Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying!

In one scene of the movie, Shawshank Redemption, Andy sits with Red after the two become friends and Andy dreams of being free. Red states that it could be dangerous to hold hope around starting a new life when it really doesn’t seem to be a possibility.

To this worry Andy replies, “I guess it comes down to a simple choice really, get busy living, or get busy dying”. This statement is a perspective and Andy’s situation can be related to all of us whether this is a metaphorical prison, a place in our life we feel stagnant, or where we may be consumed with doubt.

Tom Gilson wrote an article in The Stream magazine that parallels Andy’s advice to Red: “America’s strategy for COVID-19, in the fewest possible words, is this: Don’t worry about living, just try not to die. It is a strategy of fear and slavery, under the controlling hand of the fear of death.”

Are we to be indifferent and careless about COVID-19? No, it is dangerous and deadly. I have relatives who have died of the disease. But as Gilson continues in his article, “Policy really does call for prudence. There is a line, though, between prudence and panic, and for much of this year we’ve been on the wrong side of it. We’ve been so busy not dying, we’ve forgotten life is for living.”

In 1948, C.S. Lewis wrote a brief essay titled, On Living in an Atomic Age that we need to update to 2020 and the COVID-19 threat.

Lewis wrote, “In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. ‘How are we to live in an atomic age?’ I am tempted to reply: ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat at night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.

“In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented… It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

“If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds...

“What the atomic bomb has really done is to remind us forcibly of the sort of world we are living in and which, during the prosperous period before, we were beginning to forget. And this reminder is, so far as it goes, a good thing. We have been waked from a pretty dream, and now we can begin to talk about realities...

“It is our business to live by our own law not by fears: to follow, in private or in public life, the law of love and temperance even when they seem to be suicidal, and not the law of competition and grab, even when they seem to be necessary to our own survival. For it is part of our spiritual law never to put survival first: not even the survival of our species. We must resolutely train ourselves to feel that the survival of Man on this Earth, much more of our own nation or culture or class, is not worth having unless it can be had by honorable and merciful means.

“Nothing is more likely to destroy a species or a nation than a determination to survive at all costs. Those who care for something else more than civilization are the only people by whom civilization is at all likely to be preserved. Those who want Heaven most have served Earth best. Those who love man less than God do most for man....

“Let the bomb find you doing well.”

In the 21st Century alone, we can add to C.S. Lewis list such deadly disease as Malaria, Dengue fever, Ebola, and AIDS. To this list we now add Covid-19.

However, let me remind you that despite our “safety first” at all costs outlook on life, we are dying men and women, for it is appointed unto man once to die.

Despite all the modern-day advances in medicines and the vast improvements in living standards, the “grim reaper” still cuts a wide swath around the globe. For instance, in 2016, 445,000 people died of Malaria. Each year approximately 400 million people get Dengue fever and about 22,000 each year die from it. From 2014-2016, 11,300 people died from Ebola, which is now in a controlled state. In 2019, 690,000 died from AIDS, that number was 1.1 million deaths in 2010, these are annual numbers.

As of December 14, 2020, there have been 73,075,729 Coronavirus Cases recorded worldwide, resulting in 1,625,472 deaths (with a recovery percentage of 99%).

But then, every year worldwide, 56 million babies are killed in the womb of their mothers. 1 in 4 conceived children are aborted. But then, 3 million people every year die from some sort of alcohol related event. Oh yes, more than 8 million people die every year from tobacco related illnesses. Nearly 1.25 million people are killed in car accidents each year. That means, on average, auto accidents caused 3,287 deaths per day. An additional 20-50 million people are injured or disabled in car accidents. These do not include any of the wars or government directed terrorism or genocide that goes on every year.

It is time to get busy living instead of trying to avoid dying. Some risks are worth it. We are too easily surrendering liberties that many have fought and died for. This is a time we can join with them in that fight, even risking ourselves for it. The public policy of containing the virus has become a globalist move to contain the people.

Remember the words of one of our founding fathers, Patrick Henry, as he asks, “Is life so dear and peace so sweet that it must be purchased at the price of slavery?” What is scary is that millions of Americans would answer “YES”. Many are the offspring of 1960 parents who marched in the streets of America carrying signs that read: “Better Red than Dead.” (meaning better to live under Communism than be dead).

Although the following verse was a choice set before the Old Covenant people of Israel, there is still a sense in which it is applicable to us today: I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live (Deuteronomy 30:19 ). 

If you are reading this and have never chosen the one who is the Resurrection and the Life, then you have every reason to fear dying. But if you have committed your life to Christ, for you “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21). So, fear not! Get busy living for the glory of God!