In one of the most inspiring passages of the Bible, the prophet Isaiah says to God, “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” (Isaiah 6:8 KJV) The passage inspired American composer of Catholic liturgical music Dan Schutte to write, “Here I Am Lord” also known as “I, the Lord of Sea and Sky,” based on this Bible verse. It is a well-known song, sung in many denominations, perhaps because it represents a most noble impulse in the human spirit – to go forward when called to a task, however dangerous, difficult, or unpopular it may be, if it is felt to be the right action to take.
“Send me,” Isaiah says. “I’ll go. If you need me, I’ll go.”
Firefighters, paramedics, cops, nurses, and doctors, as well as many others respond to this call. When the building is burning, and people need to be saved, send me, the firefighter says. When thousands of acres of the forests are burning, the fire incident commander says, send me, and I’ll organize hundreds of others to dig fire lines to contain the fire or lay hoses from creeks or organize helicopters to drop water.
Members of the military also lead with this mentality and singleness of focus in an emergency. Send me, send us — to free the hostages, take out the bad guys, deliver the medicine and supplies, rescue the captured. Regardless of the personal risk or danger. These are noble and brave human qualities. From a Quaker pamphlet, I learned of a Quaker woman peace activist, who described her experience in a North Vietnamese prison camp after she was captured while working in that country during the Vietnam War. Send me, she had said.
Sadly, however, in contrast to the noble human willingness to step forward for a cause, even when alone and even when it may be dangerous, during recent years, we have seen some of the worst and most disappointing human characteristics on display. Governments told people to stay home, not meet in communities, not gather with friends or family, not visit the sick or dying in hospitals or nursing homes, not go to restaurants or to the grocery store. Then who was to do the essential tasks necessary to keep societies whole and functioning?
Send them, many said. Who was them? House cleaners and nannies to the rich; nurse’s aides changing bed linens and bed pans for the old or sick or dying; funeral directors who had to organize drive-by funerals or to cancel funerals; special education teachers who still had to teach special needs children in person in school buildings because many special needs children can’t learn with Zoom school.
These teachers sometimes have to change students’ diapers as well as giving them puzzles or projects to make days meaningful and educational. They had to do their best to keep these students’ spirits up while buildings remained vacant, while special students were probably lonely, wondering why the rest of the children were gone. They were forced to wear masks that often dragged their chins because they were unable to keep them in place.
“Them” was also the cooks, factory workers, grocery delivery people, UPS drivers, and so many others who supplied goods and services to the staying at home populations.
While Isaiah and others have said, “Send me” and “Here I am, send me where I am needed,” another noble human quality is to protect others before oneself, to offer oneself to service for others. Jesus stretched out his arms and offered himself as a sacrifice for the world, as we hear in the story during Holy Communion. He did this even though he was afraid, heartbroken, and even though he did not want to do it, according to the story. He asked God if he could possibly avoid the betrayal and torture he knew was coming. In what I think is one of the saddest places in the Bible, Jesus asks God if the cup could pass by him – if he could possibly avoid the terrible sorrow, betrayals, violence, and death he knew were imminent.
“And He went a little farther, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me,” he says on the night before he died. But then he submits and accepts what he must do when he says, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” (Isaiah 6:8 KJV).
We act on this divine impulse and inspiration when we say take me, rather than him or her. In war time, a mother lays down her body over her infant as bombings rage. A soldier runs into the middle of open fire to rescue a fellow soldier. Teachers die shielding their students when a gunman enters a school, shooting.
And yet, sadly recently, we have seen too often the impulse to save one’s own self first, and we have seen people’s willingness to sacrifice others. Many may have suspected or seen inflated or manipulated Covid infection or death numbers; many may have known that masks did not work and that Covid tests were unreliable. They knew that not visiting the sick or dying was wrong. They may have suspected lockdown and vaccine harms, but they remained silent.
In her Substack article, “I’m Not Brave, You’re Just a P***y,” which was widely reprinted, author Naomi Wolf describes former colleagues, who hold prominent, influential positions in media or public policy, texting and writing her private messages, commending her for her public criticisms of failed, harmful, and deadly Covid policies. In their comments, they add that they could not possibly criticize politicians, government, or public health bureaucrats’ policies. They cite numerous reasons, such as their comments would make the boss mad, or they may not be able to publish where they want to or get the promotions they seek.
Not one of them, Wolf adds, justifies their silence by saying they could not feed their families if they spoke their truths. Wolf calls this cowardice, to know and see wrongdoings and harms, and to do and say nothing. It is. Send her, they say, not me.
Simone Gold, who is both a lawyer and a physician, and a mother, spoke early in the Covid period about the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for Covid treatment and wrote a book, I Do Not Consent: My Fight Against Medical Cancel Culture, about how the drug became vilified, most likely because former President Trump mentioned it. Hatred of Trump was so intense that people were willing to sacrifice good reason, judgment, and critical thinking on the altar of this absolute hatred.
Gold called school closures, isolation, and forced masking of healthy children, “government-sanctioned child abuse.” She stood on the Supreme Court steps and spoke about the life-saving benefits of hydroxychloroquine. It is hard to get accurate information about Gold with an Internet search, but reading her book helps – and truths will continue to be revealed and lies exposed, as they always are. Harvey Risch, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, also wrote on the benefits of hydroxychloroquine in a July 2020 Newsweek article.
Stella Immanuel, a physician from Cameroon, who practices medicine in Texas and treated many Covid patients successfully in her office with Hydroxychloroquine, she said, joined Gold on the steps of the Supreme Court early in the Covid period to speak on the benefits of this cheap, repurposed drug. Doctors often use repurposed drugs, I learned during the Covid period. And yet, reporters working for mainstream media magazines searched online about Immanuel, found her church, and made fun of her for her faith, her preaching, and her church – and also used her religious beliefs, expressions, and practices to discredit and malign her.
When did it become acceptable in this country to publicly and viciously ridicule an African woman, practicing physician, for her private religious expressions and beliefs, no matter how eccentric you may find them, and to attack and attempt to discredit her as a doctor because of these?
Many doctors, nurses, and pharmacists may have known about repurposed drugs to treat illnesses, including Covid, may’ve known about HCQ and Ivermectin, may have used it themselves or gotten it for their families, in spite of the government’s banning pharmacists from dispensing it; they may have found a way to prescribe it anyway. Many may have felt in their hearts that it was the wrong course to merely stay home, isolated, and wait for pharmaceutical companies to rush a vaccine that has now been shown not to work. But they didn’t say or do anything. Send her. Not me.
Physicians like Scott Atlas, who worked in the White House in the Covid period, said that healthy children should not be locked down and that schools should remain open. He made the admirable statement that he was a shield for children; they were not a shield for him. Children should not have been sacrificed for adults’ fears, confusions, political agendas, or profit motives. Atlas was bullied and threatened and told to leave. Stay silent. Send him. Send them. Sacrifice them.
Other physicians made similar claims, such as Drs. Jay Bhattacharya, Sunetra Gupta, and Martin Kulldorff, who advocated protecting very old or sick people but not locking down healthy populations. They were ridiculed, bullied, and threatened – and still are. Doctors, such as those from the Frontline Covid Critical Care Alliance, who studied and prescribed early treatments and saved lives, have been similarly sacrificed. Send them, sacrifice them. Let them hang there. While the crowd jeers and calls them names.
Schools should remain open for children’s health and well-being; schools are essential to the lives of communities and neighborhoods – I am certain that many moms and dads felt this way, as I did, as lockdowns descended in spring of 2020 and painfully continued. Jennifer Sey, a mom and Levi’s company corporate executive, voiced this opinion, and the company told her to shut up or be fired. So, she quit. Now, increasingly, research, observations, and opinions accumulate, showing that closing schools harmed children and was unnecessary. Sey acted and spoke her conscience and paid the price.
Where were the many others who should have spoken up against the propaganda and protected children’s academic, mental, and emotional health as depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and false diagnoses of “disorders” with attendant overmedicating exploded? Where are they now? Send her. Send them. Not me, I don’t want to make anyone mad. I don’t want to be unpopular. I don’t want to be accused of not caring if teachers die in open schools or accused of not caring about old people.
Some argued that they were and are caring, that they were and are sacrificing their own comforts and protecting the vulnerable by locking down healthy people, by forced masking, by isolating children, by closing schools and churches, and by forcing shots. But research has shown that the average age of death from the Covid virus is actually higher than the average age of death in non-Covid periods. I also understood the “vulnerable” to be the very old, as in people in their 80s or 90s, perhaps already sick with other conditions. The vulnerable was not middle-aged me, my husband, or the guy down the road. Healthy children were not vulnerable to Covid but were, in fact, vulnerable to fear, panic, isolation, despair, and loss of school and friends forced upon them. What about those? No. Save me first.
The sad impulse to sacrifice others to save ourselves appeared when people stepped up and spoke out during the Covid period. If someone said something that made me look bad or that interfered with my profits or my institution or my company’s profits, then we sacrificed that person. But what if she was right and speaking the truth — or hadn’t done anything wrong? Nope. Didn’t matter. Let her hang. Leave her there.
These recent trials reveal our characters – both disappointing and illuminating. Yet, I remain hopeful that sharing our experiences and encouraging and strengthening each other will help us remember our more noble qualities, divinely-inspired, from stories that have survived and been passed down for centuries. We may be inspired by those around us, with numbers growing each day, those who have said, and continue to say, send me, if I’m needed. Here I am. I’ll go. I’ll speak, I’ll act, because it’s right to do so.
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