How can we protect ourselves from various kinds of sufferings and threats?
As long as we live in this world, we can’t avoid all these challenges. Life is difficult, which is the archetypal recognition that we all have in one way or another.
Whether we like it or not, there is a stormy day. Various types of storms hit us. Sometimes it takes for one day. Sometimes it lasts for months and years. Even something catastrophic would destroy our lives and civilizations.
We humans have gone through them. And we still do.
We have overcome a lot of them with various achievements and advancements. Scientific and technological innovations have brought us unprecedented prosperity. It seems we are no longer as vulnerable as our ancestors who suffered from disease, famine, starvation, warfare, slavery, lacking basic hygiene, infrastructure, and human rights, etc.
We can enjoy a variety of cuisines within a city area we live to the extent that people of centuries ago never imagined. We can access to vast knowledge within a few clicks or taps, while they had to travel thousands of miles to get a few precious books and learn valuable knowledge.
We are supposed to live more comfortable lives and more equipped in many ways. All these advancements are supposed to eliminate many of those sufferings and threats. Indeed, we can protect ourselves because of our best efforts that we have accomplished throughout history.
Nevertheless, we still seek a way to protect ourselves. Most of us agree with the fact or sentiment that life is difficult.
Perhaps, we were able to craft various kinds of armors that could protect ourselves. Such self-made shields are useful as they got more and more sophisticated throughout human histories. As Matt Ridley mentioned in his book, The Rational Optimist, our tool has indeed transformed from stoneware to software. We turned ourselves from a caveman to a global citizen, which is tremendous.
If so, why do we still agree with the fact or sentiment that life is difficult?
One reason is that the more we evolved, the more complicated challenges we would encounter. As Spiral Dynamics implies, today’s solution would inevitably lead us to tomorrow’s problem.
For example, the system of the tribal community was a solution for hunter-gathers’ survival. Which, however, brought them to the problem of constant tribal warfare. Institutionalization was a solution for managing large-scale community populace. Which, however, ended up with dehumanized bureaucracy. Scientific rationalism could be a solution to today’s problem. Its reductionism, however, could create another problem for tomorrow. The concept of diversity and inclusion is one key solution for today. It seems, yet, we still don’t know how to handle the tyranny of relativism, nihilism, and narcissism.
We thought we already knew how to avoid the global pandemic and outbreak. Yes, we knew. Technically, we have sufficient know-how and could be ready for an emerging pandemic. We have our advanced medical knowledge, international institutes, and unprecedented real-time global network. Like Thomas Friedman’s book, the world is flat. Even we felt it as small as everyone’s hometown.
Ironically enough, such “readiness” brought us to another problem and challenge. Some call it infodemic. Thus, by adding the fifth one, our current slogan should be as follows:
- Stay safe,
- Stay healthy,
- Stay home,
- Save lives, and
- Avoid misinformation!
When a system was simple, our DYI effort was reasonable enough to fix the problems in it. If it is too complicated, sophisticated, and larger-scale, then our DYI is not only helpless but even harmful and destructive. A flood of misinformation from bias to prejudice to conspiracy to propaganda bombards us. And, we would pick up some of them selectively for our DYI actions. We are not only a victim of a global pandemic but of so-called infodemic.
We can no longer know what is true, righteous, and trustworthy.
In the past, the leading causes of death were more by physical, external threats. Once we have overcome these threats by our self-crafted armors even partially, our threats have tended to be more inside-out. What we think and assume could become our real threats.
In fact, the spike of the suicide rate could be one such indicator. We kill ourselves because of what we overthink or get misinformed. In the same manner, we also murder others because of what we over-think or get misinformed.
Suicide was the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29 years, after road injury. Among teenagers aged 15-19 years, suicide was the second leading cause of death among girls (after maternal conditions) and the third leading cause of death in boys (after road injury and interpersonal violence).Suicide: one person dies every 40 seconds
We are now facing and fighting against severe global pandemic. That is truly one of the critical outside-in threats. The real danger, however, would be more and more inside-out.
In the current “heroic” mode, many of us can be strong and courageous. In the long term, then, surely and gradually, what we have to protect would be our mind and soul.
Our mental and emotional care should be another priority we must not forget. People would lose their beloved friends, partners, family members, and relatives. Many of them would also lose their jobs – their financial stability. We have to protect our mind and soul.
We need the armor of God.
Throughout history, we have been able to progress our self-made armor to protect ourselves from various external threats. As we won the past pandemic cases, I believe we will eventually win this fight as well.
But then, even so, the inside-out collateral damage would be more critical. And this is one of the ahistorical, timeless threats we have ever faced once God kicked us out from the Garden of Eden. Our self-made armors can’t protect our mind and soul. We need the armor of God.
Apostle Paul enumerated them as follows:
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:Ephesians 6:13-17
To protect our mind and soul, we have to wear the armor of God, which consists of:
- The belt of truth
- The breastplate of righteousness
- The shoes of the Gospels
- The shield of faith
- The helmet of salvation
- The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God
As long as our center is on the belt of the truth, we can be stable. On this foundation, we can keep the breastplate of righteousness to protect our heart. As long as we are on the shoes of the Gospels, conviction and faith can work as the shield. Thus, through the special helmet of this armor, we can see the salvation.
How do we fight against the inside-out threats? We must hold the sword of the Spirit. That is the Word of God. We must keep His words day and night, and meditate on them. In doing so, we must be strong and of good courage not with our limited efforts, but our surrender to the armor of God.
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.Joshua 1:8-9
But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.Psalm 1:2-3
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