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Why God allows evil

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I’ve been seeking to learn why it is God, our Creator, allows so much evil. It is a perplexing question.

I suppose I should start with full disclosure. I’m not a pastor, minister, or priest. Nor am I a theologian. Actually, I’m just one of you! You and I, those who are curious. Being curious is probably a good thing even at my age – beyond-seven-decades. I believe there is God. Also that He created all that is. With that as a foundation, let’s get back to evil.

As long as there have been two or more humans on this planet, there has been evil. Let’s face it. At the outset, Adam and Eve were given but one rule. It seems they took very little time breaking that one rule. Some time later they gave birth to two sons. One of those sons murdered the other.

So evil has clearly always been an ingredient of human behavior. Seems odd, doesn’t it? Countless humans over the centuries have asked, “How could a God who created us and who loves us saddle us with so much evil?”

We look about and observe a plethora of evil human behavior. As evidence, we see greed, pride, lies, deception, theft, corruption, and lewd conduct. Human history seethes with examples. So does our present day. Examples abound!

But getting back to the perplexing question. Why so much evil? In our effort to unravel that ‘why so much evil’ question, we will need to examine three topics: the nature of God, the ingredients of love, and God’s gift of free will. All of this will clearly be illustrated within an ancient narrative story.

We could begin with that story. But first, a quick review of a couple of things we understand to be true about God. He created us. He loves us. He wants us to be with Him in eternity. There is more, of course. But one characteristic in particular is relevant to our discussion here: He is omniscient. Knowing all makes perfect sense once we’ve established that He created all.

But, given that He knows all, doesn’t that mean that He knows we humans will do evil things? And if He knows the evil we will do, why does He not prevent us from doing so?

This is a good time to turn to the story. I particularly like this narrative because it explains and clarifies so much. Let’s meet Joseph.

This Joseph is not the spouse of Mary who gave birth to Jesus. No, we must go all the way back to the book of Genesis to meet this Joseph. This Joseph is the son of Jacob, who was the son of Isaac. That makes this Joseph the grandson of Abraham.

The story is an early Biblical example of human evil. Joseph’s brothers were jealous and hated him. So they sold Joseph, Jacob’s favored son, to traders headed for Egypt. Eventually, Joseph was sold to an officer of the Pharaoh.

Evil behavior! And this while God, knowing all, was looking on. This seems contrary to what we humans think we know about God. Much of our Sunday-school teaching tends to focus on another characteristic about “Our Father who art in Heaven.” That characteristic is love. So let’s focus now on love.

Over the years – my years, that is — I have given no small amount of thought to the topic of love. In brief, what I came up with is this. First, love is a gift. It’s God’s gift to us. But it also is our gift to other humans.

Now, the most essential characteristic of love – whether that from God or that from humans – is that it is incomplete, it cannot and will not survive, without being returned. That “return loop” is called reciprocity.

Think of an elongated oval. Imagine this egg-shaped figure – also called elliptical – having embedded arrows. One arrow is outbound love destined for a recipient. Once it reaches its target, the recipient has choices. Receive or reject. Retain or return. If we decide to receive and return love, the arrow now travels along that same oval back to the source of the gift. That’s reciprocity.

Soon we’ll return to our story of Joseph whose life as a servant of the Pharaoh has placed the young lad in a position of great responsibility. Joseph has become the Pharaoh’s highest officer with command of both the royal household and the entire country of Egypt. But first let’s get back for now to love and that oval of reciprocity.

Once the gift of love has been sent, received, and returned, we can see that the process is complete. Had the gift been rejected, or even received but simply retained like a box on a closet shelf, the cycle is incomplete. Without reciprocity, then, love withers and dies like a plant without water.

But now we come to the most important point. And it is this point which explains why it is God allows evil to exist.

We have said that once the gift of love reaches its target, the recipient has choices. Receive or reject. Retain or return. Choices! We call these choices free will.

When God created humans, He gave them – and each of us – free will. Some theologians are still looking for those words in the Bible. But what they should be looking for is not the word. Rather, free will is found in Genesis as action.

Our most distant parents, remember, were given that one rule in the Garden of Eden. They were not to eat the fruit of one particular tree. But they did so. They chose to eat that fruit. That “choice” was possible only because they had free will.

And why were they, and we, given that “choice” to do or not do? Now we are approaching the answer to our dilemma: the why of evil. The answer is found within our search for the nature of love. Choices.

It is free will that allows us to receive or reject, retain or return. And our Creator understood the risk. He gave us free will. But He recognized we might choose reject and retain rather than receive and return. Why did He take that risk?

We must think of free will in binary terms. It is either free or not free. It cannot be both. Our Lord knew that. So now, let’s return to thinking about the nature of love.

The only way God’s love for His humans can be complete is if we choose to accept, receive, and return that love. And the only way that can happen is for us to have the freedom to choose. Hence, free will.

Human history is chock full of examples of human free will gone awry!

Now we’ll examine one more crucially important distinction. Earlier we noted that God is omniscient. But knowing is not the same as causing. It is also not the same as allowing. Actually, I’m convinced that God’s knowing often causes Him no small amount of agony. After all, which of us would enjoy knowing ahead of time and with absolute certainty that something horribly tragic is about to happen?

Imagine watching your son, just beyond the age of toddler. He’s reaching for a pot of boiling water on the stove. You know what is about to happen. In my book Eternity, I wrote:

“And you watch. But you do not move. Every muscle and nerve in your body twitches then knots itself into a searing, painful mass of energy. Still you don’t interfere because you gave your son free will. And what seconds ago was Jeremy’s inquisitive little face is now …. Your knowledge has just turned to agony. Gut-wrenching, nauseating agony.”

So, returning to our story of Joseph – his brothers do evil, sell him as slave. All the while our Lord God knew in advance what was to happen. He knew also that He would not intervene in the action thus negating free will.

So, what did He do instead? He used their evil deed to the ultimate benefit of others. How did this play out?

Many years after their evil deed, Joseph’s brothers find themselves standing before the Pharaoh’s mightiest officer. Notice what follows:

“I am Joseph, your brother,” he said, “the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed or angry with yourselves that you sold me into this place, because it was to save lives that God sent me before you. For the famine has covered the land these two years, and there will be five more years without plowing or harvesting. God sent me before you to preserve you as a remnant on the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. Therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God, who has made me a father to Pharaoh—lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 45)

And near the end of the story, following the death of Jacob (also called Israel), the brothers fear Joseph will seek revenge for their misdeed. But Joseph quells their fear:

“As for you, what you intended against me for evil, God intended for good, in order to accomplish a day like this—to preserve the lives of many people.” (Genesis 50)

And now we can return to the perplexing question which launched this venture.

We have learned that God loves us. But we have also learned that His love can reach fruition, become complete, only if we choose to receive it, accept it, and return it. We also discovered that such a choice is an available option to all humans only because of yet another of God’s gifts. Free will.

Finally, when we abuse free will with our misdeeds, God may use our evil to achieve His own goal. His goal? The greater good – the salvation of all humans who choose to receive and return His gift of love.

We must not conclude this reflection on the why of evil, however, without this final clarification. It is important for us to recognize the distinction between the words so that and the word and. Our Creator, our Lord, does not allow evil so that He might use it. So that implies purpose. This could lead us to believe that He wants us to engage in evil. He clearly does not wish us to do evil. Rather, He allows freedom of choice, and He may use our flawed choices and their consequences to bring about a greater good. Let us recognize: so that implies intent while and does not do so.

And that, dear readers, is my answer to this perplexing question.

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Christ is alive, He is living today

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“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” – John 21:25

The Season of Easter is the high point of the Christian Church year. Traditionally, worshipers participate in an extended feast wherein the paschal candle is lit at every service as a sign of the risen Christ. Scripture readings highlight every Christian’s connection to the death and resurrection of Jesus. The scripture readings proclaim the power of the resurrection that gives strength in suffering, unity in diversity, consolation in sorrow, perseverance in adversity and faith in times of doubt. On this, the holiest day of the year and for the entire Season of Easter, many Christian’s greet each other with the words, “Alleluia! Christ is risen! Alleluia!”

Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead is one of the principal doctrines of the gospel.

If Christ be not risen, our faith is vain (1 Corinthians 15:14). The essential New Testament revelation balances on this as a historical fact. On the day of Pentecost, Peter argued the necessity of Christ’s resurrection from the prediction in Psalm 16 (Acts 2:24-28). Christ also clearly prophesied his resurrection (Matthew 20:19; Mark 9:9; 14:28; Luke 18:33; John 2:19-22). Thus we can preach that Jesus is alive; that He has risen as He said He would and that He is the Son of God as He claimed to be. Christ is alive! He is living today.

The Bible informs us that Jesus did appear many times after his death and resurrection:

  • The empty tomb – Resurrection Sunday – Matthew 28: 1-10, Mark 16: 1-8, Luke 24: 1-12, John 20: 1-9.
  • To Mary Magdalene at the garden – Resurrection Sunday – Mark 16: 9-11, John 20: 11-18.
  • To other women, “the other Mary,” Salome, Joanna, and others, as they returned from the tomb – Resurrection Sunday – Matthew 28: 9-10.
  • To Simon Peter alone – Resurrection Sunday – Luke 24: 34, 1 Corinthians 15: 5.
  • To the two disciples going to Emmaus – Resurrection Sunday – Mark 16: 12-13, Luke 24: 13-32.
  • To the ten disciples (Thomas being absent) in the upper room – Resurrection Sunday – Luke 24: 36-43, John 20: 19-25.
  • To the disciples again (Thomas being present) – Following Sunday – Mark 16: 14, John 20: 26-31, 1 Corinthians 15: 5.
  • To seven disciples when fishing at the Sea of Galilee – sometime later – John 21: 1-23.
  • To the eleven at an appointed place in Galilee – sometime later – Matthew 28: 16-20, Mark 16: 15-18.
  • More than 500 brethren – sometime later – 1 Corinthians 15: 6.
  • To James, but under unknown circumstances – sometime later – 1 Corinthians 15: 7.
  • To the apostles immediately before the ascension. They accompanied him from Jerusalem to Mount Olivet and there they saw him ascend “till a cloud received him out of their sight” – Forty days after Jesus’ resurrection – Luke 24: 44-49, Acts 1: 3-8.

In addition to the above appearances, Christ will return by way of vision and appear to Stephen, several times to Paul, and finally to John to give him the final Revelation:

  • Paul at Damascus, speaks of it as an appearance of the risen Savior – several years later – Acts 9: 1-19, 22: 3-16, 26: 9-18, 1 Corinthians 9: 1, 15: 8.
  • Paul tells us in Galatians 1:17 that he went immediately into Arabia and then returned to Damascus and three years after his transforming vision of Jesus, he went up to Jerusalem to see the Apostles. During Paul’s 3 years in Arabia he received the Gospel from the Lord (Galatians 1:11-17). He made a visit to the Throne of God (2 Corinthians 12:1-4) where he saw things he was not permitted to reveal. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, when Paul recounted all the Lord’s post resurrection appearances, he included himself as one who had seen Him. So, at some point, he apparently did have a physical meeting with the Lord.
  • Stephen in his dying vision saw “Jesus standing on the right hand of God” – sometime later – Acts 7: 55-56.
  • John of Patmos experienced a vision of the resurrected Christ described in Revelation – many years later – Revelation 1: 12-20.

It is implied in the words of Luke (Acts 1:3) that there may have been other appearances of which we have no record.

2 Corinthians 13 cites that, “in the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses every word shall be established.” The resurrection of Jesus Christ has been established as fact. The scriptures tell us of the many appearances of Christ and the witnesses who experienced the events encompassing the resurrection. In Christ we can be confident of our salvation and in Christ we can be confident of our own resurrection.

The apostle John wrote in 1 John 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” We should find the assurance of our salvation in the truth of God’s Word. We should have trust that we are saved based on the promises God has declared.

A final note: Ephesians 5:13-15

Children of Light

13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise.


Mark P. Gunderman
Stephens City, Virginia

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The Governor, the COVID-19 Pandemic, and the Constitution

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In the struggle against COVID-19, policymakers are balancing the health of the people they serve against other important things: work, family life, education, social gatherings, religious worship, and liberty. These things, while they are not life itself, are, to most, at least part of what gives life its joy and flavor. They are the things that liberty, which was at the heart of the Revolution that gave us the Commonwealth of Virginia, serve and make possible.

On Tuesday of last week, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued Executive Order 53, which he augmented with Executive Order 55 on Monday of this week. Together these efforts represent his Administration’s balance between liberty and the spread of a communicable disease.

His orders ban both public and private gatherings of more than ten people and ban leaving the house except for certain approved purposes. He makes violations of these orders punishable by fines and jail time. In doing so, he exempts some gatherings from the decrees, declaring them “essential.” While his list of “essential” activities includes the operations of the media and the government, it does not include religious services.

Virginia is now living in a strange reality where, by two strokes of his pen, the governor has essentially criminalized the everyday life of Virginians. Work, family gatherings, education, graduations, and the worship of Almighty God, could get you fined or thrown in jail. Virginians should think long and hard about that.

One thing that most Virginians will be quick to realize is that such threats are overkill. The vast majority of people (including me) have accepted that the pandemic has made social distancing a prudent course of action for a time, until conditions are more favorable to combat the disease, and are willing to accept the guidance of experts on the matter. Most religious congregations, including my own, are strictly following these guidelines and have canceled public in-person gatherings. Even the smallest and most vulnerable businesses are heeding the advice of public health experts and are closing, with their owners and employees remaining at home.

Most Virginians, however, will sense that something more than just overkill is in play, and they would be correct. In Virginia, which was founded on the idea of popular sovereignty, and is governed according to a Constitution that protects our personal liberty, the Governor cannot go as far as he has. It is not possible to reconcile these Orders with the text of the Constitution they invoke, which protects the right to peaceably assemble (Virginia Bill of Rights, Section 12) and the free exercise of religion (Virginia Bill of Rights, Section 16).

The most a government that respects its constitutional limitations can do is offer a strong recommendation, back it up with compelling arguments grounded in the best learning on the topic, and repeat it. It crosses a bright ontological line—one that people have died to draw—to go from offering a recommendation to issuing an order, one that the Executive will enforce with fines and jail time. This is especially the case when there is no need for imposing such measures on people who are behaving this way anyway.

Instead, with these orders, the Governor has needlessly complicated his response to the pandemic by taking reasonable, life-saving health guidance and turning it into a crusade against civil society. He has heaped both a constitutional and moral crisis on top of the existing health and economic crises. He has created a necessity for vigilant citizens to work to defend the constitution while trying to stay healthy and financially solvent.

When our forefathers enshrined in the Constitution the freedom to peaceably assemble and the right to the Free Exercise of religion, they did so knowing that these freedoms would come under attack, and had wisdom deep enough to know that this was most likely to occur during a crisis. Where there is tension between measures intended to protect life and the liberty to enjoy it, our Constitution has already struck a clear balance. It does not guarantee us perfect health or freedom from disease; it guarantees us liberty. If that is unsatisfactory to some, they must change the Constitution.

Hopefully reason will prevail with the Governor, and he will revise his approach. If he does not, the people will have an obligation to work to reverse his decrees.

A health crisis, however severe, is no excuse to trample the Constitution. In some respects, the willingness of Virginians to take the measures necessary to protect their health makes this an easy case. If the Governor does not readjust his approach, however, the situation will escalate, causing unnecessary controversy and risk. The Governor has an obligation to work harder to strike a balance that heeds the Constitution.

Scott Lloyd is an attorney from Front Royal, Virginia.

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Spanish Flu

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historically speaking

There has been a lot of criticism over the President’s use of the term “Chinese virus” and rightfully so. Names have not always been an accurate way of identifying ground zero for any disease. Health leaders have named this current virus COVID-19. You cannot call this coronavirus because that is a blanket term that covers any type of upper respiratory infection. Also, COVID-19 does not mean the 19th Chinese-originated viral infectious disease this year; it simply stands for Corona Virus Disease 19. Historically speaking we have seen that naming a disease after a region is not always accurate.

With the last great pandemic, the name Spanish Flu is completely inaccurate. The 1918 flu that killed around 50 million worldwide actually is now believed to have begun in Kansas. Yes, the Spanish Flu is actually the Kansas Flu. When Kansans first started going to the doctor, they were treated for the flu, but it was not seen as anything different. At first the problem was not big enough to raise attention and doctors had no good way to report. As the flu spread it did start to receive notice from health and government officials, but coming on the heels of the tragedy of WWI, the governments of the Allied powers tried to stop panic and keep up moral. The disease did not become well known until it hit Spain. Spain was neutral in the War and so not part of the Allies. When the King of Spain came down with the new flu, the Spanish media was free to report it. With the Spanish media being the only ones discussing the new disease, it became known as the Spanish Flu.

The flu hit Europe hard. Large concentrations of troops still there for the War and the troops and the people were worn out and prime for a contagious virus. With so many getting sick and dying and the Spanish press reporting, Allied nations could no longer contain the story. The outbreak in America had not taken off from the original infection, so as troops began arriving from home they brought it from Europe with them.

The idea was that Americans, because of early contact, may have been immune, but those theories were discarded when the virus mutated in the fall and Boston became one of the epicenters. By September, 85,000 Bostonians had the flu and, just south of them in Philadelphia, hundreds were dying a day. It got so bad in the City of Brotherly Love that they ran out of caskets and the manpower to bury the dead. It got so bad in San Francisco that citizens were asked to stop using the phone. No one could reach medical help because lines were tied up and operators were sick. In many ways the Spanish Flu created a situation that is starting to happen now–the streets are empty and everyone’s wearing masks.

A couple of lessons we can learn from the Spanish Flu. First, it came in three waves. Hopefully that will not happen with COVID-19. It started in the spring of 1918 but hit one of its small peaks in June. I know there is hope that COVID-19 will fade out during the warm summer months, but we see that this type of disease can have some peaks then. The largest of the flu’s peaks did come in the colder months of October and November of 1918, followed by another small peak in March the next year.

Secondly, in 1918 it was widely reported that the use of masks was responsible for the containment. This caused a huge run on masks. However, this has been proven as false. One historian, Alfred W. Crosby, who has studied the Spanish Flu, wrote, “People could and did honestly believe that a few layers of gauze would keep out flu bugs, just as screens kept the flies off the front porch.” Crosby credits the flu vaccine for the decline and not masks. The use of masks and the vaccine just happened to start at the same time.

A third possible lesson is to wait and see when and how the disease started. There is some suggestion that COVID-19 may have been in the U.S. long before it was reported. As in 1918, COVID-19 was first regarded as the flu, but now, looking back, health officials are investigating the chance that COVID-19 made it to America in November or December. These cases have not been confirmed, but understanding the Spanish Flu tells us that it is possible.

Lastly, we learn that distancing works, but ultimately a vaccine is needed. If not, we could be isolating ourselves in our homes for much longer than we might expect.


Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium. Follow Historically Speaking at www.Historicallyspeaking.blog or Facebook at @jamesWfinck.

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Coronavirus: Case for eradication of stupidity, not case for war

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Suppose I told you our current coronavirus pandemic can be traced to Wuhan, China. “Old news,” you might say.

Suppose I added that four published academic journals dating from 2007 reveal research on this virus. “So what?” you might say.

Suppose I added that ten staff members of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have contributed to the coronavirus research. “Sounds reasonable,” you add.

Suppose I added that working with the University of North Carolina staff members was Zhengli-Li Shi of the Laboratory of Special Pathogens and Biosafety, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Will you still say, “Sounds reasonable”?

And if you are ready now to question what sounds reasonable, let’s add one more tidbit. Suppose I added that this same Zhengli-Li Shi of China secured a Chinese grant to jointly fund this research and at least one other such study mentioned in this article.

A Chinese grant?

Now is a good time to introduce ourselves to Professor Francis Boyle.

“What might Boyle contribute to the discussion?” you might ask.

Quite a bit, actually. Boyle knows all that’s worth knowing about biological warfare. He is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. He drafted the U.S. implementing legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention, known as the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989.

And what does he say about today’s coronavirus?

He says China “bought” our science (remember the grant?) and took it back to China.

Boyle calls what China bought “a turbo-charged biological weapon.” Science calls it a “gain of function.” In brief, add genetic engineering to SARS and HIV to make a more potent biological weapon.

We should recall before proceeding further that biological warfare is nothing new. And because some nations pursue such weapons, others must devise defensive measures. In this article, I am not proposing that the United States has been attacked. Yet.

More likely, given where and when this coronavirus originated, I believe it to be more likely that a mishap in Wuhan might account for our present pandemic. What nation would test its biological weapon on its own citizens before deploying it as a weapon?

But Professor Boyle, in his video update on coronavirus bioweapon video, does reveal his concerns over more lethal, more infectious (gain of function) weapons being “studied.”

I will later offer relevant quotations from some of those studies. We will see the why of Boyle’s concerns.

But for now, let’s go back to September 11, 2001. There is a troublesome similarity between that attack and our current “coronavirus” pandemic. It is clear that we have not learned the lessons of that horrific attack.

The similarity? In the 9/11 attack, our enemy used us to attack us. Terrorists had used our country – lived among us. They used our flight training schools. They used our own aircraft as weapons.

From the standpoint of post-attack analysis, we are forced to credit our 9/11 enemy with excellent planning, excellent preparation, excellent mission accomplishment.

So, why do we now fail to detect that our enemy “uses us” in preparation to attack us?

Sure, we can argue that we all benefit from shared research and that our research is dedicated to finding and preventing yet more lethal virus variations.

But now, keep an eye out for how many times the name Zhengli-Li Shi of China is associated with biological research within the United States. Notice the grants from China. Notice shared information. Ask yourself, have we failed to learn the lessons of 9/11?

I’ll conclude with selected quotations from the four published studies I’ve consulted. I encourage you to seek out those studies, or others, with an eye to the thin line between biological research and biological warfare.

Some revealing quotations:

“Since furin is highly expressed in the lungs, and enveloped virus that infects the respiratory tract may successfully exploit this.” (2)

“ …may provide a gain-of-function to the 2019-nCoV for efficient spreading in the human population.” (2)

“…plasmids encoding bat and human ACE2s were infected with pseudovirus HIV/BJ01-S. Infectivity was determined by measuring the activity of reporter luciferase as described…” (3)

“…these viruses may become infectious to humans if they undergo N-terminal sequence variation, for example, through recombination with other CoVs, which in turn might lead to a productive interaction with ACE2 or other surface proteins on human cells. (4)

“Using this approach, we characterized CoV infection mediated by the SHC014 spike protein in primary human airway cells….” (5)

“To extend these findings, primary human airway epithelial (HAE) cultures were infected and showed robust replication of both viruses (Fig. 1d). Together, the data confirm the ability of viruses with the SHC014 spike to infect human airway cells and underscore the potential threat of cross-species transmission of SHC014-CoV.” (5)

Even at a glance, with these quotations we can see – if not completely understand the science – why it is we need to be applying the lessons we ought to have learned from the 9/11 attack.

We are sharing, giving away, and selling (via grants) that allow others to “use us to defeat us.”


Sources:

  1. Prof. Francis Boyle Update on Coronavirus Bioweapon
    From <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DAI3c9wE0Q>
    Francis Boyle is a professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. He drafted the U.S. domestic implementing legislation for the Biological Weapons Convention, known as the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989.
  2. The spike glycoprotein of the new coronavirus 2019-nCoV contains a furin-like cleavage site absent in CoV of the same clade.
  3. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) proteins of different bat species confer variable susceptibility to SARS-CoV entry.
  4. The difference in Receptor Usage between Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) Coronavirus and SARS-Like Coronavirus of Bat Origin American Society for Microbiology, Journal of Virology, 12 December 2007 Vol 82-4.
  5. An sARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronavirus pose a threat for human emergence
    The National Library of Medicine National Medical 2016, April 22.
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A response to “Better Safe than Sorry”

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I’m confused by the letter to Editor from Mr. Bianchini titled ‘Better Safe than Sorry? ‘ because many know that he is a Reporter/Editor FOR the Royal Examiner. Actually, I thought that the opinions of Editors were Editorials and represented the definitive point of view of a paper. However, I know that the ‘Better Safe…..” letter wasn’t an Editorial because the Editor in Chief of the Examiner had clearly indicated that his opinion virtually mirrored the sentiments I expressed in my ‘COVID-19, Gov’t Help or Hinderance’ letter. I recommend not spending much time trying to make sense of an Editor penning a letter to himself though or you’ll end up needing a couple of aspirins or a stiff drink. I think if the truth was known, there may be an underlying issue of philosophical difference here between a more progressive individual and one with a more conservative-leaning.

With that said, the Better Safe… letter alleges that my comments are based on partisan ideology rather than objective analysis. Plus, that indictment is used to suggest that many other observations I made in my March 20 letter should be summarily discredited as a result. Since I always attempt to be objective and pragmatic and being concerned that his statements damaged my credibility as a community advocate, I felt the need to pen this response.

Mr. Bianchini states that my criticism of the Governor’s order limiting public access to restaurants and gyms was evidence of my partisan bias. However, I never mentioned the political persuasion of the Governor and would have made the same criticism if a Republican had acted the same way. The fact that his order was consistent with actions by other state governors and supported by respected scientists in the health field was not a basis for justifying the Governor’s order, in my opinion, because I felt the officials were solely focused on health issues with no consideration of economic issues. In all of the media presentations I watched on the pandemic, and there were many, not once did I hear a health official comment on any economic impact associated with the virus mitigations they recommended. Plus, each state has had varying experiences with the virus so I expected our Governor to be an independent thinker and make decisions based on circumstances that existed solely within our boundaries. When the Governor issued his restrictions there was minimal virus impact in Virginia. Additionally, I opined that social distancing occurred in both the placement of restaurant tables and gym equipment under normal conditions and thus the Governor’s 10 patron limit accomplished virtually nothing except causing many of those businesses to close and jobs to be lost.

Mr. Bianchini said that I defended President Trump when Democrats called him out on saying the virus was a hoax. Clearly, anyone paying attention to media reports would have heard the term was used to describe the Democrat and media response to the President’s actions and statements on the crisis rather than him suggesting the virus itself was a hoax. My defense was also supposed to relate to the President restricting European flights except for two countries where the President owns golf courses. That theory is ridiculous on its face. After entering office, the President gave up management of all of his companies, donated his full salary to the country and has more money than he could spend in several lifetimes. Additionally, wouldn’t it make better sense that the travel exemptions could have been based on the fact that those affected countries (England and Ireland I believe) were geographically separated from other European countries and did not have the volume of virus cases other European countries had? No evidence was included in the ‘Better Safe….” letter that golf courses had any influence on the President’s decision. Strangely enough though, very shortly after those countries were exempted from the travel restriction, they themselves were included in the ban because their virus experience increased significantly.

My claim that ‘the cure was more damaging than the disease’ was based on facts about other serious diseases where government actions were NOT taken that caused a negative impact on our economy. It is estimated that the typical flu will kill 50,000 Americans this year alone and society seems to take that death rate in stride without alarm or precautions which cause a great disruption to our economy. In 2009, the swine flu killed more than 10,000 Americans and a national emergency wasn’t even declared by the President then until 1,000 deaths had occurred. As of the morning of March 23, approximately 42,000 Americans had tested positive for Coronavirus and slightly more than 500 had died but the mitigation recommendations from health scientists have contributed to the virtual economic collapse that affects everyone.

Mr. Bianchini’s March 20, letter to himself asserted that time was needed to determine the impacts on the economy and small businesses. However, there is already overwhelming evidence that the economy is in free-fall with no end in sight. Fact, the stock market has lost over 35% of its value in just several weeks from an all-time high of over 29,000 and trillions of dollars have been lost in Americans’ 401Ks. Fact, the Federal Reserve reduced the interest rate by 100 basis points to .25 percent several days ago in an unprecedented action. The FED has taken other unusual quantitative easing steps to ensure liquidity as well. Fact, our Treasury Secretary projected the unemployment rate could jump above 20% when a couple of weeks ago it was the lowest (3.5) in over 50 years. Fact, a multitude of respected financial institutions have predicted the US Gross Domestic Product will decline by more than 20% in the second quarter of this year. Fact, small businesses have been closing, employees have been furloughed or fired and respected economists have predicted over 2 million jobs could be lost. Considering the above, only an individual with their head in the sand would question whether our economy is in severe distress yet!

The information presented above provides a basis for increasing the validity of other comments I made in the March 20 letter rather than reducing their credibility.

  • Students and parents are being terribly affected by school closings.
  • The oil supply conflict between Russia and the Saudi’s is exacerbating an already bad situation and the President should use sanctions if necessary to convince them to behave differently.
  • Stimulus payments should be targeted to individuals that lost jobs and income rather than broad-based.
  • Bail-outs to big corporations should come with limitations on stock buy-backs and executive bonuses.
  • A balance needs to be struck between protecting the health of a limited at-risk population and maintaining economic prosperity.
  • Critical products such as pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, electronics, etc. should be manufactured in the US vs China who is an adversary and is using trade imbalance profits to build a military that we may one day have to address with force.
  • Congress possibly approving a stimulus package of an obscene amount (trillions! )and increasing our national debt is not fiscally responsible behavior. How selfish is it that we want future citizens to pay for debt we create to address today’s problems?

In conclusion, my presentation here should dispel any claims made in the ‘Better Safe….’ letter that my opinions were based on partisan ideology rather than objective analysis, critical thinking and common sense. The truth is that I have substantial criticisms of the President’s behavior and character shortcomings while still being grateful for his Administration’s accomplishments that have benefited virtually all levels of the American public. Plus, the basis for my March 20 letter to the Editor is that I disagreed with the government’s actions because I felt they caused more damage than the virus had. Finally, I am not a member of either major political party and consider myself a Libertarian. Thus, if there is any partisan ideology or bias being represented in recent letters to the Editor, I leave it to you to judge whose it is.

Gary Kushner
Front Royal, Virginia

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Opinion

If your party loyalty is greater than your commitment to all the citizens, please resign

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The first premise for Town Council to consider: if your party loyalty is greater than your commitment to all the citizens, please resign. Then, the question. “What does the Town Council seem to be and/or actually do?”

The answer is that our governance unit has members who are offenders by a legal definition of an offense, some are opossums for playing dead to the Interim Town Manager and the offenders; one active person, and one too new perhaps to help. What have they allowed for the past few months?

They have ignored dealing with offenders who were part of firing people who advanced the economic well being of our town. Those who do nothing about the offenders and the offenders themselves go to fire the best help—people who did not make mistakes fired by people who do. Does that suggest party loyalty over nonpartisan commitment which is the standard in our Town Charter?

The gauntlet has been thrown down: if a person will not act on wrongdoing, then that person is condoning or complicit in the wrongful act. There are personnel complaints. The Town Council is not known to have dealt with any of the complaints. Act to discipline or get out of governance.

What does the Town Council plan to do? Who knows?

In the meantime, thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for taking up the cause of the Visitor Center to ensure accurate information about it is reported.

Linda Allen
Front Royal, Virginia

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