It is What It Is, or Is It?
By Ed Delph
March 23, 2020
Most of you have heard of the expression, “It is what it is.” Usually, people use this expression when they feel they are working with an impossible situation they have no control over. They feel resigned to the fact that the situation will never change. Fair enough. Some things are that way.
Here’s an example of what I mean. Coffins in the Victorian period came equipped with an extensive system of the bell. There was a rope in the deceased person’s hand that went up out of the coffin, above the ground, and to the top of the gravestone upon which a bell was attached. This was just in case the person woke up while in the coffin. Gravediggers were sometimes paid to keep watch over the graves in case they might hear the bell go off. This is where the term “Saved by the bell” came from.
In other words, the future deceased person didn’t want to accept “It is what it is.” They were thinking “It is what it is, or is it?” They had the hope they could be saved by the bell. Nice try, but as far as this life on earth, “It is what it is.”
There are other cases where “It is what it is” is not true at all. In the 1400s, there were maps of the world showing the known world of that time. When the map got to the end of what was known, the cartographers of that time suggested the possibility of dragons. These dragon drawings implied “Beyond this, there be dragons.” In other words, “It is what it is...this is the end...Zombie apocalypse!”
But there were some explorers who began to think, “It is what it is, or is it?” History shows it was not the end of the world, it was the rest of the world. The world was bigger than they thought and better than they thought. They grew beyond the invisible borders of their fear, their panic, and their personal and societal limitations.
My point here concerning the current, world-wide Coronavirus crisis is this: Is this all there, is or is it? Will Coronavirus rule the world forever? Am I doomed to waiting in long lines for toilet paper forever? Will I be afraid of flying and other people forever? Will the stock market ever recover? Will we continue to suffer from the deep and steep partisan divides in the United States and the world we have been suffering from forever? Are these the new normal forever?
A great percentage of us are thinking, “Of course not.” What’s the problem? May I say, even though many of us don’t believe the paragraph above, many of us are living as we do believe it. We’ve traded our plan of attack for a panic attack, sanity for insanity. Fear has taken us to “It is what it is.”
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use wisdom, conservation, and some social distancing when possible. But please don’t allow panic to transport you to self-preservation. Believe me, sometime soon, you will have toilet paper.
We know the “It is what it is.” Now let’s explore the “or is it?” Let’s explore some possibilities and make them probabilities. Let’s get some much-needed perspective that can free us from the worship of fear. Let’s get beyond “Beyond this, there be dragons.”
First, Coronavirus is a threat and will affect the world, no question, probably for the short term. But prayer is going up all over the world, hopefully for the long term. Smart, concerned, quality people are working on containing it, maybe even eliminating it. People are getting smarter on hygiene which has been needed for a while now. Flying will soon be as safe hygienically as it is delivering passengers safely. We’ve met challenges like SARS, Swine Flu, Bird Flu, Ebola, Zika, and we probably will meet these now. We may not eliminate these, but we know how to avoid these.
Second, don’t let this crisis take you to the dark side. As they say, there’s no problem until there’s a problem. We have been spoiled for so long that we don’t know how to respond when we don’t instantly get our way, or our have our freedoms limited. Freedom should not make us ‘free to be dumb.’ Can you believe the hoarding and plundering of food, toilet paper and the like? It’s revealing where people really are: me, myself, and I. You’re better than that.
Third, don’t make major decisions on incomplete or unreliable data. Data is still coming in. Don’t freak out. I love Italy and China, but we are not Italy or China. Our situation is different. Pray for them! James Clear says, “In a world where information is abundant and easy to access, the real advantage is knowing where to focus. When the world seems uncontrollable, focus on what you can control. Return to your habits.”
Last, allow this crisis to transport you to your good side. Positive signs are everywhere. Despite all the Facebook negative videos, people are starting to be courteous to one another. Recently, someone left a $1000.00 tip to the employees of a restaurant to financially help them. Even the United States’ deeply divided legislatures are beginning to work together for the benefit of the country with the President. That’s a change.
Think about it. In my opinion, as a society, we were headed the wrong way. Selfishness, greed, power, present mindedness, political motivation, disdain of others, interest-group bubbles, and the like. Maybe amid this, God is trying to return us back to our future. Maybe the fear we’ve been feeling points to the God we’ve been missing. Maybe God is saying, “I love you more than you currently understand. I’m not paying you back, I’m bringing you back.”
The greatest tragedy of this tragedy would be to learn nothing, go nowhere, paralyzed by fear. In other words, the greatest tragedy of this tragedy would be not to grow from this tragedy. We would be like those people in the Victorian period inside of their coffin waiting to be saved by the bell.
By the way, the bell won’t save you, but Jesus will. Just saying!
Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com