• Matt McGee

Coronavirus and the "Coliseum of Confrontation"

A friend shared an article revealing that the Trump Administration attempted to purchase a German company working on a coronavirus cure and restrict the potential cure to only patients in the United States. It’s not surprising. Many will view this effort as exemplary of the America First, MAGA agenda.

I’m not going to bash the president for doing the sort of thing he has promised to do all along. Instead, let’s examine our own beliefs regarding globalization and competition in light of our faith in Jesus.

The article that reminded me of the following passage from Cloud Atlas, one of my favorite novels:

“If we believe humanity is a ladder of tribes, a colosseum of confrontation, exploitation & bestiality, such a humanity is surely brought into being… What of it if our consciences itch? Why? Because of this:… a purely predatory world shall consume itself. In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul. For the human species, selfishness is extinction. If we believe that humanity may transcend tooth & claw, if we believe divers races & creeds can share this world… if we believe that leaders must be just, violence muzzled, power accountable & the riches of the Earth & its Oceans shared equitably, such a world will come to pass. -David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

This pandemic shows us that the world is not just connected by the internet. The health and wellbeing of a person in China are connected to the health and wellbeing of people in the United States and Germany. It always has been. We are just now able to track it. Our fear during the present crisis draws our attention, warily, to our connectedness.

I am not going to let my fear drive my faith toward the “colosseum of confrontation” in which the tribes of humanity are divided into winners and losers, as Mitchell describes. I want to protect and provide for my family and do what I can to promote the health and wellbeing of other tribes and nations.

I do not want my children to inherit a world where the cure for illness is obtained by “tooth and claw”, and accessible only to those who can compete or align themselves with the powerful. Sure, I believe in free markets and in hard work, but I also believe that our faith in Jesus calls us to be motivated beyond our own self-interest.

Christianity is rooted in self-sacrifice. This passage by David Mitchell (and the Politico article) reminds me that Jesus refused to compete for power (Matt. 2215-22). He cured illnesses for free (Mark 10:46-52). He muzzled violence during his arrest (John 18:1-12). He humbled himself in sacrificial death and rose in new life, as we will remember this week (Phillipians 2:1-11). He taught his disciples that their most ardent beliefs, however small, will come to be (Mark 11:12-25).

Let’s believe that this world and everything in it can be shared as easily as it can be purchased. Life, love, and wellbeing are not zero-sum games for those of us who believe in the fullness of eternal life.


About the Author:

Matt McGee, along with his wife, Maureen, and their three daughters, Cadence, Belinda, and Piper live in north Georgia. Matt has formed a career serving schools, churches, and non-profits, most recently as the Executive Director of Feed My Lambs in Atlanta. Matt is an ordained Baptist minister holding degrees from the University of South Florida and Mercer University. Matt and Maureen share a compassion for and a call to serve the underserved, believing in the importance of education, the charity of God's people, the tenacity of Christ's love and the power of the Holy Spirit "to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."

You can/should check out Matt's own blog here.