability and mortality, our shared mortality. When I see the growing numbers and realize how quickly I, or somone I know and love, could be in that number, I am reminded to never take any day for granted. If seeing these numbers can inspire us to live more deeply and fully, realizing that we are all at risk, then the death numbers “inspire.”
Janet, I hope these quick thoughts are helpful.
I know that death toll numbers can be depressing and even off-putting, but we’ve decided it is worth the risk. So, several times each week, we will keep you updated on the numbers. And when you see them, I hope you will think of “the challenge, the equipping and the inspiration.“