If I’m honest, I’d have to say I’ve lost track of how many weeks we’ve been living with restrictions. I could probably go back and count it, but it hasn’t seemed like a big deal to me. We’re in exceptional circumstances and it requires exceptional measures. So, it hasn’t been hard to stay home. However, if I continue to be honest, I have to admit that for me these restrictions are incredibly easy and I haven’t felt threatened by Covid-19 at all. There are many others who are not so fortunate. There have been people who have been locked in hotel rooms alone for weeks and people isolated in detention. Nurses have been spat on and Asian-Australians have been targets of racism. People are out of work and families have gone hungry. There have been fights over rent and mortgages, and of course, even toilet paper.
All this has manifested into a singular value with conflicting ideas. What is right or just in a world in a pandemic? If you’re a landlord and a bank is forcing you to pay a mortgage, it’s right that your tenant pays you. But if you’re a tenant who has lost work, you’d feel entitled to a break. It’s easy to support forcing people into isolated hotel rooms for the “greater good”. But when it’s you who is forced into extreme conditions you begin to understand the weight and pain of isolation.
The issue being that we tend to define what is right and what is just as, what is right and just for us. We have a tendency to want to think about ourselves first. It’s so easy to shift our understanding of what is “right” that we may not even realise that we are shifting our values. Or applying different values and standards on different people at different times. Especially on ourselves.
The Bible has a different vision of justice and righteousness. Instead of putting ourselves at the centre of how we live, it shockingly calls us to put others first. It challenges us to recognise how Jesus extends to us a mercy we ourselves do not deserve, and to share that same love and mercy outwards towards the stranger.
So what is right or just in a world in a pandemic? The Bible would challenge us to remember to see that each person is created by God, loved by God, and valued by God. So we are called to see each person as God’s precious child the same as we are. Justice and Righteousness mean not shifting our values to benefit ourselves, but to think of others first.
If you want to explore the Bible and Justice a little more, you can watch this video.