SUBMITTING TO GOVERNMENT
We took a picture of a “Covid-19 Occupancy Compliance Certificate” that is posted in one of our restaurants here in South Africa. The local health inspection officer previously visited the restaurant, judged that the seating capacity was 48. In compliance with the laws of the national health department, the local health inspector calculated that the seating capacity of the restaurant was now 24.
In a similar manner, at the beginning of the pandemic, each food store was given a number of people who could be present in each store at any one time while customers shipped for essential food items for the week. Someone was thus standing at the entrance of each food store handing out numbered tags. Once all the numbered tags were distributed, then no other customers were allowed to enter the store until someone left the store, and handed back his or her numbered tag. The population submitted to these temporary government mandates in order that all of us as a society be where we are today. As Christians, we submitted in order to escape the judgment in time of the Covid-19 virus. (The “judgment” of Romans 13:1,2 is not a reference to the end-of-time judgment.)
Because the population of South Africa collectively submitted to the mandates of the government for the survival of the people, the people of South Africa are essentially delivered from the fourth wave of the Covid pandemic, for all the citizens willingly submitted to the advice of the government health department during the pandemic. By the first of February 2022, the populace of South Africa will be well on its way to some normality, and thus free from many of the government restrictions that were followed by the people during the pandemic.
It seems that the whole world is watching South Africa quickly move out of the fourth wave of the pandemic, but they do not understand why. This will take some explanation on the uniqueness of the South African government and culture. While the American and European West obsess over being restricted, and thus supposedly losing their freedoms, the populace of South Africa complied with their government for the sake of the collective, a cultural value that is somewhat void in the West. The populace of South Africa agreed to be restricted in order to regain their freedom after the pandemic.
A movie was once produced many years ago that could be somewhat prophetic of the present worldwide pandemic scenario. The setting of the movie was based on a supposed third world war that had transpired in the world, which war almost wiped out mankind on earth. It was concluded, by the survivors that human emotions had driven the people of the world to go to war with one another in order to settle a dispute.
Therefore, in order not to go to war again, a powerful psychological drug was developed to suppress all human emotions. The state mandated that the drug had to be taken every day by every citizen. If one missed a day in taking his medication, the emotional part of the brain would start to arise again within the human mind. According to the autocratic leaders of the surviving city-state, that would not be good. Therefore, they supposed that human emotions would lead to another world war where the existence of all humanity would again be endangered. But in actuality, the leaders had gained power during the war, and subsequently, they did not want to relinquish that power after the war.
In order to prevent another world war, the autocratic leaders of the now totalitarian city-state, convinced the people to take their daily emotion-suppression medication. As a result, there was an “equilibrium” of emotionality among the people. The movie was subsequently entitled, Equilibrium.
The problem was that one day one of the law-enforcement officers of the state forgot to take his daily medication, and subsequently, he started to experience some emotions. And then he missed another day. To him, and all those who had refused the medication–and were now living underground–it was a decision between making a choice and enjoying freedom, or submitting to a totalitarian state whose citizens walked around like emotionless zombies doing their commanded duties.
The movie Equilibrium was first released in 2002. That was twenty years ago! In many ways, the movie may have been prophetic of our times. Therefore, when vaccinations are available for a population to escape a pandemic war, the vaccination must still remain in the freedom of individual choice. Governments may mandate vaccination standards, but this is not within the realm of Divine authority, lest we create the “vaccinated church” and the “unvaccinated church.”
However, in reference to the authority of the state to mandate that which is good for the whole of society, in a democracy we the people often relinquish into the hands of our government the power to determine that which is good for the whole. If we do not do this, then we have no democracy. We will loose our freedom of choice in a society of totalitarian rule. Nevertheless, if we would be citizens of a healthy society in a democracy, we as a collective of society must relinquish some of our personal freedoms for the sake of the survival of society as a whole.
When our freedoms are slowly eroded away by state coercion, the story never ends well. In a democracy, the state is composed of politicians, and with politicians, remaining in power is often more important than the individual freedoms of the individual citizens. In fact, this thirst for power corrupts the morals of the politicians. It is for this reason that politicians in a democratic state are often known for being liars. They are such people in order to stay in power. It is just an inherent flaw of democracy. On the other hand, autocratic dictators in a totalitarian state will often say the truth more often than a power-hungry elected politician in a democratic state.
Moral decisions are the responsibility of Bible-obedient children of God. Unfortunately, we have too many autocratic politicians in the state who thirst only for power, regardless of the freedoms of the individual citizens of the state. Sir William Wallace (portrayed by Mel Gibson) in the 1995 released movie, Braveheart, is still right when he cried out at the end of the movie before his execution, “FREEDOM!”
OK, so you would like an example of the leadership of South Africa as to why the fourth wave of the present pandemic is closing, and at the same time, the rest of the world is still struggling in the midst of this wave. Here is one reason why: A great political meeting of people was recently scheduled for a visit of the President of South Africa. The mass gathering was composed of those of the President’s constituency who had voted him into office.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa subsequently arrived at the place of assembly. Before he was allowed out of vehicle, his security personnel, as usual, first entered into the assembly hall where all the people had gathered. However, the security personnel returned to the vehicle in which the President was seated, and informed him, “This is not a legal assembly. There are too many people who have gathered. There is no social distancing because of the mass number of people, and many are not wearing face masks.”
President Ramaphosa replied, “We cannot attend this illegal assembly,” and thus his motorcade moved on. This is leadership, not a thirst for power that would violate the very mandate of the South African Health Department that put restrictions on the number of people who could gather in assembly halls of various sizes. This example is one of those reasons why South Africa is rapidly moving out of the fourth wave and on to some normality. It is a matter of leadership, not playing politics by narcissistic political figures who are looking for opportunities to exert power. It is leadership of a population of people who are willing to forego some of their freedoms in order to eventually be set free from an unseen enemy.
(Boris Johnson should have called up Cyril Ramaphosa before he accepted invitations to all those parties.)