The Time of the Virus has taught us all many things. We’re learning new words, how to cook new meals at home, and that we rarely washed our hands for twenty seconds. But I’ll bet you didn’t think that you were learning how to become a pacifist!
That’s right! You have been embracing the enemy-loving, Jesus-y ethic that is pacifism!
Pacifism gets a bad rap. It gets mixed up with passivism – doing nothing. In our present situation “doing nothing” would mean continuing on with how we used to live: meeting with friends and family, hugging or shaking hands with others, going out to work, school, restaurants, parks, and gathering in large groups for sports, weddings, or funerals. Doing all those things would actually mean “doing nothing” in the face of this virus.
However, like good pacifists, we are actively working against the spread of this virus by doing the hard work of not “doing nothing.” We are staying home, washing our hands for twenty seconds, cleaning or disinfecting more frequently, socially/physically distancing, and only making essential trips.
Pacifism requires creativity, commitment, trust, and a whole lot of patience. It is much more than being anti-war. Pacifism also engenders criticism by those who want quick, decisive, and often violent actions. This virus can’t be defeated that way. People talk about “fighting the virus,” but there’s nothing violent about staying home. We need to be patient, creative, and actively not “do nothing.” We’re all learning how to become pacifists.