Don’t Panic

How do you handle something frightening? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have a general rule about major “crises” in the world today. That’s to do my best to not panic. Fearmongering doesn’t do any good. Generally, I am anxiety prone. Having gone through a divorce now, I even take medication to help me with anxiety and it does a great deal of good, but I still have to apply the wisdom I have and my knowledge of Scripture. I don’t condemn medication, but medication without sound practice is not wise at all.

When the Coronavirus was first announced, I heard the news about it being on a cruise ship and how the majority of the people there recovered just fine. I knew then the simple principle I had through all other number of diseases and viruses that came our way. It’s a simple tip. As Douglas Adams said, “Don’t Panic.”

So as I saw the rest of the world me panicking over the Coronavirus, I was handling it just fine. Now note this part. I am not denying the virus is real. I am not denying that many people suffered and died from it. I am not saying that we shouldn’t take precautions in this. What I am saying is we shouldn’t lose our minds in fear. My contention is a lot of the measures we take to stop the virus in the long run actually did a lot more harm than they did good.

I think many people who did that fear lean towards the left politically also, so let’s look at the right as well. Yesterday, my mother came upstairs to my room, seeing as I have been living with my parents since the divorce, though I hope to be accepted at NOBTS and move down to New Orleans soon. She told me that soon toothpaste would be at $10 a tube. I generally buy the cheapest store brand stuff that I can so I rarely pay more than $1 or so. We’re talking about a major price increase.

So I looked it up. I found that there was an article about inflation that said that Colgate was coming out with a new toothpaste that would be $10 a tube. My guess is someone saw that and panicked and ran with it. In our society, it’s like we have an addiction to fear. We practically want to be afraid of something. That way, we can feel safe when we know someone can take care of it.

Now to go back to what my mother said, note that I am not at all denying inflation. I work in retail. I see it every day that I work. I am not at all denying high gas prices. I am halfway between 41 and 42 and I have never seen gas prices this high. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have any concern.

However, let’s consider this. Isn’t it when times are hardest that often people rise up and do the most good? I just finished listening to a biography of John Adams while driving. It’s amazing to hear about what these ordinary people did in the start of our nation’s history. Were they scared? Sure they were. If they weren’t, they were crazy. They were taking on the most powerful people at the time in the world, if not the most powerful ever.

We also know there were preachers who preached a sermon every Sunday and yet they had a bounty on their heads. They kept going. They weren’t letting their fear control them.

We could point to many other times in history. As Christians, we hold that the disciples were scared after the crucifixion of Jesus. Where would our world be if they had not lost that fear? Where would they be if they had stayed locked in that room even after the Holy Spirit came? I happen to also like the prayer in Acts 4 that they speak the Word of God with boldness. They still had fear and needed to overcome it.

Panicking about something really does us no good. With medication, matters are much easier for me and if that’s what it takes for you, that’s fine too. I also recommend the book by Pierce Taylor Hobbs called Struck Down But Not Destroyed. The book is the best book on anxiety I have ever read and if you want to know about the Facebook group he has for this, well, you need to read the book and then join it as he tells the name of the group in it.

I don’t know how many times in the past I knew i needed to get up early to do something and I would worry if i would get to sleep in time to get all the sleep I need. Want to know what happened? No, you don’t. You already know. Odds are you’ve been there. You don’t sleep nearly as well that night.

Panic doesn’t do any good. Concern is one thing, but if it drives you to do nothing, then it is useless. If you have any fear or anything of that sort, let it drive you to do something about it. After my separation from my ex, for example, I knew I could lie down and be the victim and let life walk all over me. That was a choice. However, I chose instead to not be a victim anymore, but to get up and live my life and make the most of it. As a lifelong gamer, I chose to play to win. Some people after a divorce want revenge on their ex.

Sue Grafton, for instance, is the mystery writer who wrote those books that were the alphabet mysteries like A Is For Alibi. How did she get started with this? Her divorce and custody battles left her so hurt she thought about ways to murder her ex and knew she was a law-abiding citizen and would never do it, so why not turn them into murder mysteries? It’s certainly a better outlet than committing actual murder.

Also, as a Christian, I have recently told two people who have come to me scared about something to consider a Babylon Bee headline. Lord God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, Omnipotent and Omniscient is Totally Caught Off Guard by XYZ. Put whatever you want in that blank. It will work the same way. When you hear it that way, if you’re a Christian, you can say, “Yeah. That is ridiculous.

I also think of the Heidelberg Catechism. While this Catechism is Protestant and more specifically Calvinistic and used to teach Calvinist doctrines, the first part, every Christian Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox, should be able to affirm.

1. Q.
What is your only comfort
in life and death?
A.
That I am not my own,
but belong with body and soul,
both in life and in death,
to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.
This is in gaming terms the ultimate cheat code. Whatever happens to you, you win. Now you may not like it as it is happening or when it happens, but you will still win in the end.

So folks, when the next craze comes along, take it seriously if need be and take proper precautions, but don’t panic. It never does you any good and only makes you less effective to handle it. Stand up and face the problem. It’s hard to solve it if you’re running from it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Book Plunge: The Conservative Heart

What do I think of Arthur Brooks’s book published by Broadside Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Without a doubt, The Conservative Heart is one of the most important books I’ve ever read. Some might think it’s just because of the embodiment of good conservative principles, which is great, but also because this applies to so many areas, such as my main one of Christian apologetics. Not only that, but it leaves me with hope. It leaves me thinking the American Dream is still out there for all of us.

Practically every page contained something worth highlighting. In fact, were I to go through again doing this, it would be easier to just highlight the parts that weren’t as moving and gripping. Challenge after challenge comes to the reader about how one can best function in our society and impart hope to people who are in a difficult place. (Including myself)

Brooks starts off with what we need to be happy, and it’s simple. We have the idea of loving things and using people. The real idea is to love people and use things. Wealth is not bad. There is no evil in money. What is wrong is to have the attachment to money. In fact, Brooks contends that some wealth is necessary for true happiness. Brooks never cites it, but I think of Proverbs 30:8-9.

Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
    give me neither poverty nor riches,
    but give me only my daily bread.
 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
    and so dishonor the name of my God.

We chase after so many goods that we think will bring us happiness instead of looking for memories that will bring us happiness. We also look to other gods of our age, like sex, when Brooks presents research that says that if you want to know how many sexual partners happy people tend to have, the answer is simple. One. (Looks like I’m covered.)

Brooks argues that what is needed for people is not just to give them a hand-out, but people want to do meaningful work. People don’t care about being rich usually, as long as they think they’re contributing to society. They want to fulfill a purpose and sadly, our government programs can often treat them as if they’re dependents and they need to stay down and they can’t make it. People want a hand-up more than they want a hand-out.

One program he looks at is the Ready, Willing, and Able program. This program takes people off the streets and then make them work. When they’ve completed a trial period, then they’re trained in a field of their choice and they’re taught how to make a budget and get regular drug testing. If they don’t pass the test, they get out of the program then and lose the benefits. It’s had a successful effect as well.

The idea is to see every person as having something worthy to contribute to the cause. Every time you see someone out there in the world who is in a desperate situation, you can see that as someone who could be in a place of serving the world and making it better. Don’t just see a statistic. See a person.

Brooks also points out that on the whole conservatives give more to charitable causes than liberals do. Brooks even found this as a surprise as he was expecting liberals would give more. Even after you account for income differences, conservatives are giving more of their money to charity and giving more across the board from volunteer service to blood donation.

Brooks also points out that working is a gift. He talks about being on a plane next to someone who was a CFO of a company that handles several fast food franchises. Brooks is asking about the industry and then asks, quite foolishly he’d agree, if the man ever regretted creating so many dead-end jobs.

The man gets point blank with Brooks and tells him that if you come in and work for a year, you’ll probably get promoted to an assistant manager. Go four years and you can become a store manager. Go further and you can reach further because as he says, he began his career flipping burgers.

Bottom line to get? There are no dead-end jobs.

In fact, what matters most even more than how much it pays is how much meaning the job gives the person. Can the person feel like they’re a part of the story instead of just a burden to everyone else? That is what people long for.

Now in all of this Brooks is not against a safety net. Yes. Some people will need help. It should be a success in our system that we have enough surplus that we can care for those in need, but it is not a success if we see a lot of people having to be cared for. The net is there for trapeze artists should they fall, but it’s not a great performance if we just see them fall in the net and stay there and do tricks from the net.

Brooks also contends that we have to do better getting our message out. If conservatives care, which we do, why is it assumed we don’t? It’s because a lot of us like to talk about what we’re against. We don’t tend to talk about what we’re for. Consider the minimum wage. We hear someone make a statement about the minimum wage and how it should be raised. We respond by pointing out the damage that will be done to those on the lowest rung of the economic ladder and that it won’t help them in the long run and ideas like that. Is that true? Yep. What does the other person hear? We’re against helping the poor and we have no solutions to the problem. What if we said something like this?

I agree that those on the lowest end of the economic perspective or struggling and we must help them out the best that we can and enable them to live on their own and I have no doubt you have good intentions, but your ideas just won’t work because of XYZ. I propose instead that we give tax cuts to those above so they can have more freedom to hire more people and in fact pay them more and that will include those who are on the lowest economic level.

You see? I haven’t just started there with what I’m against. I’ve started with what I’m for and then something that can be done to help out and that it will help those out. We can often get the picture that we’re just negative because it often looks like all we do is argue against something instead of for something.

Brooks also points out that if we want our movements, we need to start appealing to the people first and what they already hold to or at least want them to hold to. When King began speaking about civil rights, he spoke to the people about what they would agree with and he acted like he had a majority even before he had a majority. He spoke pointing to the transcendental values we all hold dear. That is how he convinced people. The same happened with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Although I don’t agree with this last group’s beliefs, the homosexual movement I contend did the exact same thing.

There is much more that can be said about this book but the most important thing to be said is to read it. Study it. Learn it well. While I find it great at defending my own conservative principles, I realize the same can work at defending my own Christian principles too.

Thank you Dr. Brooks for this wonderful work!

In Christ,
Nick Peters