Modern day, hard hearted pharaohs
Anyone else get the feeling we in the US of A are living a modern tale out of the Old Testament complete with hard hearted pharaohs, plagues like the coronavirus, and leaders that lack basic human empathy? I spent an evening last night re-reading Job. Oh, I know there is no pharaoh in Job's story. But one thing that stood out for me was Job's friends lack of empathy, similar to Ramses lack of empathy to the plight of the Israelites.
Job's friends were trying to find fault with him, telling him that his travails were somehow a result of his sinful ways. Not one offered help, not one offered up anything to replace what Job had lost, even though they were there to supposedly comfort him. Zophar directly accuses Job of wickedness. Bildad posits that Job suffered because of the sins of his children who God destroyed. Eliphaz argues that Job must have sinned in secret. Is their lack of empathy for Job's plight the reason God tells them at the end to "make a burnt offering" and sets up Job as their intercessor? Makes me wonder.
In the Christian tradition, the Greatest Commandment is to love God with all your heart, mind and spirit and to love your neighbor as yourself. Likewise, to NOT do that, to show no empathy for one's fellow travelers, is what, the worst sin? Much of the suffering brought on in this pandemic is a direct result of our modern day pharaohs' inaction and stubbornness in facing facts. Are we as a people about to learn a hard lesson in choosing leaders not equipped with basic human empathy? I think so, but I wonder if enough people will learn it.
But what about the virus itself? Why would God allow such a thing to exist? Tragically, if humanity had worked together sooner, much of the suffering would have been avoided. But in Job, what kind of an all loving God would allow the the devil to work on Job? It's a question asked many, many times. And most assuredly, answered far more eloquently than I.
God's answer to Job bears some teasing out. As a younger man, I was often frustrated with it. His response basically reminds Job that he cannot fully comprehend God's wisdom and power and reiterates His divine role in maintaining order in the universe, battling chaos, controlling the great primeval forces in the symbolic forms of the great beasts behemoth and leviathan.
And in the New Testament, in the Christian tradition, God in the form of Jesus takes onto his flesh the forces of chaos, takes on that which bothered Job so, that bothers me so, the fact that the innocent suffer. And I don't have the foggiest idea why. It should not be so. In a just world, we should bear the consequences of our own actions, not bear the consequences of others through no fault of our own. But what do I know? I am not the Creator.
As an artist, I play and work with metaphor. In times like these, and most of the time, I do so clumsily. I revert many times to those metaphors established a long time ago and to those that have endured, like Job.
I'm only an artist trying to sell a few prints and T-shirts. I use mathematical concepts of unpredictability and chance to create new works from old, works that hopefully have some kind of aesthetic appeal. Color is my jazz.
I do what I can, help where I can, give where I can.