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Opinion

Troubling Times but God is Good

By Tim Keller

These are troubling times. Our economy is being shut down in front of our eyes and thousands of our people are beset by a foreign virus. Some businesses will never bounce back from it, and employers and their employees will suffer. That could have a ripple effect on our nation’s economy. While we must consider the health costs of the coronavirus, Americans must ask tough questions. Is it wise to shut down vast sectors of the economy? Even if it is constitutional, should government wield such a heavy hand economically to contain a virus? The coronavirus is a horrible pandemic, but we must take care not to turn to socialism and destroy our small businesses and local communities to fight it. Instead we should turn to God and trust in the timeless principles of freedom.

Americans weathered tough times before by looking to God as the source of our individual rights and by recognizing government’s purpose as the protection of those rights. In 1776, the founders established the United States of America, declaring: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed….” Government exists to protect our God-given rights.

But over the past week and a half, we’ve gotten a taste of what it might be like to live in a different sort of country, one where politicians and bureaucrats make our economic choices for us. While this has been done in an effort to contain the coronavirus, many worry this could portend things to come. Government saying who can leave their houses and where people can go is what life looks like under a true socialist economy every single day … every week … every month … every year. In a socialist economy, politicians and bureaucrats make our economic decisions for us. That is the definition of socialism: a state-run economy. Government telling a private business what it can and cannot do is socialism.

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Rebuilding a nation that has suffered from a great plague is hard, but rebuilding one that has ruined its economy through socialism is even harder. Rebuilding businesses is challenging, but it is even more difficult for people to begin thinking like free individuals. Socialism conditions people to let government officials make decisions for them. But a free nation requires an independent-minded people. We must take care to treat the government’s strong actions as an emergency response to a once in a lifetime disease, not as something to be repeated, save for the most grievous of circumstances.

The next few weeks will test our nation’s will. We must encourage each other to seek what is best for our country. Even as the coronavirus spreads, our nation’s small businesses are being strangled to death. Americans have pulled through difficult times before by recognizing God as the source of Life and Freedom. We must remember the principles of independence from the founders, come together to defeat this virus, and put our hope in God and Freedom.

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