Bob Bixby Profile picture
20 Nov, 23 tweets, 4 min read
Thread: “I’m NOT going to wear a mask! Only 2% of those who get it will die!” This was loudly declared in a public eatery by a Christian pastor at a conference I attended recently. This seems to be perceived as an infallible argument against all measures to mitigate this disease.
But, I wonder if we exercised our imaginations just 2% more if we’d understand that 2% and 2% are not always the same, especially depending upon one’s perspective. In other words, 2% is a little or a lot depending upon many other variables.
I’ve tried to explain this to my son by this admittedly over-simplification.

Imagine that you are the captain of a ship with 200 passengers. As the captain you are responsible for the welfare of all 200 lives. It is presumed by the code of shipping that you will protect the
lives of your crew even as you take risks getting to your destination. Your ship and crew of 200 have the choice of either going around an isthmus to the next body of water where your destination is or passing through a canal which could potentially save a lot of time and money
and make everyone in the tired crew happy. The only thing is that you have heard on good word that there is a 50% chance that 50% of your crew will get malaria and that 2% of those will certainly die. The odds are not great. The risks/benefits decision is hard.
You ponder the worst case scenario: by crossing the isthmus you will get all the benefits of a speedy trip, 100 crew members will get sick, and 2 (2%) will die. That’s a WORST CASE SCENARIO that you as a leader have to weigh carefully. So, this is carefully weighed out:
a 1 to 2 chance that 1 out of 2 will get sick and that, of those who get sick, 2% will die. But, of course, the optimist in you knows that there is also a big chance that not nearly 50% of your crew will get sick which suggests that maybe only 1 person would die, if any.
There’s also the real possibility that no one would get sick!

But, supposing you have found out that there is a 100% chance that 100% of your crew will get sick and that 2% will die. 2% is not the same as 2%. It is now a huge number. Now as a captain you know that a decision
to take the short cut will claim the lives of 4 of your crew. This is a much harder decision. You are responsible for not only getting to your destination but for the wellbeing of EVERY PERSON on your ship. You decide to go the long route because you do not want to make a life
and death decision for your crew. (This oversimplification assumes, of course, that all will live if they go the long route, but the point of my parable is much more narrow).
Here’s the kicker though. If you are a crew member, and not the captain, these numbers are almost trivial to you. Especially if you’re robust and healthy. You want to get to your destination and go on with life! You have only yourself to worry about.
Even with the 100% certainly that you will get sick and the possibility that you might become part of the 2% that die, you are impatient with the captain and want to take the chance. And it’s a very good chance that you will be ok. In fact, almost every other crew member wants to
take the chance! But every crew member is only deciding for himself. They are not deciding the fate of others. 2% is a ridiculously low percentage when you’re a crew member; it’s a number that demands justification if you are the captain of the ship.
Despite the unbiblical rhetoric coming from many Christians today that it is not the government’s role to worry about our health and well-being, it actually is.
Throughout history, all the way back to the bronze age, leaders were referred to as shepherds because the metaphor suggested care for the whole well-being of the entire flock.
Governing is not only about a power-grab; it is a divinely implanted intuition that God has ordained for our well-being. The best shepherds of sheep or of animals cannot help but leaving the 99% to go rescue the 1% because governing is instinctual in the human race.
Governing for the protection of those who are governed is as instinctual in the human race as the maternal instinct to protect. There are always people who abuse power, of course, and there is a long tragic history of this in life. But that is not the only history.
There is a long history of governors taking good care of their people too. Simply because there has always been a horrific percentage of terrible mothers who have abandoned their children does not mean that we suddenly deny and denounce the mother instinct.
There is an instinct in many people who govern (whether in the lowest counties or the highest offices of the land) that know that their decisions result in lives lost and they intuit the burden of it. And from their perspective 2% is not the same as 2% from our perspective.
It is true that there are a number of diseases that will claim more lives percentage-wise and we are not quarantining and masking up for those. But the difference is that Covid-19 will infect a much larger swath of people and the track record shows that a significant percentage
of those will go to hospital and another percentage will die. This makes governments’ around the world ponder what they will require of their flocks in order to minimize the deaths. This is a good thing; not a bad thing. And we should be supportive of the instinct to protect
even if we disagree with the methods.

This is the only point I want to make right now. Because it is a simple point that is overlooked by many anti-government types (although they refer to themselves as “anti-BIG-government”). I would love to address that term some day because
it is one of the most useless terms bandied around in our American discourse when we talk about government, but that is beyond the scope of my concern this morning.

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More from @bobbixby

19 Nov
I wish I could write in such a way that would persuade at least some of my friends on the Right that their Evangelical leaders’ machismo toward Covid precautions is not just a matter of difference of opinion, but unwise (which is another way of saying, “not very Christlike”).
One leader has declared to the cheers and ballyhoo of adoring patriots:
“Americans need to be planning to celebrate the biggest Thanksgiving Feasts they can manage. Invite extra friends, serve extra stuffing and gravy and pumpkin pies,
fill every glass with some good wine, and then bow our heads in humble praise that all that we have is from Christ.”
The BIGGEST FEASTS and EXTRA FRIENDS because authorities are requesting smaller and fewer! This is clearly, they say, a threat to our Christian faith and liberty.
Read 19 tweets

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