By Matt Reese
We are currently facing a time that may offer a chance for thought and introspection. Many folks are offering up words of wisdom and I will spare you most of mine, but I do want to share some of the wiser words I’ve come across during this unique time for our farms, our state and our nation.
One of the best things I have read comes from one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, and his “On Living in an Atomic Age” from 1948 where he writes about the great public concerns about the newly developing societal fears at the time. It seems there are many applications for our current situation.
In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors —anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.
It is so important to remember that the COVID-19 virus is certainly not the first calamity to befall us. This is certainly not the first time our government has asked something of us we may not want to do (it was not too long ago when there was a military draft mandating wartime service from citizens). It is also certainly not the first time health risks dictated much of our daily routine. There are some nuggets of great wisdom here written by Martin Luther back in 1527 when the Plague claimed countless lives around the world and came to his small town of Wittenberg. Here is what Luther — a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk, and a key figure in the Protestant Reformation — had to say when asked about the Christian role in those very dark times for human health.
“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”
With this in mind, please understand Ohio’s incredible agribusinesses are still working to serve Ohio agriculture as planting season approaches. Know that all in our incredible industry are working to maximize the health and safety of their employees and customers while maintaining their ability to maintain their vital services during these trying times. Take the time to call ahead, research online and do your part to adhere to the protocols put in places by various service providers and retailers in Ohio agriculture. All of the measures put in place by the government, businesses and municipalities have been done so for good reasons. Please respect them, even if you do not agree with them. Please empathize with government and industry leaders making tough decisions with limited information.
I sincerely hope everyone reading this can also maximize the opportunity to celebrate our farms, food supply, freedoms, and families for the incredible blessings that they are and appreciate the opportunity to do so, while still considering these wise words from my socially distanced neighbor just down the road.
If I am quarantined for two weeks with my wife and I die, I assure you it was not the virus that killed me.