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Everyone who has ever driven down a secluded country road on a peaceful night has risked the sudden shock of a bug or bird smacking your windshield, a squirrel tearing across the road, then pivoting and racing back and forth between your left and right headlights, the proverbial deer leaping out in front of you, stopping stock still, staring mesmerized into those same headlights, or the even more commanding obstacle of an Elk bounding into the road, then charging your car, any one of these instant obstructions leaving you shocked out of journey somnambulance, screeching to a halt.
The analogy could be made to many, if not most, of us as we emerge blinking into the light of the cessation of the Covid-19 onslaught. We can easily identify with the same plight of these creatures. Numerous options suddenly seem to confront us, leaving us wondering: “How do I decide what will pass for normal life for me in this new post-plague world?” Everywhere there are different rules in play. For instance, while the post office demands face masks remain on customers who want service, an increasing number of restaurants, stores and businesses have made masks optional. An underside of choice faces a number of potential workers confronted with the reality they can make more money on unemployment than they can working, leaving many puzzling should they rejoin the job market or not? And, with reports of new Coronavirus strains mutating as we speak, we wonder if we’re really safe to get together with those friends and neighbors who for one reason or another have received no Covid-19 vaccination (which does protect us from some other strains, but, perhaps not all), even if we ourselves have had both shots.
At the same time, that we are negotiating a “new normal,” a shocking number of malcontents are forging a new abnormal, as Insider.com reports: “225 shootings in the US in 2021 as of May 28. More than 17,000 people in the US have died so far in 2021 from gun-related violence. The US is on track to have more shootings in 2021 than any recent year on record.” While this bizarre development is taking place, good citizens are seeking some kind of healthy, regularly recognizable routine, considering what can be salvaged from life before Covid and what needs to be constructed on new rules. So, we are left to wonder: What kind of comeback should we be making: cautious as the post office, or bold as those who want business-as-usual?
Such “What to do?” and “How to live?” questions are hardly new – especially in times of stress and disaster, as our earth has just experienced with 179,157, 837 cases of Coronavirus, causing 3, 882, 228 deaths worldwide among its residents up to today. Serious situations have always called for serious life-changing decisions.
The prophet Micah of Israel’s southern kingdom, Judah, confronted a great crisis in his own day, not due to plague but to the rise of a great, malevolent power, Assyria, preparing a siege to conquer Samaria and dominate Israel, its northern sister, a threat that would rebound on Jerusalem and Judah and put both nations into exile and enslavement.
Groping for a way to face such cataclysmic events, people were asking how to live in this crisis situation. Wisely, they were seeking God’s answer and God revealed it to Micah. Not payoffs or sacrificing one’s children’s wellbeing (see Micah 6:6-8), but simply building one’s life, literally, on God’s standards for human behavior: “to accomplish right (or law or rule, mišpât) and to love (or to desire) mercy (or kindness, benevolence, love, grace (hesed) and be humble (or attentive, haṣnē‘) to your God (’elȏhim).”
Enduring a crisis and picking up the pieces afterward to start anew in a changed environment demands a three-fold response:
1) First, to create a just society. To anyone considered normal, slaughtering innocent passersby unknown to the assailant is obviously insane. That’s clear enough. But some of the roots that feed into mind-altering violence are not so clear. Ethnic and class and even religious prejudice (as influenced the Boston Marathon murderers among others) have precipitated a number of recent incidences that have ended lives and instigated sometimes violently-expressed outrage. When an entire nation is being enslaved, as was the fate of Israel and then Judah, or plunged into civil violence, everyone needs to pull together and create a united community or lose their joint identity entirely to its conqueror. Before a nation creates its own civil war and its resulting heartache and possible demise, God calls it to become a just place for all its citizens to flourish and thrive.
2) Second, healthy families look out for one another. A nation is like a family. Paul informed the Athenian thinkers that God created all humans from a single progenitor , determined them to divide into nations, and share the land, understanding we are all God’s “offspring” (or family, or nation, or race, or descendants, or people, see Acts 17: 24-31, especially verse 29) and, therefore, God wants us to be merciful to each person as if she or he was a member of our own nuclear family.
3) Finally, third, any attitude that ignores the good requirements of God, our creator, that have been set down for our benefit, reveals that rejector to be like a selfish child who enjoys shelter under his or her loving parents’ roof, eating the food they provide, and taking the care they give, but ending with nothing but a false sense of importance and entitlement. When the parents withdraw all the benefits because of death or disgust, misery is the result.
What then does God’s wisdom outline for the way we should build a healthy new
way of life for rebuilding our futures together? In these times of confusion, fear, and rage, we need to build a routine based on our Creator’s guidelines, by focusing on justice, mercy, and humility before God. To put it simply: to give each other a fair shake (to accomplish a just way of living for all), to treat each other with the graciousness with which we want ourselves to be treated (to be merciful with one another), and to acknowledge daily with gratitude God who sustains us in the beautiful world God provided us for all the days we live in it (to be humbly attentive to the way God wants us to live).
 Fox 46, Charlotte, “Blue Ridge Parkway warns drivers of 700-pound elk; saying they’re charging at cars,” https://www.fox46.com/news/blue-ridge-parkway-warns-drivers-of-700-pound-elk-saying-theyre-charging-at-cars/, posted Oct 7, 2019, updated: Oct 7, 2019, accessed June 22, 2021.
 This dilemma has created a surprising shortage in staffing. Just this morning (June 22, 2021). a supervisor told me his business was suffering from that shortage and then described the effects of such a fallout on a blighted restaurant experience he and his wife had had this past weekend. Despite a reservation for dinner, they had to wait 45 minutes to be seated, then were served a cold meal. Complaining to the manager, all this poor employer was able to do was apologize that he couldn’t find anybody qualified who wanted to work and, as a result, everything seemed to be going wrong.
 According to Our World in Data, in its updated “Statistics and Research: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccinations,” only “22.2% of the world population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine,” with India having less than 20% of its population with one dose, Mexico just over 20%, the United States over 50% but less than 60%, Canada, Israel, and the United Kingdom exceeding 60% of people having received one dose by June 22, 2021, https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations, accessed June 23, 2021.
Skye Gould , Madison Hall , and Joanna Lin Su, “The US has had 225 mass shootings in 2021 so far. Here's the full list.” Insider, https://www.insider.com/number-of-mass-shootings-in-america-this-year-2021-3, posted May 28, 2021, 10:39 AM, accessed June 23, 2021.
 KFF, “COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker – Updated as of June 23,” The data is drawn from
“the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Coronavirus Resource Center’s COVID-19 Map and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Coronavirus Disease (COVID-2019) situation reports,” Published: June 23, 2021. Accessed June 23, 2021.
 Noted as the traditional meaning in A. Philip Brown II and Bryan W. Smith, A Reader’s Hebrew Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 1051. I consulted Karl Feyerabend, Langenscheidt Pocket Hebrew Dictionary to the Old Testament (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1969).
 See our other recent blogs related to the pandemic: “The Key to Surviving Physically and Spiritually Today” (Nov. 6, 2020), “Are People Listening Anymore?” (Aug. 31, 2020), “Responding to Floyd” (June 8, 2020), “Being Loving in Lockdown” (April 29, 2020) and my article “The Pagan Roots of the Charleston Shooting” in Africanus Journal 7:2 (Nov. 2015): 21-28.