Question of the day – Do you sleep on the scaredy side of the bed? What is the scaredy side you ask? It’s the side that is closest to the bedroom door of course. The side that would be attacked first by an intruder.
Melanie and I learned about the scaredy side from our longest running couple friends. Donna told us that she informed Tom on their wedding night that he would always be sleeping on the scaredy side of the bed. Smart man that he is, Tom complied and has kept Donna safe for over 43 years now.
The concept struck me as incredibly funny until Melanie exclaimed, “Hey, why have I always slept on the scaredy side?!” Ruh-roh … trouble! I tried to defend myself, but after mentally walking through all 12 of the homes we have lived in, she was absolutely right … ugh! Thank you for protecting me all these 40 years, Sweetheart:-)
So that night we switched sides. Neither of us slept well. The lack of sleep resulted in me being in a bad mood the next day. Smiling, Melanie asked if I had gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. Ha, very funny, honey. We changed back but I promised to sleep on the scaredy side on all vacations from now on.
My bad mood was actually induced by seeing all the heads down, no eye contact, no talking, physically distanced, and faceless people during my errand running that day. It’s depressing because it reminds me of two things I wish weren’t true about human behavior: 1) how easily we are manipulated through the fear of death, and 2) how resistant we are to making positive changes for any other reason.
The president at one of the companies I worked for had a favorite saying; “Show them death and they will accept all other options.” I hated the deception, but it worked every single time. It is certainly working to get us to willingly and rapidly accept any and all measures we are told will help us to avoid dying from a virus.
But yet, we refuse to abide by the simple rules God gave us that would enable us to eradicate all the other problems in the world: poverty, hunger, crime, depression, abuse, addiction, disease, abortion, and the list goes on and on. They are all caused by us, by our collective sin. We have the power to solve them all by following God’s laws. We’ve known what to do for some 6,000 years but continue to sin at a seemingly escalating pace. But, in just a few months’ time we turn our lives upside down for a virus?
I kind of wish God would use the tactics that are being used to scare us into obeying the new man-made virus rules. They obviously work. God could easily manipulate us into doing His will. But He doesn’t want to. He loves us and wants us to choose to love Him. We should demonstrate our love by willingly doing what He wants, by exercising our freewill, not by being tricked into compliance.
But just for fun, let’s look step-by-step at what we mere mortals have done to drive behavior change so rapidly to combat a virus. Then let’s consider what we could do differently to drive the more important changes within all of us to make this world a much better place.
Step 1 – Make an Incredibly Scary Prediction
It was initially reported that 2.2 million people in the U.S. would die from the virus. They could have also said that therefore 328 million of us will survive, but that wouldn’t be as scary.
So from a God perspective, how about we talk about how many of us will be going to hell? The last poll I saw stated that 75% of Americans think they are going to heaven. Only 5% thought they would not make it. Interestingly only 58% believe there is a hell. There is a lot of optimism and very little fear out there. We definitely need to create more fear to succeed in our behavior modification efforts away from sin and toward virtue.
Matthew 7:13-14 tells us that we should Enter through the narrow gate;for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.
I wonder how many a few is, how many will make it to heaven? The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim the number is 144,000, very poor odds considering an estimated 90 billion people have lived to date. Although we want a scary number, we need to make it believable. How about using the odds of winning the lottery, 1 in 300 million? Nope, that would mean that only one of us living in America today is going to heaven … I call dibs … oops, that’s selfish and would likely seal my fate … never-mind.
Let’s say that 1% will go to heaven, the remaining 99% are going to hell. That gives us a little hope and is at the same time very scary. 1% of the U.S. population is about 3.3 million people headed to heaven. Congratulations to you narrow road folks! That leaves 326.7 million people going to hell for an eternity … definitely scary. By the way, it’s good to use a decimal point to give the illusion of accuracy.
Step 2 – Stoke the Fear Continuously
Talk about how bad it is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Report only the negatives, no good news allowed. Put the death count on all the screens you can, and update it frequently. If the numbers aren’t going up fast enough, change the rules. Give guidance and financial incentives to make sure the death numbers rise as fast as possible.
Do not mention that the overall death rate is only .26%, a little higher than the traditional seasonal flu. Do not point out that means the survival rate is 99.74%. Do not mention that only 6% of the deaths being reported are solely related to the virus, 94% are related to previously held serious health conditions. Do not mention that most people who get the virus have no, or only mild symptoms. Do not reveal that the virus is only deadly if you are over 70 years old and/or are already very unhealthy. Make sure everyone is afraid, not just those truly at risk. Definitely scare parents so they can pass their fear on to their kids who are at virtually zero risk.
So how about we report on the assumed number of people going to hell every day. On average about 8,000 people die in this country every day. 99% equals 7,920 headed to hell on a daily basis, 5.5 per minute. Show the cumulative numbers on the news ticker scrolling across every television station and internet site, they will pile up fast.
But people will probably get used to seeing the hell numbers and become complacent. Therefore, we should also remind them of all the terrible things happening because of our sinful ways. We should also report on the numbers of people dying from hunger, disease, murder, suicide, and abortion. And let’s not forget those suffering from poverty, crime, abuse, and addictions as well. Yes, those numbers will be huge.
Step 3 – Tell Them What to Do
Once you have a sufficient number of people scared and panicked, tell them what to do to make it better. Give them a little hope. Provide the rules. Go a little overboard to see what they will put up with, then scale it back if you have to. And change the rules often to keep them off balance. Also, provide timelines to give some hope that it will be over soon. If they think it is temporary they will comply faster. Then keep extending the timeframe a little at a time so they won’t notice how long it has been going on. When did the 14 days to flatten the curve start?
This step should be easy from a God perspective. All we have to do to avoid hell and get to heaven is to believe and follow the well-established and already known rules. The ten commandments, the golden rule, the heavenly virtues. We already know what to do, we just need to do it. The timeline is as soon as possible, definitely before you die. Remind them of Matthew 25:13 Therefore, stay awake,for you know neither the day nor the hour.
Step 4 – Make it Visual and Widespread
It’s one thing to hear about what is going on to spread fear, it is much more powerful if there are constant visual reminders everywhere you turn. Close everything down so there is no traffic, no cars in parking lots, empty stadiums with no live sports or entertainment, no kids on the playgrounds. Close the churches where people might be reminded that God tells them to put their trust in Him and to not fear. Put up signs everywhere as constant reminders and warnings of how scared everyone should be.
As a secret weapon, bring out the masks. First say don’t wear them. Then say to wear if you can’t physically distance yourself from another. Then always if indoors, except when you are sitting down eating. Make it so confusing that they choose to wear one all the time just in case. Mandate them to instill the fear and embarrassment of being called out, fined, or fired. Bury all actual scientific studies that conclude that masks make no difference to the wearer or those around them. Oops, here’s one on the CDC website.
So what can we do to visually scare people off the broad road to destruction? In Revelation 13:16-18 people are forced to have a stamped image of the beast’s name, or the number that stood for its name (666) on their right hands or their foreheads. This is obviously impractical for us since only God knows who gets the tattoos.
How about instead we remind people what hell will be like with visual representations playing on all media sources, flooding the zone as it’s called. Hell is described in the bible with words and phrases like; tormented with fire and brimstone, having no rest day and night, eternal punishment, eternal fire, the furnace of fire, lake of fire, unquenchable fire, weeping, and gnashing of teeth. Sounds rough, for an eternity, with no way out, ever!
It would also be nice if our church leaders talked about hell a little more often. I can’t remember the last time I heard a good fire and brimstone sermon. They seem hesitant to use scare tactics for some reason nowadays. To me they seem more concerned with keeping us happy and feeling good about ourselves than they do with saving us. In fact, currently they seem more interested in pleasing those outside of the church than they do with saving those on the inside.
Step 5 – Change the Focus
Once it becomes obvious that the virus isn’t as deadly as it was originally projected, change the focus away from the number of deaths to the number of cases. Do widespread testing to drive the numbers up. Count as many cases as you can. Change the definitions of cases if the numbers aren’t sufficiently high.
Don’t mention all the problems with the tests; false positives, positive one day and negative the next, both positive and negative on the same day, people who weren’t even tested getting notified they are positive in the mail. Admitting these things would ruin the credibility of the testing. And under no circumstances should you talk about the actual severity of cases. There is a big difference between infection and illness, but they don’t need to know that. Don’t mention that 50% won’t even know they had it, and another 30-40% will have only mild symptoms. And again, never mention the survival rate is 99.74%.
If only there were a sin test. Can you imagine how fast our behaviors would change if we were constantly being monitored? Even better, what if our thoughts could be heard. It would be chaos in the beginning, but things would change for the better very rapidly. Just imagine what would happen if the truth reigned supreme?
Step 6 – Get People to Turn on Each Other
Now that you have worked people up into a panic frenzy, get them to demonize all those who don’t follow the rules. Shame them in any way possible. Social media is best since you can reach so many people so fast. Or embarrass them in public. If you can get into a war of words or a scuffle, even better. Just like in sports, the person retaliating is usually the only one who gets caught, so the perpetrator can walk away feeling good about themselves.
Are we allowed to sin shame people? The phrases, who am I to judge, and let he who is without sin cast the first stone come to mind. Yet, shouldn’t we be allowed to point out each other’s failures in nice ways. Actually, wouldn’t that be the kind thing to do? I recall that two of the spiritual works of mercy are to instruct the ignorant and correct sinners, so it must be okay. We can’t improve if we don’t recognize and acknowledge our own faults, right. Of course we should focus on fixing ourselves first.
Step 7 – Keep the Pressure On
Keep the fear going until your objective is met. At the same time, provide a little hope to let them see the light at the end of the tunnel. What is the virus end game? A vaccine? The FDA has a stated goal for a vaccine that it be at least 50% effective. What … a flip of a coin? This is what we have been waiting for? Our God given immune system is 99.74% effective, how about we just call it good and get back to business as usual?
Did you know that the flu vaccine is only between 40-60% effective each year? Scientists have been working on the flu shot since the 1940’s, 80 years. Yet we still have between 40-60 thousand flu deaths every year in the U.S. So we think an effective vaccine for this new virus will be developed in less than a year. Are we really that naïve?
I wish I knew what the objective of keeping the unwarranted virus fear going is. Thankfully God has made His end game perfectly clear. At some point He will be separating the sheep (the saved) from the goats (the damned). He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. Matthew 25:33 and 46.
So here is my hope. I want to be a sheep and I want you to be one too. Sheep get up on the right side of the bed. Goats are on the scaredy side! Be a sheep. Be a shepherd as well, help your fellow man. Fear the Lord, follow in His ways, and live for an eternity in paradise!
Go with God, Scott