Guest Columnist

The Easter story and pandemic share themes

Jody Gustafson, a Burlington High School food service worker reads a thank you card while handing out meals Tuesday Marc
Jody Gustafson, a Burlington High School food service worker reads a thank you card while handing out meals Tuesday March 24, 2020 along the main office driveway at the school in Burlington, Iowa. ( John Lovretta/The Hawk Eye via AP)

For Christians, the Easter story is both about hope and denial. The pandemic season story shares the same two themes.

Nurses, doctors and EMT’s give us hope that not all Easter seasons will require a ventilator, and personal protective equipment (PPE) hunt instead of hunting for the bright colored surprises the Easter bunny leaves. These people are risking their lives and the lives of their families to treat as many sick people under horrendous conditions to give hope a chance.

But the highly trained medical people are not the only hope heroes.

Each day I hear about a person or a group making sure hope survives. Teachers virtually reach out to students even though the students may know far more about the technology being used then their teachers. They find ways to stay in contact and stay apart. Because of this, students know they have an isolation family, and a family led by a teacher trying to master the intricacies of distance learning.

School lunch ladies also serve up breakfast and lunch in paper bags of hope that parents grab and take home so kids don’t go hungry.

We’ve learned that some of the lowest wage workers, those we just can’t afford to pay $15 an hour, are the real super heroes. In nursing homes, the aides are still there caring and reassuring some of our most vulnerable and venerable.

Delivery drivers still run to the door and ring the bell. Now, they leave even faster than the Christmas rush, because they don’t want to drag an unwanted package called Covid-19 back to their families.

Police and Firefighters aren’t spending their days and nights binge watching the latest Netflix. They are doing their jobs, and so are mail people and grocery clerks. I know some are reluctant heroes and may scoff at the definition of “Essential employee,” but most answer the bell and go to work so we can stay home.

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With all the hope, there sure is a lot of denial floating around, and it’s a lot more than just three times found in the Easter story.

I know it’s not healthy to focus on the past instead of looking toward the future, but even in the Easter Story the one denied confronted his denier.

In the first weeks, when we should have been ramping up testing and finding enough ventilators and PPE before the medical tsunami hit our hospitals, the White House was busy calling the virus a “Democratic hoax,” and passing it off as another flu.

As a result of the president’s denial, probably 30 percent of his disciples went into full denial, and at least five Republican governors, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds included, still refuse to follow the full advice of medical experts.

The Democrats are also guilty. When the President shut the boarder to China after 45 other counties had done the same, his decision was strongly criticized by Democratic leaders. We now know the boarder closing worked as a preventive measure.

But it wasn’t just state and national politicians that were in denial. We all were treated to spring breakers playing on the beach and fugitively flashing the middle finger at old people, the ones early on thought to be the only potential victims.

Also, despite repeated warnings from health officials, some so-called religious leaders seem threatened by science, or intrusive government, or by the loss of collection revenue and are still holding huge in-person church services.

If we follow the science, like the Easter story, there is the hope soon there will be a resurrection of normal life despite the denial.

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Bruce Lear lives in Sioux City and recently retired after 38 years of being connected to public schools. He was a teacher for eleven years and a regional director for Iowa State Education Association the last 27 years. He grew up in Shellsburg, Iowa. BruceLear2419@gmail.com

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