A dimension of the present lock-down is the potential damage done to the lives of those suffering its long-term effects. In some ways it seems heartless to speculate about this when we know we can save lives through keeping people in their homes. But some people may be left seriously out of pocket, unemployment may rise, mental health may suffer which in turn impacts on physical health, children’s education may suffer, family life may suffer, etc. If the economy falters, the welfare state falters and then the least well-off members of society will be most at risk.
All this is of course somewhat speculative, and in any case it is also reasonable to expect great long- term benefits from the lock-down – greater appreciation of what we have missed, cleaner air, a slow down in global warming, a greater sense of global interdependence, better use of technology to save long commutes, and so on. But the duration of the lock-down will surely be critical. A short lock-down might be fine. A long lock-down might not be so good.
These are difficult, finely balanced judgements. Those who make these judgements – professional advisors and politicians – need cool heads, steady nerves, and wisdom (not forgetting our prayers).
Let’s take that last one: wisdom. King Solomon who ruled Israel around 3000 years ago is credited with great wisdom. As a young king, we read that God appeared to him in a dream and asked him what he would like God to give him. “Give me the wisdom I need to rule your people with justice and to know the difference between good and evil” he asked. God was well pleased with this reply, and that should not surprise us. The request for wisdom was itself wise. It showed Solomon needed to look beyond his own impulses and prejudices. Later, when two women each claimed to be the mother of the same baby, Solomon used a bit of wise (if high stakes!) psychology. He said that he would cut the baby in half so each woman could have a share. At this, the real mother said that the other woman could have the baby. So Solomon was able to determine the true mother.
OK. This is an extreme form of wisdom for our day and age, and not (to be frank) very Christian. But it worked! And that is another dimension to being wise. It is no use having great ideas, but if they don’t actually work you are not wise to persist with them.
I think our leaders need, if not exactly the wisdom of Solomon, then God’s guidance and help in how to be wise. May they seek that kind of wisdom. That would be very wise indeed.