When Health is deemed more important than Justice

When Health is deemed more important than Justice

Something has gone profoundly wrong in fighting Covid-19. It disturbs me greatly. It needs to be confronted and corrected.


Right from the beginning drastic measures were taken. The goal and inherent promise were to keep people healthy and protected. Crisis scenarios were pulled out. These scenarios were mainly concerned with protecting people but they did not look at the injustices caused. Looking at all that is being done in the more affluent countries of the world may seem caring and yet in the larger context, it is actually selfish. As we wait for a vaccine it may well be that we become impatient and fed-up, what happens then? We appear to be caught in cycle and for some, the cycle has become vicious.


Some Facts


Affluent countries have taken aggressive measures to fight the pandemic. These have cost them billions which they do not have.

  • A lot of money has been spent to protect the economy. But nobody knows if they will have the long-term benefit hoped for. Most interestingly it was in this area where the justice and fairness (distribution of funds) question was asked.

  • These billions of euros need to be repaid and we will surely feel this is the near future. But this will also likely continue to be a heavy burden for the next generation.

  • Nobody knows if these measurements will suffice.

  • Nationalism is active as each country looks after its own best interest i.e. It has become quite popular to try and cut deals to be the first served with a vaccine.


Less affluent countries have paid a very different price. They have had to follow the set agenda of the more affluent countries in order to survive. But for their poor(er) citizens it meant: due to no possibility of work during the day, there was no food on the plate in the evening. Children who were normally fed at school, no longer had that meal available to them when the schools were closed down. Poverty has led to deeper poverty. Suffering has turned to grief. And this is not over yet, it has already lasted for month, how many more months lay before us?


The poor and the vulnerable have once more paid a hefty price:

  • According to the World Bank an extra 49 million people will face extreme poverty (below € 1,6 income per day) because of Covid-19 effects.

  • 100 million people will plunge into poverty if the poverty limit is set at € 4.65.

  • Even in affluent countries the poor have been more affected i.e. because of more exposure to Covid-19 through their jobs or because of not being able to afford a balanced diet.

  • In Eastern Europe some people are not so well integrated (i.e. Roma) or people far from the main centres are suffering incredibly.


Did something go wrong?


The question was mainly how to keep safe. But there is also the certainty aspect. There is no Securitas (security) without Certitudio (certainty). It is a terrible situation if governments are expected to provide everything concerning security and safety, including good health. One is in dire straits if the only hope rests with the government. One is left without hope if there is no certainty that there is someone watching over us (the eternal God) and caring for us beyond human abilities. There is no hope if there is no eternal perspective.


And above all is the danger of arriving at wrong conclusions if there is no certainly Only if one counts on this certainty one can dare to ask the question of justice. Because justice involves sacrifice. It involves giving up some of one’s “rights”. Only if I know that I am looked after well I can look after others and maybe even risk my life by doing so.


What is left from the Christian inheritance in Europe is based on this concept of sacrifice. One can call it also the influence of the Bible. Much of this inheritance is now looked after by secular institutions. At the time being impact gets lost because of losing the securitas – certitudio perspective. That would be worth another article. You might find some further food for thought in these EEA News in other articles touching on the Bible’s influence in Europe.


What to do


As usual it starts with us. We need to turn first to God and his word and pray. In this light we need to examine our hearts. Where have we been influenced by the secular agenda “me and my security first”? Where has concern for our own health trumped justice and mercy? What sacrifices should we make in order to restore justice as God sees it?


Then we need to turn to the public area. As Christians we need to ask loudly and boldly the difficult questions. We need to raise once more our voice on behalf on the widows and orphans, the poor and the stranger. This will demand sacrifices in all areas of life.


We are not powerless. We can do something to change the effects of injustice. And we can even deal with root causes by adding the certainty bit to the safety.


May God give us certainty, hope and courage to do so


Thomas Bucher


PS A great article on Justice by Timothy Keller can be found here

Latest Posts

Receive the EEA newsletter!